Portland, March 17th. Catholic Charities Annual Celebration drew 1,ooo people who were moved to help local children and families in need. Supporters donated nearly $770,000, making the event was the most successful to date for the Oregon nonprofit.  Honorary Chairs were Leslie and Mark Ganz, with Chairpersons Chris and Kimra Corrado

Catholic Charities Executive Director Pietro Ferrari

Catholic Charities Executive Director Pietro Ferrari addresses the large crowd

The evening was hosted by Archbishop of Portland Reverend John G. Vlazny and Catholic Charities Executive Director Pietro Ferrari.

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 which include women; at-risk infants and children; pregnant teens; low-income people in need of affordable housing, counseling; victims of domestic violence, and low-income immigrants and refugees.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Pietro Ferrari 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. “Tonight is all about blessings. 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,” Kimra Corrado said, 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 remarked 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.