What does it mean to serve Marylanders in need?

The answer permeated Catholic Charities’ annual celebration Tuesday night at the Hippodrome Theatre.

Hundreds gathered to honor three community members whose selfless giving has contributed to Catholic Charities’ mission, and to recognize five Catholic Charities employees who exemplify its commitments in a particularly outstanding way.

Msgr. Arthur F. Valenzano Joyful Servant Award

photo of Bishop Denis Madden

Most Rev. Denis J. Madden

The Most Rev. Denis J. Madden received the Msgr. Arthur F. Valenzano Joyful Servant Award, which is as named for the late rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was a member of the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees until his passing in Sept. 2015. Like Msgr. Valenzano did, Bishop Madden generously gives of his time, talent and peaceful spirit.

The auxiliary bishop’s work began as a Benedictine monk more than 40 years ago. After earning his degrees in counseling psychology and clinical psychology, he served as an associate pastor at St. Martin and St. Gregory the Great. During the same years, he was on the faculty at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, teaching, treating patients, and conducting research. It was then that he began to work with Catholic Charities as a family counselor.

In 1988, he served on the Ecumenical Institute of Tantur in Jerusalem. He taught, directed the Semester Abroad program for the University of Notre Dame, and was chief negotiator between the three ecclesiastical authorities responsible for the repair of the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

This, and his background in Baltimore, brought him to a greater calling to seek peace. He and others established the Accord Foundation, to support joint humanitarian projects between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Beginning in 1996, Bishop Madden served as vice president of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, and associate secretary general of the Catholic Near-East Welfare Association. Among its duties, that group responds to urgent humanitarian need and fosters inter-religious relationships.

It is those inter-religious relationships, in particular, that inform his work. He has dedicated his service to finding interfaith solutions for – and prevention of – violence. He leads Baltimoreans on prayer walks throughout neighborhoods traumatized by gun violence.

Distinguished Service Award

Carl Markowitz connected with Gallagher Services after seeking support for his son, Mason, who has intellectual disabilities. Since the early 1990s, he has been an active member of the Gallagher Golf Tournament Committee. Eager to assist in any way, Markowitz actually joined the Ladies’ Auxiliary. Later, the group evolved into the Gallagher Auxiliary and then the Friends of Gallagher. Markowitz stayed active and served as president. 

In 1997, the auxiliary and friends group decided to organize a Christmas concert to celebrate Gallagher’s 20th anniversary. That event morphed into the Christmas Festival at the Basilica – one of Catholic Charities’ signature events and a highlight of Baltimore’s Christmas celebrations. For the last 10 years, Markowitz has been a member of the Gallagher Quality Assurance Team, making sure parents feel connected and have input into the ways Catholic Charities serves their daughters and sons living with intellectual disabilities. He is on the Gallagher Standing Committee and the Strategic Planning Committee, defining the program’s future. And he’s helping spearhead the Family Advisory Group. That group works on Gallagher’s development as we look at increasingly individualized support.

Anne Lindsey Otenasek Youth Service Award

Photo of Severna Park High School Thespian Society

The Severna Park High School Thespian Society

Lindsey Otenasek was an energetic, teenaged Catholic Charities volunteer when she died in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The youth service award in her name honors and perpetuates her spirit and personal commitment to helping others. It is given to a high school or college individual or group that shows outstanding volunteer commitment to Catholic Charities.

The Severna Park High School Thespian Society acts on its members’ compassion, choosing a charity to serve each year. Last year, the society adopted Sarah’s House, a Catholic Charities program for families experiencing homelessness in Anne Arundel County, as its charity of choice. Led by Society President Alena Carhart, the student performers invited the children of Sarah’s House to be exclusive audience members at their dress rehearsals, and volunteered after school to help the Sarah’s House kids with their homework. Through the sale of tee shirts and other items, and through some of the proceeds for their own ticket sales, they raised $14,000 for Sarah’s House.

Mission In Action

In addition to the three distinguished awards presented to our community volunteers, Catholic Charities also recognized five employees with its annual Mission In Action Award. The award honors colleagues who exemplify Catholic Charities’ commitments to dignity, compassion, humility, collaboration, excellence and integrity in a particularly outstanding way. These five recipients include Carmel Deckelman, M.D., Psychiatrist, Villa Maria Community Resources; Susan Madder, R.N., Nurse, St. Vincent’s Villa Residential Treatment Center; John Matthews-Bey, Lead Teacher, Catholic Charities Head Start of Baltimore City; Paula Sawka-Ferris, House Counselor, Gallagher Services; and Regan Vaughan, Director of Advocacy

Click to meet the Mission In Action honorees

“All of these individuals live our values to love, serve, teach and work for justice,” said Bill McCarthy the Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Baltimore. “We thank each and every one of our supporters for all the ways you have helped to create a smoother path for Marylanders in need.”

Catholic Charities’ impact

The evening also thanked supporters and friends who have contributed to the astonishing impact of Catholic Charities on Baltimore City and the nine counties it serves. Among the many ways Catholic Charities has helped individuals and families improve their lives over fiscal year 2018:

  • 404 people found permanent housing
  • 335 found jobs (about half with benefits)
  • 534,126 meals were served to those in need
  • Safe Streets of Sandtown-Winchester intervened in 515 conflicts, preventing them from becoming violent
  • 56,422 people received emergency services and/or case management
  • 571 unaccompanied minors were reunited with families or sponsors
  • 9,680 people, including children, received behavioral health care