Bagpipes. Irish dancers. A chance to buy dinner with the bishop. This fundraiser had it all.
Ever since we’ve been going to this event, the beloved Father Ragan Schriver, executive director of Catholic Charities, has been the good natured star of the show. Last year, wearing a leprechaun costume, he was nearly attacked by a seeing eye dog that he accidentally startled. This year, the worst that happened was that he had to dance an Irish reel with a cute little girl who was so nervous you could almost see her heart pounding.
Father Schriver has been a long-time fixture at All Saints Church on Cedar Bluff Road. But recently, in addtion to his Catholic Charities duties, he has been assigned to a new parish in Seymour. That has been the subject of many sarcastic remarks from west Knoxvillians who look with somewhat disdain on the southern part of our county.
But last night, the folks from Seymour filled two tables at the toney fundraiser and they broke into enthusiastic whoops and hollers when Father Schriver said from the stage: “Knoxville is not the center of the universe. I’m thinking maybe Seymour is!”
One of the high points of the night was the auctioning off of a dinner for 10 with the diocese’s new bishop, the Most Reverend Richard F. Stika. Bishop Stika will celebrate his one-year anniversary with the diocese today, March 19. The dinner was donated by Connor Concepts, the owners of Chop House and Connor’s restaurants. High bidder was Vince Fusco, who offered up $3,500 on behalf of Greg Dunn of Regal Cinemas, who was out of town and had to miss the dinner. I know Greg Dunn and I can assure you he is going to have a great time at this dinner!
We are going to show you photographic highlights of the evening, of course. But first, a word about Catholic Charities, which last year served 23,000 people, 95 percent of whom were not Catholic. Among other facilities and services, Catholic Charities operates Columbus Home, a group home for teen boys who are separated from their families; Children’s Emergency Shelter, which provides safe, short-term housing for children in immediate endangerment; Parent Place, a safe place for court-ordered supervised visitation; counseling services; disability housing services; and Samaritan Place, which provides housing and respite care for older adults.