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Serving Christ in the Poor: A Celebration
Just a month after the devastating attack on the World Trade Center, New Yorkers and others from across the United States gathered in Manhattan for the Third Annual Friends of the Legion Benefit Dinner.

New York - Baseball superstar Sammy Sosa and businessman-philanthropist Harry Keefe each received the prestigious Friend of the Legion Award at the Third Annual Friends of the Legion Benefit Dinner the evening of October 10.

The dinner raises funds to educate of some of the Legion of Christ´s 2,500 seminarians around the world. The two honorees were recognized for their work in service to the poor as men who rose from childhood poverty to the pinnacle of success, yet never forgot their roots. The theme of the evening´s program was "Serving Christ in the Poor" and featured a variety of presentations on the Legion of Christ´s entrepreneurial approach to bringing Catholics together, lay and clergy alike, to empower the poor with the means of social advancement.

Sosa, who with 64 home runs this past season has had more seasons with 60-plus homers than any other player in baseball history, is a native of the Dominican Republic. At age 16, he was a skinny, malnourished kid who signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. Nearly all of his $3500 signing bonus went back to his family, a pattern of supporting the poor in the Dominican Republic that lasts to this day.

The Legion´s dinner launched an effort that brings together Sosa´s charitable foundation and Helping Hand Medical Mission, a Legionary apostolate founded in 1996 that has brought North American medical expertise to more than 20,000 impoverished patients in Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela and Brazil. Lupita Assad RN of Irving, Tex., director of Helping Hand Medical Mission, announced the group´s first mission to the Dominican Republic in conjunction with Sosa´s foundation. Roberto Saladin, Ambassador
from the Dominican Republic to the United States, was on hand to offer official support for the mission.

Harry Keefe, retired founder of the Wall Street firm Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, grew up in Boston and has remained faithful to his Irish Catholic roots. Now living in Greenwich, Conn., he learned from his mother the importance of supporting priests and built in her memory the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Retired Priests´ Residence in Stamford,Conn. It opened in March 2000.

Mr. Keefe is also keenly interested in education as a key supporter of the Boston Latin School, from which he graduated, as well as Amherst College, Lafayette College, and Wheaton College. Mr. Keefe was instrumental in founding one of the longest-running benefit golf tournaments, the Greater Hartford Open, and was a pioneer in
putting golf on television.

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., offered his thanks to Mr. Keefe. "I know your generosity extends far beyond what you have done for the priests of the Diocese of Bridgeport," Bishop Lori said. "Please accept my warm congratulations and my prayers that God will bless you and your loved ones now and for years to come."

The Legion of Christ went forward with its Benefit Dinner in the aftermath of the attack September 11 at the encouragement of many civic and Church leaders, who stressed the importance of bringing people together and going on with life as normal. Mr. Keefe´s firm lost 67 people in the World Trade Center, friends to whom Mr. Keefe paid personal and moving tribute. Former New York Governor Hugh Carey also spoke about the victims, their families and the rescue workers, and led the attendees in singing "God Bless America" and "New York, New York."

Archbishop Renato Martino, Papal Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
to the United Nations, offered the opening invocation. At the previous year´s dinner, Archbishop Martino received the special Jubilee 2000 Friends of the Legion Award for his years of service defending human rights and the dignity of the poor at the UN.

An entertainment highlight of the evening was the performance of the Highbridge Voices, a choir of adolescents from the impoverished Highbridge section of the South Bronx. Monsignor Donald Sekana founded the choir "as a way to show these children that hard work brings rewards," he said. "It does take hard work, but the children definitely see the rewards. And we get them to apply this lesson to their schooling and other aspects of their life."


Helping Hands Medical Missions - Galeria
- Helping Hands Medical Missions

Related links

Altius Foundation
Catholic World Mission
Helping Hands Medical Missions
St Rafael Guizar y Valencia Missionary Center

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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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