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Friday, May 31, 2024

Catholic Charities Boston Honors Cardinal Seán O’Malley with John and Virginia Kaneb Justice and Compassion Award at 2024 Spring Celebration

The Boston Harbor Hotel Wharf Room was standing room only on May 29 as over 350 guests gathered in honor of Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley and Catholic Charities Boston’s 2024 Spring Celebration Gala, which raised nearly $1.5 million in support of the organization’s most vulnerable clients.

Jack Connors Jr., longtime Boston philanthropist and founding partner of Hill Holiday, and Father John Unni, Pastor of Saint Cecilia Parish, served as emcees for the evening.

Other guests included Peter Lynch, President of the Lynch Foundation and Former Manager of Fidelity’s Magellan Fund, Bill Mosakowski, CEO of Public Consulting Group, Maureen Bleday, CEO of the Yawkey Foundation, Kerry Alys Robinson, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, Vincent Rougeau, President of the College of the Holy Cross, and the Kaneb family, namesakes of the John and Virginia Kaneb Justice and Compassion Award.

Setting the atmosphere for the evening was Ukrainian pianist Ruslan Ramazanov, who played the piano as guests were arriving. Having fled the war in Ukraine with his wife and children and moved to Boston, Ruslan became connected to Catholic Charities Welcome Circles, a program that coordinates community groups including parishes, synagogues, and others to support families like Ruslan’s to build a new life in America.

Governor Maura Healey provided opening remarks, thanking Cardinal O’Malley and Catholic Charities for being vital partners in meeting the issues of the day, from addressing the statewide housing shortage to alleviating food insecurity to creating new pathways to success for those most in need.

“In these times of challenge and in these times of hardship, there are also times, always, of opportunity and of optimism with people of good will working together. Catholic Charities represents the very best of that,” said Governor Healey.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley received this year’s John and Virginia Kaneb Justice and Compassion Award in recognition of his remarkable leadership and impact over his twenty years serving as Archbishop of Boston. Chair of the Board for Catholic Charities, Mark B. Kerwin, presented a custom award created by Nancy Schon, creator of the famous “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture in the Boston Public Garden.

Cardinal O’Malley spoke about the church’s call to serve those living on the margins and commended Catholic Charities Boston for continually modeling Catholic social teachings by meeting all those in need with the utmost compassion, dignity, and respect.

“Our church exists to make God’s mercy more visible and more present,” said Cardinal O’Malley. “When you look at how Jesus managed his time, his priority was always taking care of others – taking care of the sick, taking care of the hungry, the works of mercy – and we as his followers are called to do the same. Catholic Charities is the manifestation of that.”

Addressing gala attendees for the first time as President and CEO, Kelley Tuthill highlighted the strides the Agency has made in addressing key issues of the day, including food insecurity, homelessness, navigating complex asylum and work authorization paperwork for refugees and immigrants, as well as increasing access to affordable childcare, English Language classes, and job training. She spoke about the unprecedented challenges facing many families in the state regarding a shortage of shelters and described the stunning scene at Terminal E at Logan Airport, noting more than 120 people are sleeping at the airport, including 25 small children.

“As a mother of three, that is heartbreaking to witness,” Kelley said. “I am most proud of that fact that in our care, 11 women brought home newborns to our newest shelters, ensuring that baby Christopher would have food, Keila had diapers, and Gabriella has a safe place to sleep.”

Watch: Honoree video
View: Photo highlights

About Spring Celebration
Catholic Charities Spring Celebration is presented by United Way, the Cummings Foundation, and Al and Diane Kaneb, and raises crucial funds to support programs within the Agency’s core services areas of Basic Needs, Family & Youth Services, Refugee & Immigrant Services, and Adult Education & Workforce Development. We are grateful to all our event sponsors, partners, donors, and friends for the ongoing support and generosity of the Agency’s work serving those in need.

To make a gift or view a list of all sponsors, visit our Spring Celebration page here.

About the John and Virginia Justice and Compassion Award
The award is Catholic Charities’ highest recognition and was named in honor of the late John Kaneb, beloved former Catholic Charities Boston Board member who assisted the organization until his death in August 2021, and his wife, Virginia, to commemorate their decades of generous support of the Agency. The annual award serves as an opportunity to highlight individuals who exemplify Catholic Charities’ values of charity, compassion, and service.

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