NORWALK—“It’s time to dream even bigger about how Catholic Charities can make God’s love real for those who are suffering,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said at the recent Catholic Charities of Norwalk Celebrity Breakfast held at Shorehaven Country Club.
The annual breakfast raised $. ,000 to support to support the Room to Grow Preschool and the counseling and Behavioral Health Services provided in Norwalk.
More than 400 packed the Shorehaven banquet room to hear the bishop speak, meet new Catholic Charities executive director Mike Donoghue, and bid farewell to Al Barber, who has led that agency for the past 15 years.
Barber received a standing ovation from the gathering after the bishop thanked him for his leadership. “This was not work for you, it was your heart,” the bishop said, “and I’m personally very grateful for your leadership.”
While the mood was festive, the talks by the Bishop and Mike Donoghue pointed out the challenges faced by the poor, vulnerable and struggling served by Catholic Charities in a county of extreme wealth and often invisible poverty and personal anguish.
The bishop said that Catholic Charities has done great work in Norwalk through the generosity of all those who support its work and “believe that faith can make a difference.”
He said that in a divided time, “it is more important than ever to build communities where people can live in peace, children can grow up safely, and people who are hurting can be made whole again.”
Much of his talk focused on the challenges faced by young people who need to be protected from an often predatory social media environment that can lower their self-esteem and make them feel unloved.
“In a world governed by ‘likes,’ it is easy for young people to believe they are never good enough. That’s a lie. God loves us all in his image and calls us to a great life,” said the bishop.
Mike Donoghue thanked the board and bishop for the trust they placed in him, and said that after visiting Catholic Charities sites throughout Fairfield County, he was amazed “by the depth and breadth of services.”
He said that for 102 years in Fairfield County, Catholic Charities has been “feeding the hungry, assisting the poor and emotionally challenged, providing help and creating hope by serving all those in need.”
Donoghue said that “far too many people are hungry” in Fairfield County and that income inequality puts stress on housing, food and the cost of basics for many families who turn to Catholic Charities for help.
He said that New Covenant House of Hospitality serves 600,000 meals a year to the poor of Stamford, and that Merton Center in Bridgeport provides more than 800,000. Morning Glory, housed in the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, serves over 365 breakfasts each morning in downtown Danbury.
In addition to direct relief through its feeding and food pantry programs, he said that Catholic Charities helps clients “to focus on developing skills to move from crisis to stability and growth.”
Many in the hall were moved to tears after watching the powerful new video on Catholic Charities “Room to Grow” Preschool that serves 132 low-income children in Norwalk. The video tells the story of a single mother who suffered many loses and was at risk of losing her children until she found Room to Grow and the child care provided by Catholic Charities.
“I got refuge and hope at Room to Grow,” she said. “God showed himself to me and provided a path for me here,” she said, noting that she has found a job, housing and taken control of her life.
(To learn more about the services provided by Catholic Charities, including Room to Grow Preschool and Behavioral Health Services, visit their webpage at www.ccfairfield.org.)
As seen in Fairfield County Catholic.