Two years ago, I made a post on this blog about the various groups across the country that would gather to host card parties and fashion shows to help raise funds for the Maryknoll Sisters. When it came time to come up with a post for this month, I had remembered this earlier entry and wondered how the Society was fundraising and promotting Maryknoll in the United States. So I started to look into the records of the various development houses across the country and made some interesting finds.
First I found a letter written by Fr. Francis Caffrey to the Superior General, James Anthony Walsh. Fr. Caffrey was stationed in Los Angeles, CA doing promotion work. The letter, dated June 5, 1928 talks about a card party that was held for local ladies:
Party of appreciation – Thirty five of the leading ladies of our Biltmore party gathered at the Sisters yesterday. Bridge was played for two hours, a tea party followed. Tea was served by ten of our school girls dressed in Japanese costumes. The prizes for the ladies were one copy of “Observations,” one copy of “Bluegowns,” and some beautiful flowers donated by a friend. The food supply and silver service were brought by the ladies. A guild is formed. Self-sacrifice offering to be made monthly. Parties to be given…The ladies met the Sisters and all left the party pleased at being remembered and assuring us of genuine interest in Maryknoll.
The next thing I found was a very early entry mentioning what would be come to be known as sponsor cards. The idea would be that Maryknollers would hand them out to interested people, who would in turn mail the card to Maryknoll providing their contact information and hopefully a donation.
The letter I found was written by Fr. James Keller, dated February 21, 1927, writing from “Aboard the Santa Fe on my way from Denver”[.]
The past week has been about one of the busiest for me yet, – tho it really was one of great interest. I succeeded in speaking to practically every school in Denver, as well as those previously in San Diego and Flagstaff. The contact, I feel, will have results. At every place I spoke, I gave little cards to each, with the invitation to all to take a few extra for friends or enemies. I started with about 11,000 and have 300 left.
The last items I came across were invitations and programs from Maryknoll brunches that were held in Chicago, Illinois in the 1960s and 1970s. The brunches were held at The Drake hotel and included a reception, dancing, and raffles. Prizes were a mix of items from the various mission regions – an alligator hand bag from Bolivia, bookends from Africa, a cassette stereo from Hong Kong – and tickets could be purchased for $1.00 each.
The brunches were a fundraising venture, and in some years monies raised went to a specific project. For example, in 1976 the brunch was to benefit the Villa El Carmen Technical School in La Paz, Bolivia.
Below, please enjoy a sample of the invitation and program from two brunches held in Chicago.