HONOREES • Those honored with a Community Service Award pose for a photo during the gala.
HONOREES • Those honored with a Community Service Award pose for a photo during the gala.

By Rose O’Connor, Correspondent

Those who attend the annual Mount Carmel Guild of Trenton gala can certainly say that each year is special.

But the event held Oct. 20 in the Trenton Country Club was one that will stand out not only for being the first sold-out gala in its 22-year history – it was also the last for Marie Gladney, who earlier this year announced her retirement as the Guild’s executive director.

“This is wonderful,” she said as the Gala unfolded during the evening. “There’s 350 people here. We can’t fit any more,” she said, adding, “Money is tight for the Mount Carmel Guild, as it is with all nonprofits, so this is truly wonderful.”

During the Invocation, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., praised Gladney and her work with the Guild.

“It’s a privilege to be here tonight to support the Mount Carmel Guild and to acknowledge and congratulate Marie Gladney on her retirement,” Bishop O’Connell said.  “We pray this evening that you bless us, bless all those who support the Mount Carmel Guild and bless especially those whom we serve – the poor and needy. 

“Touch their lives, lift them up and help us to do the same,” he added.

Brian J. Duff, Esq., vice president of the Mount Carmel Guild board, served as one of the emcees of the evening and echoed Bishop O’Connell’s congratulations as Gladney begins the next chapter in her life.

“We are grateful; we are indebted to her service over the last eight-and-a-half years,” he said. “She has cultivated a tremendous working relationship among the staff and the board and perhaps more importantly, with our clients, with those most in need, with our donors and other stakeholders. Her top-notch personal and organizational skills have brought the Guild to what it is today: a vibrant anchor in our community helping to provide hope and to preserve dignity – our core mission.”

During the gala, Community Service Awards were given to 13 honorees of Mercer County for their charitable works within their parishes, Catholic schools and to the Guild.

Guild supporter William Chrnelich, who presented the awards, applauded honorees and supporters, saying, “Thank you for your unrelenting service to the Guild and to help support the purpose of the Guild through the generosity of your time, talent and treasure.”

“Greater than 70 percent of every dollar raised by the Guild goes directly to serving those in need through emergency assistance programs and Home Health Nursing,” he also noted.

Dominican Sister Loretta Maggio, director of the Guild’s emergency assistance program, highlighted services provided by Home Health Nursing services. She spoke of the free nursing services that allow seniors to stay in their homes and illustrated how the nursing program not only provides medical assistance, but also gives “hope and restores dignity to the clients of Mount Carmel Guild.”

In his keynote address, Msgr. Michael J. Walsh, pastor in St. James Parish, Pennington, encouraged guests to “think of yourself in the matter in which you can, in the words of Pope Francis, ‘continue to accompany the people’ of Mercer County who at some time had a particular need ... It is so important in the life of all of those in Mercer County no matter where they live, no matter what their socio socio-economic fabric, that they have others accompany them on the journey.  That is when we truly lift each other up, that is when we recognize the goodness in every person, the value that every life has, the tremendous capacity that people have to make a difference in one another’s lives.”

During the evening, Gladney fondly reflected on the success of the gala and her time at the Guild, thanking those who continue to support the Guild and, also, her staff of seven full-time and three part-time individuals to whom “she is very grateful.”

As she looks ahead to her retirement at the end of the calendar year, Gladney offered her hopes for the organization that she served for eight years.

“I hope and pray that the Guild continues to thrive and serve those in need.  I hope it continues to bless others as it has blessed me,” she said.

Gladney’s prayer for the continued success of the Guild was echoed by its fervent supporters, including those who were honored during the evening.

“I am humbled. But this is not about me,” acknowledged Patricia Moser McCathy, former Guild board member. “It’s all about the Guild.”

She lauded the Guild for its assistance to the working poor. “These are people who are trying, who are making minimum wage and may need more help.  The Guild is there for them.”

Fellow honoree Deacon Frank Golazeski recalled his first encounter with the Guild in 2010, when exhausted from a day of work, he was mistaken for a client when he visited the organization to drop off donations.

“I was asked, ‘Are you dropping off or picking up?’ and it struck me then how quickly things could change and I could very well be in need one day,” he said.

Also expressing her appreciation was Anne Reap, Trenton Catholic Academy Lower School director, who, for more than a decade, has included Mount Carmel Guild among the charitable organizations supported by her Hamilton school students.

Many of the students that Reap has served over the years were present at the gala, assisting the committee in selling raffle tickets and door prizes.

“We stress service learning at TCA, and Mount Carmel Guild is one of the organizations that is near and dear to my heart,” Reap offered.

For more information on the services offered by Mount Carmel Guild or to make a donation, visit www.mtcarmelguild.org.