Immigrants And Refugees

Memories of Christmases Past

Community Breakfast at St. Cecilia's Parish, Harlem (pre-covid). Photo: Catholic Charities New York

The Christmas season, a time for giving, naturally fits the mission of Catholic Charities. Those who work for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York are privileged to partake in that Christmas spirit. Following are three Christmas memories generously shared by Catholic Charities’ leaders.

A number of years ago we got a donor to support and host a Catholic Charities food distribution event at St. Cecilia’s Church in East Harlem. We decided to do a Mexican breakfast, since there is a large Mexican community in the parish, and it was around the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Hot chocolate, ham and tamales were served. It was so nice to see the large families coming together on a Saturday morning and having breakfast. Cardinal Dolan came and distributed toys to the children. It didn’t feel like we were handing out food but instead we were having a beautiful breakfast with the community together.

Talia Lockspeiser
Associate Executive Director

Christmas Visit to the Abraham House in the South Bronx, 2020. Photo: Catholic Charities New York

Each year, Cardinal Dolan and Msgr. Sullivan will visit one of our affiliate agencies, enjoying a Christmas party and handing out gifts to the families of the community. Last year we visited Abraham House in the South Bronx, an agency that serves the community with a food pantry and community meals. At the time, in the middle of Covid, they had just launched a residential program for men coming out of Rikers. This was a difficult time to run a residential program, much less start one from scratch – but it was an example of the dedication of the staff that they were able to meet a real need during a difficult time. The Cardinal and Monsignor Sullivan met with the men and were able to hear their stories and share some Christmas spirit.  It was a happy visit for all and another fond Catholic Charities Christmas memory for me.

Philip Dorian
Senior Director of Federation Advancement

A Family Receives Christmas Gifts During the 2020 Covid Pandemic. Photo: Catholic Charities New York

This past Christmas, in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, I became witness to the small miracles that happen when people connect and offer this gift of service.  At a time when people in our community became more physically distant and increasingly isolated, our staff met families in person, in the community.  Our team of caseworkers made sure that our clients had what was necessary to keep their families warm during winter, with jackets, gloves, hats, socks, and other winter gear.  We were even able to give some toys.  I remember a caseworker organizing bags of gifts of clothes and toys in her office, in great anticipation of giving it to a young family. It had been a very tough year for this young family.  The mother had been having trouble finding steady work cleaning houses.  Supporting herself and her children had been a constant struggle because of the pandemic.   She looked to us for help during a time of great need.   There was magic that happened in the instance our caseworker met her and she received the big bag of gifts!  The connections we made with each other, during a time of fear and uncertainty, made those instances even more meaningful and a Christmas memory that will stay with me for years to come.

Xanthe Sonza, LMSW
Assistant Director of Case Management
Catholic Charities Community Services

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