Cardinal Dolan Embraces the Essence of the Holiday Spirit
Over 1,000 people attended the 69th Annual Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan’s Christmas luncheon at the Pierre hotel. Amidst the glittering lights, three honorees received accolades including Ana Laffont and Joyce and Robert Giuffra.
Ana Laffont, an attorney who earned her JD from CEU San Pablo University in Madrid, is a current member of the Madrid Bar Association. Laffont received the Christmas Angel award for her service through Mary’s Meals, an organization that she chairs. Mary’s Meals helps feed almost one million impoverished children around the world. Laffront was inspired to take action by a friend of hers, a guitarist who passed away.
“At the funeral his guitar was just sitting there a symbol of the beautiful music he performed,” said Laffont. “I realized that the guitar of my life was sitting there empty.” She decided at that moment her goal was to make sure no child goes hungry.
“Love is an action,” said Laffont. “We all have unique gifts we have been given. “ She indicated that everyone has a guitar; you just have to find your special guitar.
Joyce and Robert Giuffra received the Spirit of St. Nicholas award. “Joyce and I are profoundly grateful for this award and would like to thank our friends for supporting Catholic charities; three shout outs to our three wonderful children, Elizabeth, Caroline, and Robert,” said Giuffra. “When Joyce and I were selected to receive the Spirit of St. Nicholas award, I understood why catholic charities would want to honor Joyce; she is a saint, a wonderful wife, mother, and friend and she has devoted many hours to helping others. But, I still think my selection may have been a mistake.”
Joyce Giuffra a graduate of Dartmouth College, served in the White House under George H.W. Bush before she became a press secretary for Senator Dole. She has been a long term volunteer at the Jan Hus Church Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program and serves on the board of the School of American Ballet.
Robert Giuffra, a partner of Sullivan and Cromwell Law Firm, is a graduate of Princeton University. He clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Ralph Winter of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He has been a leader for the Bar, and was president of the federal Bar from 2008 until 2010. His mother, Dr. Mary Giuffra was the founder of the Nursing Department at the college of Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale and served on the board of our Lady of Mercy Medical Center in the Bronx.
Giuffra’s grandmother Mary was an immigrant from Ireland. At the age of 82 she walked through a park and saw a woman with her children and asked if they had a home. Inspired by the woman’s response Mary was determined to help feed the hungry. She started by bringing meals to the park. This caused more hungry people to show up for food. Mary passed away in 2003 at the age of 100, and her charity still feeds thousands of people today. Giuffra said his grandmother lived to be 100 because she had a mission.
“My grandmother always said we come into this world with nothing and we are going to leave with nothing; it’s the good that we do in between that really counts,” said Giuffra. “Today 11 years after my grandmother’s passing, her soup kitchen is a thriving Catholic charity that feeds hundreds of people every year. When my grandparents came to America, the church came with them; the church was their home. The church remains the home for those immigrants who are trying to make it in America.”
Cardinal Dolan said this was the true beginning of the Christmas season. He called upon the audience to look at the Nativity scene in a new light. He said Mary and Joseph were impoverished and forced to leave their home. “There are many families like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph that Catholic Charities helps, thanks to God’s grace,” said the Cardinal.
Each year the Annual Cardinal’s Christmas Luncheon is held to honor Catholic Charities that help aid New Yorkers in need including the Kennedy Child Study Center whose members include Michael W. O’Shaughnessy, Chair of the Board, Jeanne Alter, Executive Director and Dr. Pola Rosen, Board Member. On the stage with Cardinal Dolan was Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York whose leadership is to be admired. #