Friends of Catholic Charities gathered March 12 for fellowship and to support the good works of the social services agency at the 15th Catholic Charities Gala at DeSales University, Center Valley.
This year’s honorees were Father John Gibbons, pastor of Immaculate Conception BVM and Sacred Heart of Jesus parishes in Allentown, and Paul and Patty Huck, parishioners of St. Joseph the Worker in Orefield and longtime supporters of Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Allentown.
“Your steadfast support of Catholic Charities has not gone unnoticed,” wrote Dr. Lisa Geosits, Catholic Charities Board Chair, congratulating the honorees in the printed event program. “Your time, talent, and treasure have helped the organization continue to grow.”
Father Gibbons, who has spent much of his Priesthood in Spanish-speaking ministries, focused his remarks on the Spanish word “corazón,” which means “heart.”
Relating it to Catholic Charities, he said, “And when we realize that we’re all of one heart, that we’re all in this together, that we need each other … there’s hope that when someone else needs something, we can help.”
Paul and Patty Huck noted they have been “blessed to be able to work with the Diocese, schools, with our parishes, to do things, to build our faith. Our faith is very important to us.”
Paul said many of the services provided by Catholic Charities “focus on making stronger families … all the things that they do really are great examples of our faith in action.”
“Remember the great command Jesus gave us,” he said, “which is very clear, very simple: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
“What a blessing it is to gather today during this holy season of Lent to celebrate and support the work of Catholic Charities, which parallels the Corporal Works of Mercy,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert.
“Every year, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Allentown touches the lives of thousands of individuals and families who come to them – the poor, the hungry, the homeless, and vulnerable; those who long to be seen and heard; and those who hope to find peace. As Mother Teresa reminded us, ‘Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.’
“Your presence here today and generous support throughout the year means that you, too, help carry out Catholic Charities’ mission to provide compassionate support and respect for the sanctity of all human life.”
The Jeffrey P. Young Youth Service Awards, in their second year at the Gala, were presented to two students who made “outstanding contributions to their college campus, while exemplifying a Christian lifestyle”: Kimberly Lemke, junior communications major at DeSales University; and Caitlin Smith, fifth-year occupational therapy student at Alvernia University, Reading.
Celebrity auctioneers for the live auction were Father Allen Hoffa, pastor of Holy Guardian Angels, Reading; Monsignor Thomas Orsulak, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle, Reading; and Rev. Mr. Alexander Brown, seminarian.
The afternoon also included a special pledge appeal, silent auction, raffle, and “wine pull.”
This year’s event began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at 2 p.m., a format change from previous evening galas. The 3 p.m. program was followed by small plate food stations.
Andrea and Damon Neagle, Gala Chairpersons, welcomed the 375 people attending.
Benediction was offered by Monsignor David James, Vicar General.