TRUMBULL— “It’s because of people like Denis and Britta Nayden, and Gina, and Al Barber that we’re able to do the work we do. So in the name of all of us, all four of you, thank you. And God bless you,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the reception to honor the Barbers and Naydens for outstanding service to the Diocese of Bridgeport.
More than 100 invited guests gathered under a large outdoor tent on the grounds of the Bishop’s residence in Trumbull for the event, which was jointly sponsored by Foundations in Charity and Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, the two organizations led by Barber.
They came together to recognize the extraordinary generosity and commitment of Denis and Barba Nayden and the charitable work of the evening’s guests of honor, AL and Gina Barber of New Canaan on the occasion of Al’s retirement after seventeen years of leadership of Catholic Charities and more recently for his service as founding president of the newly formed Catholic Charities Foundation.
“You have been the face of the charity, which is at the heart of the mission of the Church, that base of Catholic charities. And you have not only done a remarkable job out all the years leading Catholic Charities, you were gracious enough when I asked you to step into the venture of creating Foundation in Charity. You were willing to make the transition and helped give birth to a foundation, which will continue to serve the needs of the poor and the most vulnerable in our midst.”
“I just want to say to you, thank you for your tremendous, tremendous vision, commitment, energy, passion, and love for those who are in need, following in the footsteps of Jesus as you retire,” the bishop said.
The bishop also offered praise to Gina Barber for her own remarkable journey in life as inspiration for Al’s work, an artist, and an active volunteer in her own right.
“Gina, we are also honoring you, not simply because you have helped out all these years, but all you’ve done in your own, right, because of your great love for the church and your love for those in need. You live the mission in your heart in so many quiet ways.”
In honoring Denis and Britta Nayden, Bishop Caggiano said their “extraordinary generosity and personal commitment to many diocesan ministries including education, special needs and social service have created untold opportunity and transformed lives and made a difference in our diocese.”
The bishop said that Denis and Britta are always there when he asks for support, and as a couple they bring great vision and faith to the diocesan mission of serving the most vulnerable who would often have nowhere else to turn.
Anne McCrory, chair of the Foundations in Charity Board and Chief Legal and Real Estate Officer of the Diocese of Bridgeport, organized the evening.
“With a focus on education, special needs and social services, your tremendous generosity has helped families throughout Fairfield County for nearly 20 years,” she said, “Whether through scholarships to the Bridgeport Catholic elementary school students, investing in parish religious education, supporting St Catherine Center for Special Needs, or donating to the many social services provided by Catholic Charities, the Diocese can count on the Naydens to lead by example.”
McCrory said that Denis Nayden’s notable business accomplishments are well documented, “But despite your tremendous successes, from GE to Oak Hill to Alpha and many others, what sets you apart is your desire to give back. With the many philanthropic opportunities knocking at your door, we are so grateful to have you and Britta as a part of our diocesan family.”
Mike Donoghue, who succeeded Al Barber as President of Catholic Charities in 2019, also offered praise to the honorees and spoke about the future of Catholic Charities and all of its service programs including its efforts to find a new home in Bridgeport for the Merton Center and the goal of building family centers around the County that will empower clients and families to move forward in their lives.
Donoghue praised Al Barber for his leadership of Catholic Charities and launching Foundations in Charity, and he encouraged guests to support the fund in honor of Al and Gina Barber.
McCrory thanked all those who attended including members of the boards of Catholic Charities and of Foundation in Charity.
“It was a beautiful and memorable evening, and we’re grateful for all those who came out to celebrate two remarkable couples who have given so much to the diocese and served as models for all those who wish to transform lives through their leadership, volunteering and generosity,” she said.
Conceived by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and the Board of Trustees of Foundations in Charity, the fund will offer donors the opportunity to support the mission and specific programs of Catholic Charities now and into the future. Foundations in Charity, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, was created in 2018 to support the catholic works of charity throughout Fairfield County.
To support the mission of charitable works of Foundations in Charity, visit the website at www.foundationsincharity.org.
*This article was originally published in Fairfield County Catholic.