Catholic Charities Announces Honorees for 2018 Gala

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Allentown – which provided vital services for more than 20,000 individuals and families last year throughout Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkill counties – will hold its 11th Annual Gala with the goal of increasing fundraising for the less-fortunate in our communities.

This year’s gala will be Sunday, March 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the University Center of DeSales University, Center Valley. The evening will feature live and silent auctions, a special appeal, presentations to the honorees and a special raffle.  Click here for information about tickets and sponsorship opportunities.

This year’s Gala honorees are Msgr. John McCann, pastor of Immaculate Conception BVM Church, Douglassville, and the Honorable William and Rosemary Ford, parishioners of the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.

Msgr. McCann
Msgr. McCann graduated from Marian High School, Tamaqua and began his college studies at Allentown College of St. Frances de Sales (now DeSales University).

After completing his first year of college, he entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia to begin his studies for the priesthood.

In 1980 he was chosen by then Bishop of Allentown Joseph McShea to complete his studies for the priesthood at the Pontifical Roman Seminary and the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome, Italy.

Msgr. McCann was ordained to the priesthood in 1985, after which he returned to Rome, where he earned a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.

He completed an internship at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family in 1986. Also that year he was named assistant pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, Whitehall and served as an advocate on the Diocesan Tribunal.

In 1987 he was transferred to Immaculate Conception BVM Church, Allentown and assigned to the Catholic Social Agency (now Catholic Charities) and Social Action Bureau of the Diocese of Allentown, where he held a variety of direct service and administrative posts.

In 1992 he was awarded a master’s degree in social work from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Msgr. McCann was appointed executive director of the Catholic Social Agency of the Diocese of Allentown in 1994.

In 1995 he was named a Chaplain of His Holiness by Pope John Paul II.

In addition to his leadership role at the Catholic Social Agency, Msgr. McCann also served as a member of the Social Welfare Department of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference 1994-98. He served as moderator of this department 1995-98.

In 1998 newly installed Bishop of Allentown Edward Cullen appointed Msgr. McCann vice chancellor of the Diocese of Allentown and secretary to the bishop. He was appointed secretary for clergy and chancellor of the Diocese in 1999.

Msgr. McCann was named pastor of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Sacred Heart churches, Nesquehoning; and to his current position as pastor of Immaculate Conception BVM Church, Douglassville in 2006.

In 2007 Msgr. McCann was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI.

Msgr. McCann has been active in a variety of community-based organizations, serving as both a member and officer of various governing and advisory boards. He also serves as a member of the Berks County Mental Health-Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board.

William and Rosemary Ford
Rosemary Ford attended Allentown Central Catholic High School High, Immaculata College and DeSales University.

When the couple’s youngest child went to school, Rosemary began work as a kindergarten aide at the Cathedral School, now St. John Vianney Regional School, Allentown.

A current member of Women’s Alliance of the Cathedral, she served on its board for more than 30 years.

She also is a member of the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society and serves as a Eucharistic minister.

William Ford served for 24 years as a trial judge on the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas.

He began his legal career in the U.S. Marine Corps as an officer in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Division, where he was trial counsel at courts-martial. After his military service, he entered the private practice of law. He also prosecuted all manner of criminal cases as an assistant district attorney.

He was elected judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Lehigh County in November 1991 and retained for a second 10-year term in November 2001. He retired in 2015.

For 15 years he was an adjunct faculty member at DeSales University and at Chestnut Hill College in its graduate program.

He has served on the boards of the Lehigh County Bar Association, Sacred Heart Hospital, Allentown Central Catholic High School and DeSales University. He also has done other church and community work, including 30 years as a coach with the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO).

The couple was married in 1971 at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Allentown, and has 11 children and 32 grandchildren.

The Gala 
“We couldn’t be more excited to be honoring Msgr. McCann and William and Rosemary Ford, who, throughout their lives, have exemplified and supported the mission and services of Catholic Charities in their communities,” said Diane Bullard, Catholic Charities’ executive director.

Evelyn and Anthony Carfagno will serve as gala chairpersons for the second year.

Other committee members are Lina Barbieri, Patty and Paul Huck (past co-chairs), Sister Janice Marie Johnson (past honoree), and Sabina and Stephen Olenchock (past co-chairs).

All proceeds from the gala will support Catholic Charities’ programs and services in Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkill counties.

Services include: emergency food pantries; soup kitchens in Allentown, Reading and Pottsville; family counseling; employment and housing assistance; parenting and pregnancy support; support services for veterans and their families; support for older adults; adult day care in Orwigsburg; immigration services; infant adoption; and support services for victims of human trafficking.

You can help support Catholic Charities’ annual gala, thereby funding the vital services it provides, by attending the gala, becoming a sponsor, purchasing an advertisement in the gala program book, purchasing raffle tickets, or making a direct gift to Catholic Charities.

For more information, contact Julie Scheck, Catholic Charities advancement director, at 610-871-5200, ext. 2216 or