Celebration of Hope Gala raises funds for Catholic Charities

The six Women of Hope hold their Hearts in Open Hands statues on the stage in the Muehlebach Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. From left: Carolyn Greene, Estella Morales by her daughter-in-law, Eileen Weir, Anita Gorman, Carol Marinovich and Peggy Dunn. To their right is Christopher Ice and Sister Helen Flemington, CSJ. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The foyer of the grand ballroom of the Muehlebach Hotel teemed with people as night fell Nov. 4, clad in cocktail party attire, greeting friends with hugs, chatting, sipping wine or cocktails and enjoying appetizers as servers invited them to do so. A band played at one end, drawing the partiers in. Groups of religious sisters and priests joined some of the attendees, while others simply strolled around the foyer. The cessation of the music signaled that it was time to find tables in the ballroom as dinner was about to be served. The Celebration of Hope, Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph’s annual gala, had begun.

Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Helen Flemington served as emcee, introducing Father Ken Riley, diocesan Vicar General for Administration and Chancellor, who was to lead the 625 guests in Grace before the meal, as Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., of Kansas City-St. Joseph was on his way back from a trip to India with Catholic Relief Services. As guests began to eat, Sister Helen introduced Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner, who read a proclamation signed by Mayor Sly James declaring Nov. 4, 2017, Women’s Day in Kansas City.

Christopher Ice, the new CEO of Catholic Charities, spoke about the women who were honored.

The Celebration of Hope was to “Shine the spotlight on the contributions of women to the community;” six lay women were highlighted as Women of Hope and the lives of women religious were honored with the St. Teresa of Calcutta Award.

The Women of Hope — Peggy Dunn, Mayor of Leawood, Kan., since 1997; Carol Marinovich, former mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan.; Anita Gorman, the first woman to chair Kansas City’s Board of Parks and Recreation and the first woman appointed to the Missouri Conservation Commission; Eileen Weir, Mayor of Independence since 2014; Estella Morales, who has served the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in several roles for more than a decade, and Carolyn Greene, a long-time member of St. Monica Parish, formerly a Certified Youth Minister working with teens for 37 years, now chairperson of the Evangelization Council, Bereavement Committee and parish council member. She has worked at Children’s Mercy Hospital for 44 years. Each Woman of Hope received a statue of a heart resting on open hands.

St. Teresa of Calcutta established four vows for her fellow sisters: poverty, chastity and obedience and “to give wholehearted, free service to the poorest of the poor.” For this reason, Catholic Charities established the annual St. Teresa of Calcutta Award. The honorees this year are the women religious whose lives mirror and inspire the work of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Accepting the award on behalf of the women religious was Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist Connie Boulch, diocesan director of the Office of Consecrated Life. The religious orders honored included the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles; Benedictines of Mount St. Scholastica monastery, Atchison, Kan., Benedictines of Liberty, Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration, Clyde, Benedictines of St. Joseph the Worker, Congregation of Mary Queen, Congregation of St. Joseph, Wichita, Discalced Carmelites of Jefferson City, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Ill., Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, Labor Mariae Sisters, Little Sisters of the Poor, Mercedarian Missionaries of Berriz, Notre Dame Sisters, School Sisters of Christ the King, Sisters Lovers of Holy Cross, Sisters in Jesus the Lord, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Sisters of Loretto, Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of St. Francis – Savannah, Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.

Ice recounted several stories of clients who, through assistance from Catholic Charities were now finding a way to financial and family stability. He played a video of one client for the audience.

A Fund-A-Need drive and a surprise auction of the Founders Suite with 4 tickets to the Kansas City Chiefs Dec. 10 game vs the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium raised $108,000. Steve Hilliard, Catholic Charities Director of Development, said, with a record number of supporters registered for the event, he expected the total raised to be high. As of Nov. 7, Hilliard said the preliminary figure was more than $525,000.

As a Catholic Charities client prayed, “Lord, I’m asking you to continue to be with me while I’m on my journey, even though it’s been a bumpy journey. Lord, I pray that you help my family.”

The agency recently moved their offices to be more centrally located and closer to their clients. With the financial support given that evening, Catholic Charities will have more resources to help clients like this one find the answers to their prayers.



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October 31, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph