At the SOAR! New York City Award Dinner, hundreds of benefactors gathered to celebrate the lives and legacy of Catholic Sisters, Brothers and Priests.

The gala, held Sept. 28 at the New York Athletic Club, is a major fundraiser for SOAR! — Support Our Aging Religious — which provides grants to religious congregations to meet the practical needs of their retired members.

Each year at the dinner, SOAR! recognizes organizations and individuals for their leadership and contributions to the Catholic community. This year’s honorees were Wally Probst, Helene Shepard and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

Helene Shepard, national regent for the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, received the inaugural Dorothy Day Service Award for her lifetime of advocacy and volunteerism. When she accepted her award, Helene said she owes her life of service, in turn, to the inspiring Catholic Sisters who taught her and formed her.

Wally Probst and Catholic Charities both received the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for their leadership and generosity in the Catholic community.

Wally retired from Merrill Lynch in 2016 after a nearly 50-year career as a financial advisor; he has been a loyal supporter of SOAR! since its founding in 1986. After growing up attending Catholic school, Wally said that responding to the mission of SOAR! was easy. “Working with SOAR! is my way of saying thank you,” he said.

Catholic Charities, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year in New York, also owes its roots to the work of Catholic religious. Long before its formal establishment in 1917, men and women religious were organizing to meet the needs of vulnerable New Yorkers. They remain at the backbone of Catholic Charities’ work to provide help and create hope. Today, 25 different religious orders sponsor almost half of agencies affiliated with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

At the conclusion of the dinner, Sister Pat Codey, SC invited attendees to join her in a prayer of thanksgiving, acknowledging men and women religious, the dinner honorees and SOAR! benefactors. “For SOAR! where retired and infirm religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests are empowered to feel whole again, we pray,” she said. “Thank you.”