A True Celebration of Harmony

On April 27, 2018, more than 520 people gathered for the 15th annual Excellence is Ageless Gala, held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, to support Lutheran SeniorLife and recognize two outstanding honorees.

Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and Bishop Kurt Kusserow of the Southwestern Pa. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America were selected to receive this year’s Excellence is Ageless award together.

“Both of these honorees have exemplified through their ministries a servant’s heart to thousands of seniors throughout the region. Many have received an opportunity for a more Abundant Life® because of the work of these men,” said David Fenoglietto, president and CEO of Lutheran SeniorLife.

The two bishops exchanged positions at the podium throughout their addresses to reiterate the theme of the evening: “A Celebration of Harmony.”

During his remarks, Bishop Zubik drew attention to the tremendous progress towards Lutheran—Catholic reconciliation that is represented by a Catholic Bishop being honored alongside a Lutheran Bishop, stating, “This could never have happened 500 years ago; it may have happened 50 years ago, but thank God it is happening tonight.”

Both of the honorees pointed to their predecessors, Catholic Bishop Donald Wuerl and Lutheran Bishop Donald McCoid, for initiating an atmosphere of interfaith cooperation in western Pennsylvania.

Bishop Kusserow encouraged people to work by faith, noting, “You never know how to do what you are called to do until you do it.”

“During their remarks both honorees exemplified the reasons each was honored,” said Jane Bittcher, president of the Lutheran SeniorLife Foundation, which sponsored the event. “They clearly showed how we are never stronger than when we work together.”

Another highlight of this year’s Gala was mobile bidding for the silent auction, sponsored by Northwest Bank. For the first time ever, the general public was welcomed to bid on the Gala auction items, whether or not they would be in attendance at the event. Photos and descriptions of all of the auction items were posted on an auction website, and Gala attendees and the public alike were given the opportunity to bid and rebid in real time until the auction closed that evening. Kiosks were available at the event for attendees without access to their own smart phone or iPad.

As in past years, the auction included approximately 100 items donated by residents, staff, and family members, as well as area businesses. The auction featured professional-quality works created by residents, as well as autographed sports paraphernalia, unique experiences, baskets full of treasures, and tickets to different cultural and sporting events.

The enhanced bidding feature contributed to the success of the Gala, which raised more than $220,000 in total for Lutheran SeniorLife’s Benevolent Care Fund. This fund provides services to program participants and residents who have outlived their financial resources. Fenoglietto noted that more than $2 million has been raised for the fund through the Gala during the event’s 15-year history.

Click here to view photos from the evening on our Facebook page. If you would like to contribute towards the Benevolent Care Fund, please call the Foundation at (724) 453-6014, or click here to make a secure online donation.