It was a beautiful evening at the Mystic Yachting Center as friends, supporters, staff, volunteers and board members of Catholic Charities gathered to celebrate its 98th anniversary at the Hope Anchors the Soul Spring Gala.
Overlooking the Mystic River, guests were entertained by the Hot Cat Jazz Band while enjoying cocktails and impressive views from the wrap-around covered porch. Guests had the opportunity to bid on many exciting silent auction items, including; tickets to Barrett Jackson Northeast collector car auction at Mohegan Sun; a Cape Cod weekend getaway; a private wine class and tasting for 20; golf lessons from a PGA professional; golf for four at Clinton Country Club; golf for four at Fox Hopyard; and two hand-made Adirondack Chairs, to mention a few.
After enjoying dinner and music on the upper floor, Executive Director Ed Tessman began the evening’s program by welcoming guests and taking them on a journey showing how everyone present affects those who walk through the doors of Catholic Charities in their time of crisis, seeking help and hope.
The theme of this year’s event was Hope Anchors the Soul, taken from Hebrews 6:19.
When asked what makes Catholic Charities so special, Ed answered, “It is each and every one of you. You make Catholic Charities special.”
Catholic Charities is an institutional response of the Church to answer Christ’s call to help and advocate for the poor, the needy and the oppressed regardless of faith, he said. Catholic values, teachings and traditions of the Church provide the foundation for its mission and work.
“Being there for our brothers and sisters in need is the essence of Catholic faith and tradition,” Ed said. “The ministry of Catholic Charities is deeply committed to providing charitable and compassionate assistance to those individuals and families who need a hand to help them through a crisis or difficult situation. It is your unselfish generosity, care for others and your commitment to Catholic Charities that makes us so special.”
During his remarks, Ed shared greater insight into the work that Catholic Charities does and the impact that those in attendance have on their work. “Catholic Charities stands with those who are considered disposable,” he said. “Catholic Charities stands with those whose dignity has been denied. Catholic Charities stands with those whose burdens are more than they can bear. Catholic Charities stands with the poor, the powerless and the voiceless.”
Through the personal stories and letters from clients, guests were drawn closer to understanding and participating in the Christian vocation of exercising charity to provide help and create hope for those most in need. Each letter shared throughout the evening was heartbreaking. Each story had a common and consistent characteristic, which was hope.
Pope Francis has said, “Hope is not an idea, it is an encounter.” Ed reiterated that. “It is through hope and the encounters that we have with those who walk through our doors that Catholic Charities has the ability to change people’s lives,” he said. “It is hope that carries those who walk through our doors during their times of despair.” Hope is more valuable than we give it credit for, Ed said. “It is the foundation of the work that we do each and every day. Hope is that soft-burning flame, unable to be extinguished and capable of enduring any conditions. Hope is why each of you are here tonight. We collectively hope for a better world and one for our brothers and sisters here in eastern Connecticut. Hope anchors the soul.”