More than 700 friends and members of local Catholic philanthropies attended a Woman of the Year luncheon Friday at the Anaheim Marriott. Hosted by the Catholic Charities Auxiliary of the Diocese of Orange, the benefit featured a procession of 34 women nominated by their parishes or other Catholic organizations for outstanding volunteerism. From among the nominees, Kathleen Ivankay of Stanton, was chosen to receive this year's top award.
The Winner Is
Ivankay, who is deaf, was nominated by the Catholic Deaf Community at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange. Her work with the deaf has included founding a teen group, leading adult religious programs, organizing monthly Masses conducted in sign language and assisting immigrants with job training, education and legal rights. In addition, she has provided shelter in her home and financial aid to deaf homeless people and acted as an interpreter for emergency medical and legal associations.
Bishop Norman McFarland of the Diocese of Orange presented Ivankay with a gold medallion imprinted with the Catholic Charities Auxiliary's emblem.
The crowd began to gather at 10:30 a.m. near a banquet room decorated with fresh-cut pink tulips on pale pink tablecloths. Volunteers sold raffle tickets as guests found their way to cash bars.
Event chairwoman Gerry Monahan made round-trips between the sequestered nominees (who sipped coffee and munched pastry in a little room) and the arriving masses. High attendance at the luncheon--nearly 100 more guests accepted this year than last--caught everyone off guard, she said.
"When I heard we were going up over 700 (guests), my first thought was, 'Oh my gosh! Do I have enough table decorations?' " Monahan joked. "But really, we're thrilled to have so many people here. I think it's because we keep the ticket price so low--$30. A lot of the people here are on fixed incomes, and if we raise the price we'd lose 'em."
At noon, guests headed into the banquet room for words of welcome by Monahan and Msgr. John Urell. With Urell leading, the crowd sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth" as the 34 nominees entered the banquet room.
After lunch of chicken Chardonnay, McFarland introduced the nominees and presented Ivankay with her medallion.
At the Podium
"This has been an incredible year we've lived through," said Sister Kristan Schlichte, executive director of Catholic Charities of Orange County.
Mentioning the Kurds and the natural disasters that have befallen Bangladesh, she asked, "Sometimes all of it gets so overwhelming, doesn't it? We think, 'What can I do?' "
Warning her audience not to think that "the only things that matter are far away," Schlichte recommended that "each one of us has to do something to change our hearts . . . do something to change our neighborhoods.
"That's not to discount the fact that there is still pain and suffering in the world, but some of it has been relieved--thanks to the work of these 34 women."
On the Dais
Seated at the head of the banquet hall with McFarland, Schlichte, Monahan and Urell were Bishop Michael Driscoll, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange and Msgr. John Sammon of the diocese.
Barbara Ann Smith, president of the Catholic Charities Auxiliary, was also on the dais, with Mary Ufier, awards chairwoman and Linda Smith, last year's winner.