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The Leo House: A Beacon of Welcome on the New York Skyline

By Jennifer Lindberg

Hospitality, joy, and goodwill have been synonymous with the Leo House for 130 years. This milestone year for one of the best guest houses in New York City–that is known for welcoming the stranger — is going to celebrate.

“We tell the staff to put themselves in the place of the traveler,” said Ashley Bryant, Acting Executive Director of the Leo House. “It’s the art of the welcome and people naturally feel that when they walk through these doors.”

Leo House is opening its doors wide in generous embrace to honor those who exemplify the teachings of the Catholic Church or live the word of God at its third Pope Leo XIII Award Fundraising Dinner Gala on Dec. 9.  The premiere award, the Pope Leo XIII Award, will go to the first woman to kiss Elvis Presley on the silver screen, Benedictine Mother Dolores Hart, of the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut. Mother Dolores left a multi-million-dollar movie contract to become a nun. Other award recipients are the founder of CRUX Catholic Media and Vatican journalist, John Allen, Jr., for distinguished layperson recognition with the St. Raphael Society Award. Patricia Scanlon, of the Catholic New York newspaper, will become the second recipient of the Mission Partner Award honoring exemplary business service to The Leo House.

While the Gala raises money for the Leo House, whose 92-year old historic building requires constant upkeep, it’s also about commemorating its legacy of helping the traveler, whether they are Catholic or not, said Bryant.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta stayed here in 1960, first-responders from the devasting Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, were housed for free, care-givers of sick loved ones at area hospitals find rest, and many travelers know the Leo House is the place to stay in New York’s vibrant and safe Chelsea neighborhood.

This landmark of hospitality—it predates Ellis Island and is only a few years younger than the Statue of Liberty, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the famed Chelsea Hotel—will celebrate living the three C’s that launched its mission and continues to sustain it:  Catholic, Clean, Cost-Effective, and Comfortable. For Catholics there is daily Mass and the rosary. For non-Catholics there is service and abiding care.

“People say they feel the peace here,” Bryant said. “We want this to be their home away from home.”

The Leo House’s Gala will be held at The Yale Club in midtown Manhattan (50 Vanderbilt Avenue) on Monday, December 9, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. For further information on The Leo House and/or the Pope Leo XIII Award Gala, please contact Ashley Bryant, Acting Executive Director (212-929-1010, Ext. 222 or ab@332west23nyc.org) or visit the Leo House website here.

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