During their fifth annual gala on Oct. 4, the Catholic Business Network of Washington, D.C. honored Daughter of Charity Sister Mary Bader with their Religious of the Year Award and also honored Bill and Mary Noel Page as Catholic Business Persons of the Year.

Sister Mary Bader is the CEO of St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families in Hyattsville, which provides supportive residential services for homeless mothers and their children, as well as for pregnant and parenting teens. Prior to her role there, she taught in Catholic grade schools in rural West Virginia, Richmond and Baltimore, and at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Washington. She also served as principal of Mother Seton Academy in Baltimore, which is a tuition-free middle school for boys and girls.

Sister Bader attended Little Flower School in Bethesda, where she was taught by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, where she was taught by the Sisters of the Visitation. At the gala, she joked about how she decided to join a different order than any of her educators.

The charism of the Daughters of Charity, the religious order she did ultimately join, is serving those who are underserved, which Sister Bader said she likes to think about as “building the kingdom.” She took the opportunity of receiving the award to tell all those gathered, “You are also the builders.”

Quoting Pope Francis, she said, “Goodness always seems to spread.”

“When you volunteer or say a kind word…that is something that continues to spread and spread,” she said, thanking everyone there for supporting Catholic education.

Bill and Mary Noel Page, the Catholic Business Persons of the Year, have been married for 49 years and have four children and nine grandchildren. They were recognized at the gala for their generous philanthropy and their roles in the Order of Malta’s annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, France for the sick and disabled, for which Mary Noel served as a coordinator for many years. Bill Page is the president and CEO of Bill Page Honda in Falls Church and is a graduate of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington.

As the Pages accepted their award, Bill said he wanted to “give great gratitude to my father,” who started the foundation that made their philanthropy possible. The couple made a $50,000 donation to the Catholic Business Network that evening in his name, which was later matched and then exceeded by the gala’s attendees.

The money raised by the network goes toward scholarships for students from underserved communities to attend local Catholic schools. After this year’s gala, the network has raised $500,000 dollars to support Catholic education since its start.

During the gala, Keron Campbell, a student at Archbishop Carroll High School who was recently elected as D.C. Youth Mayor, spoke about his experience at the school, noting the rigorous academic environment, the friends he has made, and the community where he can express his faith as some of the things that he loves about it.

“Carroll has been that base I can fall on when things go wrong,” he said. “…Carroll is this place where no matter who you are or where you come from, you can come and get a well-rounded education.”

Campbell also noted the school’s small class sizes and the ability to have a one-on-one conversation with a teacher as important elements of his education at Carroll.

“My school has given me the opportunity to do great things,” he said, adding that the best thing about the school is that “the source of its identity is Catholic above all…it was built and founded on the structure of being like Christ.” Archbishop Carroll was founded in 1951 as one of the first integrated high schools in Washington.

Campbell transferred to Archbishop Carroll in the 10th grade, and said it is “the best decision I ever made.” At Carroll, Campbell said he is not identified by numbers on a student ID, but rather by his name, and is a part of a community where he can “learn, grow, and be myself.”

“I’m a firm believer that education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world,” said Campbell.