RENEW International, a Catholic not-for-profit organization based in Plainfield, N.J., held its fifteenth annual fundraising gala on June 5, 2014 at the Pleasantdale Chateau, West Orange, N.J. Sr. Terry Rickard, OP, RENEW International’s president and executive director, presented awards to four notable Catholics who have played a significant role in fostering RENEW International’s mission of spreading gospel values in daily life.
“We at RENEW International are truly blessed to pay tribute to the faithfulness, leadership, and service represented by these exemplary individuals,” Sr. Terry said. “They are models of Catholic commitment in their personal and professional lives, with a level of dedication that is exceptional.”
This year’s President's Award was given to Mr. Donald M. Daniels, chairman and co-founder of the Daniels Group, an employee benefits consulting and brokerage firm. Prior to starting the Daniels Group, Mr. Daniels spent 42 years at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, retiring as the chief executive officer in 1991. Mr. Daniels has been a leader in health care in the not-for-profit world, serving on more than 20 health-care boards of directors in a number of Catholic dioceses. He and his wife, Esther, are parishioners at Sacred Heart Parish in Bay Head, N.J. The President’s Award recognized Mr. Daniels’ support in advancing RENEW International’s mission of evangelization, spiritual renewal, and faith formation in dioceses and parishes.
Mr. Donald M. Daniels poses for a picture with his family
Msgr. Neil A. Connolly was this year’s recipient of the Msgr. Thomas A. Kleissler Award, named in honor of RENEW’s president emeritus and co-founder. This award goes to a person who exemplifies the remarkable qualities of Msgr. Kleissler: a visionary spirit of church renewal, commitment to justice as integral to faith, dedication to the formation of lay leadership, and devotion to spiritual renewal through the building of small Christian communities.
Msgr. Connolly was ordained in 1958 for the Archdiocese of New York. Immediately after ordination, he participated in a pioneering archdiocesan language-immersion program in Ponce, P.R. which impacted the future of his ministry and the rest of his life by enabling him to serve among the Latino Catholics in several New York parishes. He has served at St Athanasius Parish, as vicar of the South Bronx, and at St. Mary’s Church on Grand Street.
In 2013, Msgr. Connolly became a senior priest at St. Francis De Sales Parish where he continues to facilitate the development of small faith-sharing communities as a way of being church, something he has done in every parish in which he has ministered.
Msgr. Connolly receives his award from Sr. Terry Rickard, OP
Tom and Frances “Salsey” Sullivan received the Spirit of RENEW Award, given to a person, couple, or group who, through actions in both private and public life, have exemplified the Catholic values central to the mission of RENEW International, and through word and deed have spread the message of the Gospel. Tom and Frances are members of St. Elizabeth Parish in Avon-by-the-Sea. In the early years of RENEW, “Salsey” was a small-community leader and facilitated many groups in her home, including groups of teenagers. Tom has long been an advocate of Catholic education and has served on the boards of several Catholic high schools as well as Providence College and the University of Scranton.
Tom and Salsey Sullivan with their family
The awards were presented as part of RENEW International’s gala reception, auction, and dinner. During cocktails, guests had the opportunity to explore the landscaped grounds and graciously decorated rooms of this French Norman-style former family residence, built in the 1920s. The dinner in the circular ballroom featured dancing to the music of Fortune Entertainment. Throughout the event, guests were able to support RENEW by bidding in the silent auction on a selection of luxury products, unique event tickets and experiences, and special trips.
RENEW International’s gala raises funds each year to support the organization’s mission of building dynamic communities of faith. Through RENEW’s pastoral services for parishes and campuses in the United States and beyond, many Catholics have been strengthened in their faith, returned to the sacramental life of the Church, and reached out to others with acts of charity and justice.