Addressing women of the Christ Child Society of Washington, D.C. at their annual Red Wagon Luncheon fundraiser on Oct. 10 at the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory encouraged the group to continue sharing the faith with their children and grandchildren. 

“You must continue to guide your children and grandchildren into a deep love and respect for their Catholic heritage and, equally important, continue to demand that your young people reverence the religious, racial and ethnic heritage of all other people as well,” Archbishop Gregory said. 

The Red Wagon Luncheon helps support the programs of the Christ Child Society's D.C. chapter, which is the founding chapter of the National Christ Child Society, serving thousands of children and families each year in the Washington area. Their programs range from providing kits to newborn infants, offering counseling for students, and working to encourage hundreds of girls through their Girls on the Rise program. With nearly 500 women as members of the Christ Child Society's D.C. chapter, they also run a consignment shop in Georgetown where proceeds benefit the chapter’s programs.

Archbishop Gregory shared with the women attending the luncheon stories of the two women that shaped his life, namely his mother and grandmother, whose faith, he said, was an inspiration to him. 

“I find it difficult to think of any women who have not been, at some point, unquestionable models of faith,” he said. 

Even Jesus learned about his Jewish faith from his mother, the archbishop said. 

“Women in the Church and specifically women in my own life have always been positive models of faith. Women usually lay the foundation of faith in all of our lives,” he said. “They teach us to pray, they teach us the virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, generosity, perseverance and hope. … Women often lay the foundation for the religious life, for the religious faith in our society. You are following a long tradition that was surely present in the life of the young Jesus as He no doubt learned about His own Jewish heritage from Mary, in His home at Nazareth.”

Archbishop Gregory also urged the women present to reflect on their role in society, and the gift they are to society. 

“The roles that women play are not limited to those we might personally recall from our childhood,” the archbishop said. “Women remain the voices of moderation and civility that keep our societies from being even more violent than they already are. You perform those humanizing works that improve all nations and give us the right to refer to ourselves as civilized.”

Egypt Hall, a recent high school graduate who has been a part of the Girls on the Rise program through the Christ Child Society's D.C. chapter, shared the influence that the program had on her life throughout the past few years. 

“Through Girls on the Rise, I was able to gain work experience and I was selected as a summer youth employee,” Hall said. “Girls on the Rise has taught me the importance of a strong work ethic, such as coming to work on time and how to properly communicate with colleagues and supervisors and complete my duties in a timely fashion.”

With the support of Girls on the Rise and Christ Child Society, Hall said she was able to pay her senior dues on time and graduate this past June. 

“Christ Child will always be one of my biggest cheerleaders as I continue this journey, thank you,” she said. 

Stephanie Farrell, board president of Christ Child Society's D.C. chapter, shared the story of the red wagon and the society’s founder, Mary Virginia Merrick, who, during Christmas in 1884, gifted a red wagon to a young boy in need, with a tag which read, “From the Christ Child.” A cause for sainthood is under consideration for Merrick, a native Washingtonian. 

“The spirit of the red wagon lives on through the many programs the Christ Child Society delivers today,” Farrell said. “Over the years the programs have changed and evolved to meet contemporary needs.”