Devoted to community

May 29, 2003

It's a love fest, not merely a fashion show. The Sisters of the

Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart presented the 25th anniversary

celebration of "Gentlemen's Haberdashery" at the Hyatt Regency,


A sold-out ballroom led by honorary co-chairs and longtime

supporters Tony and Melinda Moiso brought in heavyweight community

support for the sisters and their Heart of Jesus Retreat Center in


Santa Ana.

The center, which a project near and dear to the heart of

Newport's late Gen. Tom Riley and his wife, Emma Jane, serves

children and teens in Orange County.

The sisters' mission is to bring children closer to a spiritual

awakening, infusing a moral compass in the face of secular abuse all

around us. The goal is not political. Rather, in the arena of a world

torn apart by politics, power and influence, the center is meant as a

refuge, specifically for children, who may need a peaceful experience

more than adults.

Inasmuch as the home may not offer the security for children that

it perhaps once did, the sisters want children to know that love

exists in the world. The mission is tied to the theology of the Roman

Catholic Church, and because of this, there may be voices of


The crowd attending the fund-raiser was ecumenical gathering of

community leaders and role models, including Catholics, Protestants

and Jews.

The adults were touched by the presence of children who had come

to sing and distribute hand-made cards expressing appreciation for

the sisters' work.

The Moiso family was joined by a host committee that included

Leann Berry, David Celestin, Keith Eyrich, Richard Hunsaker, Emmy Lou

Jolly-Vann, Nicole Lawson, Kitty Leslie, Jim McNamara, Robert O'Hill,

Robin Merchant, James Phillips and Nathan Rosenberg.

The theme of the event was "25 Years of Grateful Love." For the

seventh year in a row more than $230,000 was raised.

After a group prayer from the words of St. Francis of Assisi,

luncheon was served, and comic Steve Ireland joined Melanie Salata

Fitch at the fashion show podium as emcees of the presentation.

Ireland is a brilliant wit, capable of poking fun at everything

and everyone. He has the timing of a latter-day Bob Hope and the

contemporary view of Jerry Seinfeld.

"They told me I could be edgy," he repeated after lines that cut

to the chase on many contemporary issues, including some directly

addressing the Catholic Church.

As the male models paraded the hotel runway, including Antonio

Cagnolo, Gilbert Aguirre, Richard Reisman, Richard O'Neill, Robert

Bein, Michael Brandman, Jason Brandman, Patrick Wayne, Father Steve

Sallot and Monsignor Paul Martin, the crowd applauded with gusto for

the community support and the message of goodwill.

Others on the runway were Newport's Buck Bean, Denny Bean, Ryan

Bean, Donald Kennedy, Parker Kennedy, Marc Lamkin, Tim Strader, Peter

Ochs, George O'Connell and Paul Salata.

Tony Moiso made a point of paying tribute to late community

leaders Tom and Emma Jane Riley, Sister Ida Peterfy, who launched the

program, and the late Bjorn Sedlenich, formerly with P.O.S.H. Fashion

Island. Sedlenich had been a mainstay of the men's fashion event for

many years.

Sadly, Beverly Salata was not in attendance this year, joining

husband Paul and daughter Melanie in working for the cause. Beverly

was ill for the show and passed away last week from cancer. The

devoted wife, mother and community activist had a heart as big as the

retreat center she supported with her loved ones.

* THE CROWD appears Thursdays and Saturdays.

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