Social justice champions to be honored at charity dinner

21 Mar 2016

Tickets on sale now. Proceeds support the work of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen,
which last year served 53,000 people through 103 programs regardless of race, religion or ethnicity

CENTRAL/WESTERN N.J. – Two community champions from opposite ends of the Diocese of Metuchen will be honored at the Diocese of Metuchen’s Champions for Catholic Charities Dinner to be held November 10 at the Palace at Somerset Park, Somerset.

The Honorable James M. Cahill, Mayor of the City of New Brunswick, and Sister M. Michaelita Popovice, RSM, a Sister of Mercy and Catholic Charities program director in Phillipsburg, both will be honored for their exemplary work and servant leadership in the communities they serve.

Proceeds from the Champions Dinner support the work of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen.  In 2015, Catholic Charities served 53,000 people through 103 programs in the four counties of the diocese, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.

Jim Cahill has served the City of New Brunswick as mayor since 1991.  During his tenure, New Brunswick has transformed from a declining industrial city into a thriving 21st century urban center, bringing significant tax relief to homeowners.  Over 4,000 market-rate and affordable homes have been built or rehabilitated citywide and 6,500 new jobs were created, resulting in New Brunswick’s consistently low annual unemployment rate.

Catholic Charities’ executive director Marianne Majewski referred to Cahill as a change agent and champion of causes for the underprivileged of New Brunswick. “Mayor Cahill has been a constant ally to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen over the years and has shown tremendous support for our many programs throughout Middlesex County, which benefit countless people in New Brunswick and the surrounding communities,” said Majewski.

Catholic Charities programs in New Brunswick include youth enrichment services, immigration services, a homeless shelter for men, and Unity Square, a 37-block community revitalization project.  “The mayor was a strong partner with us in the development of Unity Square, which now is a vibrant place where community members can gather to learn, have a voice and feel at home,” Majewski said.

A lifelong resident of New Brunswick, Cahill received his early education at St. Peter’s Elementary and High Schools.  He earned an Associate Degree from Middlesex County College, Edison; a Bachelor of Science Degree in Law Justice from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University), Glassboro; a Master of Art Degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University, Newark; and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Seton Hall School of Law, Newark.

Sister M. Michaelita Popovice, RSM, program director at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen in Phillipsburg, has served the Warren Basic Material Needs Program for 25 years.  In particular, she works with households whose members struggle with meeting the basic necessities of life, providing them with food and clothing and the means to create a better tomorrow.

A native of Alpha, Popovice entered the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Mid-Atlantic Community in September 1961 at Mount Saint Mary, Watchung, NJ and professed her final vows in August 1969.   In 2011, she celebrated her Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years as a Sister of Mercy.

“Sister Michaelita is the salt of the earth; she’s a boots on the ground and roll up your sleeves kind of person – I would go so far as to call her the ‘Mother Teresa’ of Warren County,” said Majewski.  “We have 50 plus volunteers at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen Social Service Center who are there because of their devotion to her.”

“While I am sure being honored and the center of attention is the farthest thing from her mind,” Majewski said, “Sister Michaelita is a wonderful role model of the Catholic faith and a real example of social justice at work.”

A certified social worker, Popovice earned a Bachelor of Art Degree in History from Georgian Court University, Lakewood, and a Master of Art Degree in History from Seton Hall University, South Orange.  During her career, she taught social studies at various Catholic schools and served as principal for 13 years at Saints Philip and James School, Phillipsburg.

Tickets for the event are $250 per person and include a cocktail hour, full-course dinner and open bar.   For reservations and information, call 732-562-2438 or email champions@diometuchen.org.

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