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Event recap: Celebration of Hope 2021 virtual gala

Posted by | Catholic Charities of Oregon

On Saturday, March 13, Catholic Charities and our supporters came together as a community to spread goodwill and celebrate the resilience of Oregonians in greatest need at our annual Celebration of Hope gala. Led by our co-chairs, Catholic Charities Board Chair Kathy Swift and Eva Garcia, we answered the call of those who have lost their homes, stability, and livelihoods to provide them with the help and hope they need on the path to recovery.

Thanks to hundreds of generous hearts and hands, as of 11:00 a.m. on March 15, we raised $629,930 of unrestricted funds! That generous outpouring of support ensures that Catholic Charities can continue to help improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in need, reminding them they are not forgotten as they continue along their paths to recovery, stability, and self-sufficiency.

If you missed the gala and would like to make a gift to help our brothers and sisters in need, there’s still time to make a difference.


This year was different not only because we gathered virtually, but—more importantly—because people need our services more pervasively and urgently than ever. For those struggling to rebuild due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Oregon wildfires, our community is a lifeline. Marilu and Pedro are one example, among thousands, whose futures now depend on Catholic Charities—and how gestures of compassion (like yours) can change the trajectory of their lives after unimaginable tragedy. We thank Marilu and Pedro for their courage and willingness to share their story with us.

As our Executive Director, Deacon Rick Birkel, PhD, said in his remarks:

If there is a silver lining—and we believe there is—it is in that Disaster provides us a moment to “Dream Big” to double down on critical projects, to rethink priorities, and to imagine how we can rebuild a community BETTER than it was. We choose to believe that we can overcome the extraordinary losses people have suffered by coming together in solidarity—by walking alongside the victims and by sharing in their suffering and their dreams—and trusting that the Lord will show us the way to a better future.”

A big thanks to the Portland Columbia Symphony for capturing that sentiment and the emotion of the evening in their rendition of Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies (Berlin, 1926) and to all the speakers at our event, including the Most Reverend Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.

As leader of the Catholic Church in Oregon, Archbishop Sample offered words of comfort and guidance to our community in these times of tragedy, confusion, and upheaval:

“Contemplate the face of Christ. It is precisely that that we are all called to do. There are many ways to see the face of Christ. We see the face of Christ especially in those who suffer. When we look at those who come to us in need, we see in them the face of Christ Himself. But then we are also supposed to show them the face of Christ—that face of love, that face of compassion, and the face of hope. Hope in times of struggle.”

We thank the Archbishop for his poignant teachings and prayers as we serve those in need of help and hope and rebuild the social and economic fabric of our community.

This year’s Celebration of Hope is one we will always remember, and we hope you will, too. If you missed the gala and would still like to participate, there are plenty of ways to show your support:


As we forge ahead on the path to recovery alongside those we serve, we hope you’ll continue to join us in our work. Once again, we send heartfelt thanks to our donors, partners, volunteers, and supporters for their generosity and to all the participants of Saturday’s event. Because of you, Catholic Charities remains a beacon of light in times of darkness.

We hope to “see” you again next year at our 2022 annual Celebration of Hope gala.



Berlin, Irving. (1926). Blue Skies [Performed by B. Baker. In musical (Betsy)]. New York, NY: Irving Berlin Music Company.