Norwich Diocesan Catholic Charities Marks 95 Years with Gala - April 9, 2016
L-R: Edward Tessman, Catholic Charities Executive Director, Meg Gustafson,
John Gustafson (Meg’s husband), Bishop Michael R. Cote, D.D.,
Caitryn Gustafson (Meg’s daughter) and Johnny Gustafson (Meg’s son).
NORWICH – The Catholic Charities 95th Anniversary gala was held on Saturday, April 9th at the Mystic Marriott. The evening began at 6:00 PM with a cocktail hour and Silent Auction, where 63 items were on display in the foyer and three adjoining rooms. In the Mystic Ballroom with approximately 150 in attendance, Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D began the evening with a blessing of the “Flames of Remembrance” candles and the opening prayer. Kevin Hogan news anchor at WFSB, Channel 3 was Master of Ceremonies.
It was a very special evening honoring individuals in our community who have made a difference in the lives of others, through their charitable works. Those honored were: “Humanitarian of the Year” – Meg Gustafson has been providing homes for babies in need for decades. Meg and her family have provided round-the-clock care for 27 newborn babies since 2002! In the time that Meg has been with Catholic Charities, not one hospital request has been denied, accepting a new baby into her home within a mere 24-hour period. At the time Meg applied to be a foster mother, her two children were six (6) and ten (10) years old and she said how fortunate she was to be a stay-at-home Mom to her daughter and so. When her children were in school full time, Meg said she felt it was the perfect time to be a foster family. She said “to love and nurture and care for an infant would be a joy and a blessing for us.” If caring and loving 27 newborns has been a blessing for Meg and her family, there is no doubt that the blessings received by those babies has been immeasurable. The Willimantic Advisory Board was chosen as “Community Servants of the Year.” This group of dedicated individuals, Jack Lester, Annette Murphy, John McGill, Lynda Nappi, Joyce Peters, Gary Pillion, Pat McGill and Beth Murphy has been raising funds for the Willimantic Office of Catholic Charities for many years, their largest raised approximately $2,000 this past October.
Jacqueline Keller received the “Honoring our Heritage Award” for her numerous contributions to Catholic Charities. Jacqui has served Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Norwich for the past 37 years. In 2013, His Holiness Pope Francis, awarded Jacqui the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifici Cross of Honor Medal, the highest honor awarded to a layperson for Distinguished Service to the Church and Supreme Pontiff. For the past 60 years, she has been a member of the Secular Order of St. Francis.
Catholic Charities “Employee of the Year” chosen by her peers, was Therese Fontaine. Terri has worked for Catholic Charities for eight (8) years. She was a member of the core group who implemented the Agency’s Electronic Health Record System. Terri lives the mission of Catholic Charities each and every day by responding to Christ’s call to care for those in need. Her co-workers say “her positive attitude is contagious.”
Another very special moment in the program was the establishment of the Margaret L. Keller Catholic Charities Heritage Endowment Fund by her daughter, Jacqui Keller. The purpose of the endowment fund is “to provide single mothers with financial aid to further their education to break the cycle of dependence.” Bishop Cote presented a plaque to Jacqui for her generosity in “having an impact on the lives of single mothers who will now be able to make their way out of poverty through education.”
Catholic Charities’ Executive Director, Ed Tessman ended a wonderful evening saying “As I look over this room tonight, I am truly inspired by the outpouring of support for Catholic Charities and look forward to our future with the hope of continuing our tradition of serving the poor and disadvantaged, of all faiths, throughout Eastern Connecticut. I want to thank you for your continued support and prayers.”
For more information please contact: Mr. Edward J. Tessman: 860-889-8346, firstname.lastname@example.org
Catholic Charities Diocese of Norwich Inc. is a 501(c)(3)charitable organization registered in Connecticut.