Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby delivers his speech at the annual Bishop’s Charities Dinner Feb. 9. Photo by Tony Gosgnach

Hamilton bishops’ dinner keeps growing

By  Tony Gosgnach, Catholic Register Special
  • February 17, 2013

HAMILTON, ONT. - It has become the highlight of the Catholic social calendar in the Hamilton area over the past quarter-century and this year was no exception as more than 800 people filled Carmen’s Banquet and Convention Centre on Feb. 9 for the 28th Annual Bishop’s Charities Dinner and Dance.

About $80,000 was raised from attendees, sponsors and patrons, to be distributed in the near future by Bishop Douglas Crosby at his discretion to causes he believes are most in need. During the history of the event, founded and staged by local Knights of Columbus councils, well over $1 million has been raised by Crosby and his predecessor Bishop Emeritus Anthony Tonnos and passed along to recipients such as the Good Shepherd, Birthright, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton and medical care in Haiti through St. Joseph’s International Outreach Program.

“This occasion, really annually, is second to none,” Crosby remarked during his speech. “Not only does it raise funds for many good works in the Hamilton diocese, but it is a time for us to gather together as a Catholic community, brothers and sisters in the Lord, to enjoy the time together.”

It was not always that way, though. The chair of the event from the beginning, Fred Miscio, recalled how the first dinner and dance, held in a church basement, almost had to be cancelled because of a lack of interest. In the end, it did wind up raising a modest $2,800. It has grown by leaps and bounds since that time, graduating from the basement to a banquet centre and then to the largest such hall in Hamilton.

During his speech, Crosby referred to the recent passing at age 60 of Msgr. Vincent Kerr, former judicial vicar and chancellor of Hamilton diocese, as evidence of how “life is very short and precious, indeed. We must make something of the very brief time we are given … This wonderful event helps us do that in spades. We celebrate that we are here and that we are together, first and foremost.”

Crosby added that as he enters his third year as bishop of Hamilton, he is impressed by the goodness he has seen every day in the diocese.

“There is so much good going on … We reach out and provide care to the entire community, especially when people are in need. So thank you to so many of you who are here this evening.”
Crosby pledged that “every penny will be given to worthy works within the diocese … We will all participate in those works and benefit from the graces that come from those works.”

As the disc jockey keyed up the dance music at the end of the evening, Miscio remarked that, at age 81, it may be time for him to pass the reins of the event on to someone younger. He sees it even moving to the larger Hamilton Convention Centre as it continues to grow.

“It’s a hot-ticket item every year now … It’s an event where people are lined up for it.”

(Gosgnach is a freelance writer in Hamilton, Ont.)


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