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Catholic Charities video premiere will replace 38th annual ball

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‘By the Grace of God: A Video of Generosity and Service’ aims to inspire critical donations to support ministries serving the poor and vulnerable.

A virtual video premiere and online raffle will take the place of the 38th annual Catholic Charities Ball, which is on hiatus this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers of the ball, originally planned for Feb. 5, have spent months working on the video, which will premiere online the night the gala would have been held.

The ball is Catholic Charities largest single fundraiser, generating critical funds to feed and shelter poor and vulnerable families throughout the diocese.

Organizers said the virtual video premiere will ensure the safety of all while continuing to allow donors to learn about and support Catholic Charities’ 21 ministries, which serve families in need throughout the 21 counties and seven cities of the diocese.

The video, titled "By the Grace of God," will feature Father Robert Cilinski, the diocese’s Episcopal Vicar of Charitable Works and pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Burke, leading viewers on a tour of Catholic Charities ministries, as seen through the eyes of clients, donors, volunteers and staff. 

The video celebrates the work of Catholic Charities, which has continued to meet escalating needs and serve families during the pandemic by providing food, rental and utility assistance, as well as free medical care and education to help breadwinners find critical employment to provide for their families.

Before and after Feb. 5, donors can visit the website to make donations. They also can sign up for the raffle of a Rolex watch donated by Liljenquist & Beckstead Jewelers. To date, nearly 300 people have made a gift toward this year’s goal of $1.1 million.

Last year the festive gala drew a crowd of 1,000 people to the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner and raised a record $1.3 million to support Catholic Charities ministries. The event took place before the coronavirus appeared in Northern Virginia and social distancing restrictions were put into place.

With the ongoing pandemic continuing to affect jobs and the livelihoods of families throughout the diocese, organizers say the need for funds is greater than ever. Between March and December last year, Catholic Charities provided $1.2 million in rent and utility assistance to nearly 1,000 households throughout the diocese. It also provided about 1.6 million pounds of food during 82,313 client visits to Catholic Charities' pantry network, a 73 percent increase in client visits over the same period a year earlier.

Ministries supported by the Catholic Charities Ball include the emergency assistance program, which includes rent and utility assistance to prevent evictions and keep the lights on; transformational housing programs for homeless men at Christ House in Alexandria and homeless single mothers and children at St. Margaret of Cortona Housing in Woodbridge; the St. Lucy Project, a food collection and distribution program that supplies three Catholic Charities pantries and about 50 community pantries throughout the diocese; free health care at Catholic Charities Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinics; mental health counseling for families and individuals; Pregnancy and Adoption Support; Hogar Immigrant Services; Legal, Education and Workforce Development; Migrant and Refugee Services; a prison ministry and Welcome Home re-entry program; a car ministry, and the Catholic Charities’ opioid epidemic initiative.

Find out more
The video "By the Grace of God" will premiere at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 at ccda.net/ball.

Before and after this date, donors can visit the site to donate to Catholic Charities and sign up for the raffle of a Rolex watch donated by Liljenquist & Beckstead Jewelers. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021