“I’m so grateful that because of your generosity, Catholic Charities is able to bring the light of Christ to the community,” said Bishop of Allentown Alfred Schlert to more than 500 attendees at the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Allentown Gala. “That’s all because of good folks like you, who work so hard every day to bring that light of Christ to those who are most in need.”
The 13th annual gala, March 8 at DeSales University, Center Valley, drew an estimated $274,000 in support of Catholic Charities. This year’s honorees were Monsignor John Martin, pastor of St. Peter, Coplay; and Anthony (Tony) and Mary Martocci, parishioners of Assumption BVM, Bethlehem.
Anthony and Evelyn Carfagno, members of the Gala Committee, introduced Tony and Mary Martocci. “Mary has been involved with every activity from helping out in the elementary schools to coordinating the social activities and trips.” She also assisted with parish marriage ministry and was part of the altar flower committee.
While Tony Martocci built his career in the steel industry, he still made time to devote himself to his parish.
“Tony coordinates all the Eucharistic ministers, has served on the parish finance council, and is very active in the parish boy scout troop,” added Anthony Carfagno.
The life and work of the Martoccis was featured in a brief video.
“We’ve had so many blessings,” said Tony. “At this point in our life, we need to give back.”
The Martoccis expressed that seeing the work of Catholic Charities and the people that have been helped through its services makes them feel honored to be part of the diocesan community.
“Anyone that comes through their doors, regardless of their status in life, it helps to add a little joy to their life and bring some happiness to them,” added Mary.
The Carfagnos then introduced Monsignor Martin, who shared that he first encountered Catholic Charities as a young boy, when he accompanied his parents to St. Francis Orphanage in Orwigsburg.
“The reason my parents went to St. Francis Orphanage, as they had done for several years, was to bring a child home for a one- or two-week vacation in the summer,” he said.
The sisters who ran the orphanage asked the Martins to consider bringing home two children – a brother and sister. They happily obliged, and as they were about to leave, the sisters mentioned that there was a third sibling.
“There the four of us were squished in the back seat of that car,” recalled Monsignor Martin. “And I didn’t realize it then, but as time went on, I knew that my parents had taught us the first lesson of Catholic Charities.”
Monsignor Martin went on to describe the lessons he learned at each of his assignments over his 40 years of priesthood, beginning with St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Whitehall. Later he was assigned to Holy Family Manor and Holy Family Villa, Bethlehem, where he served for 25 years.
“It was not just facts and figures that I had to deal with, but a ministry of stewardship,” he said. “I worked closely with both men and women, lay persons on my staff, who were invaluable sources of strength and confidence to me.”
It was during this assignment that Monsignor Martin learned about the various Catholic Charities institutions and agencies throughout the five diocesan counties.
“In every one of those places, there were people who demonstrated for me time and time again the charity of Christ in their hearts,” he said. “They were dedicated to the mission of the Church.”
The gala also included raffle prizes, live and silent auctions, a video featuring the services provided by Catholic Charities institutions, and the presentation of the Heart of Charity Award to each of the honorees. Tony Luna served as the auctioneer.
The evening concluded with Benediction offered by Monsignor David James, diocesan vicar general.
By Alexa Smith