On behalf of the Board of Directors of Salt + Light, I extend to you my most heartfelt welcome and thanks for supporting this event. The moment I was approached about the possibility of the Dead Sea Scrolls coming to the ROM, I began thinking about combining this extraordinary exhibition with an evening in celebration of Salt + Light. This fundraising gala is only the second-ever for Salt + Light.
This evening you have had a rare opportunity to see and hear about the scrolls from the experts. The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient texts that form a profoundly rich library of fragments, pieced together by countless scholars with the most careful attention. What they contain is simply astounding, bibilical books, hymns, prayers and other important writings, many of which were scripted more than 2,000 years ago. What many believe to be the greatest archaeological treasure ever found. I could not think of a better backdrop for Salt + Light.
You see, many of us, starting with my father Gaetano Gagliano, the founder of Salt + Light, view Salt + Light as a treasure in its own right and we believe one day, the world will come to uncover it.
Salt + Light was founded by Gaetano Gagliano six years ago as a charitable organization that is dedicated through modern media to creating positive stories and presenting real life examples of hope and charity that help bring people closer to their faith.
Today at the age of 92, my father describes Salt + Light as the most important work of his life - and believe me when I say - that says something.
Now we need to stop here for a minute and do some math. Since my father is 92 years old, it means he founded Salt + Light at age of 86.
Most people start thinking about slowing down in the their mid sixties but this man at age 86 starts a very, ambitious initiative to launch an international broadcast centre that would create television programs, documentaries and movies that tell inspiring stories in collaboration with the Vatican and share them with people all over the world.
Now you may also be wondering what could have prepared him for creating Salt + Light. You see, neither my father nor anyone in our family had experience in creating television programs or documentaries or films.
Now for those of you who do not know my father you should know that although he may not have any experience in broadcasting, he does have experience in serving his God and his fellow man. He strongly believes with conviction that we are all given a gift of life by our God and that we are also given the opportunity to serve our God and our fellow man with that gift. He has chosen that path.
My father is also one of the most determined men on the face of this earth. His strength of character, courage, deep faith, and passion are a combination that is unrivalled.
He brought all those attributes and more to launching Salt + Light. Only six years after creating Salt + Light, it is already viewed by millions of people in Canada and its documentaries and films have been viewed around the world in dozens of countries in many languages.
Believe me, I have no doubt that one day soon, hundreds of millions of people around the globe will come to discover the important work that Salt + Light is doing in promoting interfaith dialogue and trying to make this world a more peaceful and positive place for all of us.
I have told you a little bit about my father these last few minutes, the patriarch of Salt + Light but you should also know a little about my mother Giuseppina, the matriarch.
Giuseppina has been married to Gaetano for 64 years. She is the mother of 10 children, grandmother and great grandmother of another 44 children and she treats all of us like we are the only person in her life. I’m sure you have heard the old adage that behind every great man stands a great woman, well it is not true in this case. In this case, it is beside every great man there is an even greater woman. My parents have been partners in life and equal partners in everything that they do.
My parents taught us a long time ago, it is not what you don’t do that is important in life. It is not enough not to do anything wrong or not to break any law or any of the commandments. It’s what you do that is important! Now they are teaching us another lesson. It’s never too late to chase your dreams. You can accomplish anything, maybe even the most important work in your life. Even if you begin that work in your late 80’s.
Salt + Light is fortunate to have as its patriarch and matriarch Gaetano and Giuseppina Gagliano and we are fortunate tonight in this historical setting to have our patriarch and matriarch with us. Please join me in a round of applause as I ask them to stand and be acknowledged.
My final comments this evening are reserved for the Salt + Light board of Directors and our CEO. I want to thank all the members of our board. They are: Brian Chapman, John Foresi, John Gagliano, Anthony Longo, Warren Spitz and Dean Topolinski. I could not think of a finer group of people to support Salt + Light through the very challenging early days. They have each dedicated themselves to raising a minimum of one million dollars for Salt + Light between their own contributions and funds they will raise. And I want to thank them for their leadership.
Finally, Father Thomas Rosica our CEO. Whether it is in front of the camera or behind the camera Salt + Light has been led by one of the finest people I have had the privilege of knowing. Competent, caring, with incredible integrity & principle. Mere words that can only begin to describe Father Tom and his value to Salt + Light. I want to thank him for being such a good Shepherd to Salt + Light from the earliest days.
Thank you all of you for being here this evening. Your support of Salt + Light means the world to us and we hope one day soon will mean the world to people everywhere as they come to uncover the treasure.