Calling the nearly 500 guests attending the Cardinal’s Christmas Luncheon “an incredible sign of Advent hope,” Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of archdiocesan Catholic Charities, said the organization’s agencies never stopped caring for kids in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Msgr. Sullivan showed how Charities responded when many students were facing the stress of not being able to attend school. He cited counseling services offered by Astor Services for Children and Families in the Bronx and the Hudson Valley, including new telehealth initiatives, as well as a learning lab opened at a Catholic Charities community center in Harlem to assist the children of working parents.
“The toll (the pandemic) took on our children is oftentimes still hidden,” said Msgr. Sullivan at the 76th annual Cardinal’s Christmas Luncheon Dec. 1 at the New York Hilton Midtown.
“Your generosity today enables us not to forget the children, who still struggle with the pandemic,” Msgr. Sullivan said. He called the support “tremendously uplifting to our city, to our Church and to the work of Catholic Charities.”
The luncheon benefits the women and children served by agencies and programs affiliated with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York in association with the archdiocesan Ladies of Charity, who were represented by their president, Mary Buckley Teatum, who encouraged all guests to “be a Christmas angel” by performing one act of kindness for those in need.
Honored at the luncheon was Joan B. O’Connor, a parishioner of St. Joseph’s in Bronxville who received the Christmas Angel Award for her support of Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of New York as well as Catholic Relief Services. She and her husband, Jerry, who were married for 48 years and raised six children, together established the O’Connor Family Foundation.
Cited with the Spirit of St. Nicholas Award were Kathleen and John McAvoy, high school sweethearts now married and the parents of four daughters, including one whose life was tragically shortened by a brain tumor.
The McAvoys have been steadfast in their support of Catholic Charities. “Kathy and I often say that New York City simply does not run without Catholic Charities, and I believe that to be totally true,” John McAvoy said.
Cardinal Dolan reminded guests that best-selling author Mary Higgins Clark, who died in 2020 at age 92, said that the Cardinal’s Christmas Lunch “officially launches” the Christmas season in New York.
All the familiar sights and sounds were in place, including the choir from St. Raymond School in the Bronx, which performed Christmas hymns and popular favorites at the top of the program and then joined soloist Brandie Sutton and students from St. John Chrysostom School in the Bronx for a rousing version of Joy to the World to conclude the luncheon.
The St. John’s students also formed the Christmas tableau as they joined with Cardinal Dolan, who read the familiar words from Luke 2: 11-14.
Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” co-host Rosanna Scotto served as mistress of ceremonies.