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Mary Ellen Robinson
Chief Operating Officer

June 2017
Dear Friends,

            This past month, we held our 68th annual Christopher Awards ceremony. A special thanks to our presenters, Father Jonathan Morris, Ernie Anastos, Tony Aiello, Joan Bauer, and Father Peter Le Jacq, for their distinguished presence at the podium throughout the night. What a privilege it was for us all to gather together with creators of books, films, and television programs that affirm the highest values of the human spirit. Congratulations to all of our winners! For photos of the event and a full list of our winners, click here.

            Our Christopher Leadership Award went to Patti Ann McDonald, who inspired her husband, NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, to go on living a life filled with hope after being paralyzed from the neck down when he was shot in the line of duty 31 years ago. Steven passed on earlier this year, and Ernie Anastos led us all in a moment of silence and a prayer of “eternal life” for Steven. We are grateful to people of all faiths who were present to share in this beautiful moment.

NYPD Sergeant Conor McDonald, who is Steven and Patti Ann’s son and a fourth generation New York City police officer, joined us at our awards ceremony to introduce his mother. Conor’s poignant account of his father’s heroism and the courage of his mother in leading their family through the darkest of times to a place of hope offered a great reminder of what it means to be a Christopher. Patti Ann followed Conor’s remarks with her own beautiful reflection on her love for Steven and Conor. We are so grateful to have had them with us at our ceremony to give witness to the call to service that their family has answered in such a sacrificial way. 

Dr. Chuck Dietzen was the recipient of our James Keller Award for his work in bringing healthcare to children around the world. Dr. Dietzen also won a Christopher Award this year for his book “Pint-Sized Prophets,” in which he tells the story behind his mission to develop a network providing pediatric hospice. In his remarks upon being presented with the James Keller Award, Dr. Dietzen referenced his encounter with Mother Teresa, an encounter that inspires his work to this day. In “Pint Sized Prophets,” he details that meeting, noting that it was very informal, and recalling her words to him. “No matter what you’re confronted with, never abandon your patients,” she said to him. “Stay there. Be their hope. Just don’t abandon them. Let them know someone cares.”

Dr. Dietzen refers to his patients as “my gurus,” because he has gained so much wisdom from being in their presence. What a beautiful reminder this is of the value of human life and what a testament his life’s work is to The Christophers’ message that people can change the world when they use their talents for the greater good.

Missionary work can be a profoundly rewarding experience, as demonstrated by Dr. Dietzen’s story as well as by an account written by Jim Collins and posted this month to our Leadership in Mercy page right here on our website. Jim is a good friend of The Christophers, and his story tells of work he recently did with Father Richard Ho Lung’s Missionaries of the Poor in Kingston, Jamaica. It is a powerful and concise account that can inspire all of us in our daily efforts to carry forth the missionary spirit we are called to live.

            Lastly, we’d like to share a snapshot from a recent Communication Skills session presented by Christopher instructor Pam Hammond. In early May, thirteen Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education from the Archdiocese of New York attended this session at St. Theresa’s Church in East Bronx, NY as part of the overall Basic Leadership Training provided by the Catechetical Office. We are so pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the archdiocese on their leadership training and look forward to offering another session next year.

          Thanks to our donors for making all we do possible. You remain in our prayers. 




Mary Ellen Robinson

Vice President/COO