Catholic Sentinel photo by Gerry LewinArchbishop John Vlazny hosts the 2012 Catholic Charities annual celebration.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Gerry Lewin
Archbishop John Vlazny hosts the 2012 Catholic Charities annual celebration.

More than 1,100 attended Catholic Charities Annual Celebration on March 17, marking the organization's largest and most successful event to date—raising nearly $770,000 to support good works.

The St. Patrick’s Day event was held at the Oregon Convention Center, raising more than one-third of the operating dollars needed to support Catholic Charities programs that serve women, at-risk infants and children, pregnant teens, low-income people in need of affordable housing, those who benefit from counseling, victims of domestic violence, and low-income immigrants and refugees.

Pietro Ferrari, Catholic Charities executive director, opened the evening’s program, remarking he felt honored to attend the 15th Annual Celebration for the first time as leader of the organization. “What I love about our work at Catholic Charities is that it provides us with a daily chance to cultivate our solidarity in justice, mercy and compassion for the poor that naturally emanates from our hearts,” said Ferrari.

The Annual Celebration was presented by Providence Health and Services and hosted by Ferrari and Archbishop John Vlazny, along with honorary chairpersons Mark and Leslie Ganz and chairpersons Chris and Kimra Corrado.

“Tonight is all about blessings," said Kimra Corrado. "The blessings our services bring to the poor and vulnerable, the blessings our clients bring to those who are privileged to touch their lives, and the blessings you bring by making the work of Catholic Charities possible,” she added, addressing the audience before introducing a dramatic presentation by a group of Catholic Charities staff members who shared experiences of their clients: a refugee family resettled from Nepal, a mother who chose adoption for her baby on Christmas Eve, a woman who found refuge after fleeing domestic abuse, a student in need of academic support, and a woman that was given an apartment after living on Portland streets for several months.

Chris Corrado said that the clients the audience had just learned about represent their neighbors who might otherwise be unknown, forgotten or marginalized people who have shown courage emerging from despair and humiliation into the hope and light of Catholic Charities. “These clients are not just a case number; they are someone, a mother, a brother, a daughter, a sister, and the unborn. They are not in some far away land; they are right around the corner, down the street, maybe next door. Remember what Jesus teaches: ‘Whatever you do for the least of your neighbor, you do for me.’ And lest you ask: ‘who is my neighbor?’ Now you know,” he said.

The audience was challenged to support its neighbors with matching gifts challenges from Mark and Leslie Ganz, Regence, Natt and Karen McDougall, the Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund and Brian and Maureen Smoluch.

The evening’s entertainment was bookended with the sounds of Kells Irish Pipe and Drum and the Celtic music of St. James’ Gate.

Archbishop John Vlazny helped host the event.