Last Thursday evening I attended the annual Salt and Light Dinner sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg. It was held at Stratigo's, a local banquet facility very near to where I live. Bishop Lawrence Brandt hosted the event, which is a major fund raiser for the outreach of Charities to the needy. This year's event was the fifteenth such gathering.
Each year the bishop shares an award for Philanthropy and one for Humanitarianism, and this year a special award was given for Outstanding Leadership in the Church. The recipients this year were John F. Kane of Saint Margaret Mary Church in Lower Burrell for Humanitarianism - for extraordinary service to the Church over the years - and to Rocco Panucci of Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensburg for his generosity and service that has been a part of his family tradition. Both gave very moving acceptance speeches that truly revealed their humble spirits.
This year's special presentation and award was given to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M.,Cap, of Philadelphia. He was recognized for his leadership in the Church both locally as our Metropolitan but also in the national Church. He gave the keynote presentation on Religious Freedom in the United States. I must say that I was very impressed with his presentation, the clarity of thought and the simplicity of delivery as well as the timeliness of the topic. This is the second time that I have heard him speak (at Bishop Persico's Ordination in Erie) and I find him a gentle teacher. His speech can be found on our Diocesan web site www.dioceseofgreensburg.org by hitting the appropriate headline on the front page banner. It is worth the read.
I think that I shared last year some of the stats from Catholic Charities regarding this dinner. Not including this year's take, this dinner has raised and Charities has disbursed $798,848.29 in the areas of gas and/or heating fuel assistance, electricity, water and sewage, emergency food boxes, lodging and other emergency needs. Nearly 8,000 households have received assistance over these years from this dinner in our four counties. These services are provided with the deepest respect for human dignity and the hope of building a foundation for self sufficiency.
In addition to Bishop Brandt and Archbishop Chaput, Bishop Emeritus Anthony G. Bosco was in attendance (he instituted the award) as well as Archabbot Douglas Nowicki of Saint Vincent Archabbey. There were about 300 in attendance. I was blessed to be one of them.