CCUSA hosts blessing and dedication for new sculpture

August 9, 2023
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington blesses the sculpture "Hold It Together," by Christian sculptor Timothy Schmalz. The bronze sculpture depicts Jesus hugging a homeless man, who sits cross-legged on the ground, a hoodie obscuring his face, a cup in his hand for donations.

Alexandria, Va. – On August 9, Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) hosted a public blessing and dedication of “Hold It Together,” the newest work by Christian sculptor Timothy Schmalz. The bronze sculpture depicts Jesus’ loving embrace of a person experiencing homelessness.  

CCUSA President and CEO Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, explained that Schmalz offered to create an original sculpture for Catholic Charities during CCUSA’s Annual Gathering last September. The renowned artist spoke at the conference and, as awed spectators looked on, created the prototype for the new sculpture in two days. Eleven months later, the finished work stands outside CCUSA’s headquarters in Alexandria, Va. 

“We know that this is a really rough time in our world and certainly a rough time for people who are suffering and poor or disenfranchised — people who really need to have somebody hold the pain with them, which is exactly what we do at Catholic Charities. And we do that work because of our commitment to the suffering Christ, who holds all of us together,” Sister Donna said. “So, it’s with that intention that we gather to bless this beautiful piece of art hoping that it will be more than a piece of art. It will be a reminder to anybody who walks by to know that there are so many people who need us to support them, care for them and love them.”  

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington spoke after Sister Donna, who will retire later this summer, and thanked the longtime CCUSA president and CEO for her years of service to the church. He then led the crowd in prayer and blessed the sculpture.    

“Let us now pray for the Lord’s richest blessings on all those who serve in Catholic Charities and upon all those they serve,” Bishop Burbidge prayed. “May we honor this image of the Lord, who loves the poor and embraces them in their every need.” 

Schmalz’s sculptures can be found across the world, including at the Vatican. His 2019 “Angels Unawares” sculpture marked the first time in four centuries — since the Baroque work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini — that St. Peter’s Square gained a new piece of art. 

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