The work of Catholic Charities is not a side show of the Church, Archbishop Alexander Sample told the organization's supporters Dec. 3.
"Charity is not at the periphery. It is at the heart of our work as the Church in western Oregon," the archbishop said at an annual Catholic Charities Advent luncheon.
Along with catechesis and liturgy, good works are one of three major pushes in the New Evangelization, the church's overarching strategy to bring Jesus to culture and people.
"How are we going to win over hearts for Christ? Catholic Charities is very much a part of that work," Archbishop Sample said during the lunch, held at the Governor Hotel in downtown Portland. He said charitable work is how Catholics live out the paschal mystery they celebrate at Mass.
Marvin Kaiser, chairman of Catholic Charities' board of directors, lauded Douglas Alles and Trell Anderson, program managers who have stepped up to serve as interim executive directors. The board is about to start conducting a national search to replace Pietro Ferrari, who left the top job in June after less than two years.
Alles told the crowd that in the past year, Catholic Charities workers had 15,000 interactions with people, helping them "create new and better lives." Alles assured donors: "They may never know your name, but they feel your presence."
Catholic Charities helps many kinds of people in need, including refugees from other nations, homeless women and pregnant women.
The lunch included announcement of winners in Catholic Charities' annual Christmas card design contest for children.
First place went to fifth grader Lia Clark of Holy Redeemer School. Her scene in the manger shows a tender moment, with Mary gently leaning on Joseph's shoulder. That subtle tilt of Mary's head is Lia's favorite part of the work.
"It shows their personality," Lia explains.
Second place went to Sara Hematy, a fifth grader at Valley Catholic. Her scene of the nativity includes serene, realistic prayerful faces and the three wise men approaching in the distance in silhouette.
Maria Vo Trinity of Our Lady of Lavang Parish received third place for a softly-lit, stylized Madonna.
The holy family and angels from the hand of Zackary Brockmann, a first grader at St. Francis School in Sherwood, adorn the card's envelope.