Vin Scully returns to the mic, this time speaking at O.C. Catholic conference

More than 1,000 executives and followers of the Catholic faith gathered at the 2017 Conference on Business and Ethics in Anaheim on May 12 to discuss service-minded leadership and celebrate those who use business as a force for good.

The 15th annual event, hosted by Orange Catholic Foundation at Hilton Anaheim, featured keynote speeches from Vin Scully, who retired in October after 67 years as voice of the Dodgers, and award-winning actress Patricia Heaton.

The gathering raised $630,872.58, a record for the annual event.

Scully, 89, is widely considered the finest broadcaster in baseball history and was the event’s recipient of the Farmers & Merchants Bank Lifetime Achievement Award. He openly credits the Catholic faith with which he grew up in the Bronx as his life’s anchor.

Scully earned the esteem of various bishops, including Archdiocese of Los Angeles auxiliary bishops Robert Barron and Joseph Brennan, both of whom met with Scully while attending the first “Catholic Night” in Dodger Stadium on Sept. 2.

But an earlier high honor came in 1956 when friends arranged for themselves and Scully to be among 14 guests to meet Pope Pius XII, he told the audience during his acceptance speech.

Scully called his Irish-Catholic mother who told him to remember everything and tell her how it transpired.

He and his friends arrived to the U-shaped room, and the only instruction given was not to speak to His Holiness unless spoken to.

The pope entered and walked to the line of guests, blessing rosaries and speaking in French, Italian and German.

He asked Scully’s friend where he was from, smiled and then approached the sportscaster.

With his knees trembling and his palms wet, Scully and Pope Pius XII looked at each other.

“Are you with them?” the pope asked him.

Scully nodded.

His Holiness moved along.

“How would you like to tell that to your mother?” Scully told a laughing crowd.

“It has been a long and glorious life for me,” Scully said. “Like all of us, we’ve had tragedies to learn by and all the time, thank God, my faith has given me the strength that I needed and I needed it badly many times, but all the while, I was rewarded by doing what I love. God works in mysterious ways.”

Heaton also addressed the faithful. She is best known for playing Debra Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond” from 1996 to 2005 and is currently starring in “The Middle” on ABC. She is widely known for her Catholic faith.

Bishop Kevin Vann also honored two business leaders with the Bishop’s Award for Exemplary Business Integrity.

The awards went to Annette Walker, president of strategy at Providence St. Joseph Health and chief executive of St. Joseph Health, and Christopher Furman, president and CEO of Ventura Foods, a global manufacturer of custom and branded food products based in Brea.

The conference raises funds to provide financial aid for students in the Diocese of Orange who could not afford a Catholic education and has raised funds for tuition assistance grants for Catholic schools throughout Orange County.

kathleen.luppi@latimes.com

Twitter: @KathleenLuppi

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