Vocalist Chrystal E. Williams and Pianist José Meléndez.

Friends of the Franciscan Center gathered at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in Baltimore on Sept. 28 for the 2nd Annual Voices from the Heart Gala — a celebration of the people who built and supported the Franciscan Center over the past 45 years as well as those whom the Center has served.

The magical musical evening featured entertainment by award-winning vocalist and performer Chrystal E. Williams and pianist José Meléndez. WBAL radio personality Clarence Mitchell IV, known as “C-4,” served once again as Master of
Ceremonies for the event.

“An event like Voices from the Heart is so important to organizations like the Franciscan Center because it accomplishes two things,” said Executive Director Christian Metzger. “It raises much-needed funds for us to help those less fortunate and it raises awareness of the epidemic of hunger and homelessness that exists right here in Baltimore.”

The evening began with a VIP reception from 6-7 p.m. and featured a performance by Pianist Antonio Caldwell, a local man who came to the Franciscan Center for assistance after falling on hard times. He is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree for Choral Conducting at Morgan State University.

Many Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi attended the gala including Sr. Ellen Carr, Sr. Irene Marshiano, Sr. Mary Therese White, and Sr. Eileen Quinn.

Following the reception, guests enjoyed a delicious dinner while watching Chrystal and José’s amazing performance. Later, the crow was spellbound as they listened to Sr. Eileen Quinn, a Sister of St. Francis of Assisi, who spoke about “The Joy of a Franciscan Heart.” Sr. Eileen also drew the lucky winner of our Cruise Raffle, Mr. Arthur Milholland.

Our Master of Ceremonies, C-4, challenged guests to help the Franciscan Center meet a critical need, and raised more than $5,000 to help repair our Wheelchair Lift. What a blessing!

A highlight of the event was the moment when Executive Director Christian Metzger presented CEO Tom Phelan of
Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company (formerly IWIW) with the first-ever Spirit of St. Francis Award, recognizing the company’s extraordinary commitment to serving the poor and disenfranchised in our community, in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. That spirit was in evidence throughout the evening.

“We were thrilled to share this beautiful evening with so many wonderful friends and supporters, including the Center’s Founding Director, Sr. Irene,” said Director of Development and Marketing Meg Ducey, “Franciscan spirit filled the room. It truly was a night to remember!”