Office of Development • 197 Broadway, Norwich, CT 06360 • Phone (860) 886-1928 • Fax (860) 886-2651
2017 Christopher dinner Rejoicing in Our Donors' Generosity
by Mary Ellen Mahoney

 

The Annual Catholic Appeal continued to celebrate its 2017 campaign, themed “Our Faith Calls Us To ACTION!” by hosting its annual Christopher Dinner on Saturday evening, March 18th at the Mystic Marriott. The Christopher Society recognizes those donors who make significant contributions to the ACA. The society is named after Saint Christopher who is believed to have carried the Christ Child across a raging river to safety. Today, the members of the Christopher Society give generously each year to the ACA and thereby do their part in carrying Christ to those in need.

Mrs. Angela Arnold, Executive Director of Development for the Diocese, welcomed everyone to the evening, thanking them for the generosity they demonstrated in last year’s campaign, “MERCY: The Beating Heart of the Gospel”, noting that their kindness along with that of the many other donors to the ACA, amounted in a 2016 ACA total of $2,892,154.58 with an average gift of $254.82. Because of these gifts, the Diocese is able to continue to support its many ministries that help our friends and neighbors meet the struggles of daily life. Social service, spiritual guidance and educational programs are some of the ACA funded programs that provide comfort, sustenance and aid to those suffering hardships. Mrs. Arnold noted that members of the Christopher Society accounted for 43 percent of pledges toward the ACA’s overall total, with the average gift by a Christopher being $1,687.73.

Each year the Christopher Dinner provides a very special opportunity for Bishop Cote to spend time visiting with donors and informally dialoguing with them about the needs of the Diocese and its many programs. After being welcomed to the podium by Mrs. Arnold, Bishop Cote remarked how wonderful it is to see an increased number of Christophers attending the Dinner each year, spreading their enthusiasm for the work of the ACA and the Diocese. Bishop Cote then thanked the Christophers for their enduring commitment to the ACA and explained to them that it is through their faithful dedication to giving that the ACA is able to assist so many. Bishop Cote stated, “Your unwavering support of the Annual Catholic Appeal is an incredible demonstration of your faith in action.” He continued, “As Christophers, your support allows our ministries to demonstrate our Catholic Faith- a Faith that calls US to ACTION and a Faith that has allowed you to respond. Once again, I Thank You!” After Bishop Cote gave the Opening Blessing, Jacob Wallace of Norwich, a cub scout member of Pack 80 and soon to be boy scout, led the room in the Pledge of Allegiance.

In keeping with this year’s ACA theme, “Our Faith Calls US To ACTION!”, Christophers received a magnet containing the phone numbers of each Diocesan ministry as well as the address of the Diocesan website. These cell phone shaped magnets were given with the hope that being able to quickly direct someone in need to a ministry would result in many more people being helped. In addition, the book titled, A Lenten Pilgrimage: Journeying with Jesus, by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain was also given to the Christophers as a smalltoken of appreciation.
 

(Office of Faith Events Panel of Speakers - Left to Right: Aidan & Michael D'Elia, Andrea Hoisl, Stephanie Gromko and Nicholas Cerreta)
 
After a delicious dinner, Mrs. Arnold introduced Mrs. Andrea Hoisl, Director of the Office of Faith Events and members of her panel to conduct a Question and Answer Session. The ministry of the Office of Faith Events is an active resource for all within the Diocese, working to enrich lives and deepen our personal relationship with God through programs and events. The participants in the panel included Ms. Stephanie Gromko, a member of Sts. Peter and Paul, Norwich and a volunteer in the Office of Faith Events. She serves as a member of both the Diocesan Young Adult Council and the Diocesan Youth Council, where she is involved in the planning and implementation of the Diocesan Youth Explosion Retreat Day. Mr. Nicholas Cerreta, a coach and Dean of Students at Xavier, a co- presenter at the Office of Faith Events’ Sports and Spirituality Workshop and a member of the team implementing the Catholic Athletes for Christ program in the Diocesan high schools, was also a member of the panel. The panel was completed by Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Aidan D’Elia of Canterbury. Married for 7 months, the D’Elias attended a Diocesan marriage preparation class and found it very helpful as they embarked on their married life.
 
The panel answered several 2017 Christopher Dinner Rejoicing in Our Donors' Generosity questions addressing issues with which the Office of Faith Events is involved, in a very lively give and take with attendees. When asked about attracting adults back to the Church, the panel shared that hosting activities centered on faith is the key. The Office of Faith Events’ upcoming event, Wine, Wisdom and Why scheduled for April 27th at St. Andrew, Colchester, is a good example of an activity centered on bringing adults closer to the Church in a relaxed, but informative format. For the young adults, the Office has assembled a Young Adult Ministry team which they are in the process of training. The goal will be for members of the team to visit parishes and help them to develop programs geared towards young adults. The panel also referenced the new Sports and Spirituality program that the Office has developed. The goal of this new program is to help students to understand that Sports and Spirituality do not have to compete with one another but can operate in a complementary fashion. They also hope to get students to think about how their teams can work together to make the world a better place. The team structure allows for collaboration far beyond gyms and athletic fields.

Attendees found the Question and Answer Session to be very informative and also appreciated the Office of Faith Events sharing the dates and locations for upcoming programs. For information and a more comprehensive listing of all the programs currently being offered by the Office of Faith Events, please see www.norwichdiocese.org/officeof-faith-events or call (860) 848-2237.

A final highlight of the evening was the traditional George and Gracie exchange by Bishop Cote and Sister Rita Johnson, Director of Pastoral Care at Backus Hospital. For the past few years, the Bishop and Sister Rita have entertained attendees with a brief comedic exchange in the form of a George Burns – Gracie Allen routine. Attendees look forward to the humor and this year did not disappoint.

If you would like more information on donating to the ACA or becoming a Christopher, please contact the Development Office at 860-886-1928 or visit www.norwich diocesedevelopment.org. The 2017 ACA campaign, “Our Faith Calls US To ACTION!” kicked off in parishes on the weekend of March 25-26. This year’s ACA video is online for viewing and online donations are also welcome. 

 

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