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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Catholic Charities Honors Afghan Resettlement Volunteers at Spring Celebration

Over 30 Multi-Faith Community Sites Recognized with Newly Renamed John and Virginia Kaneb Justice and Compassion Award

BOSTON – Hundreds of guests gathered to honor the volunteers who helped resettle nearly 160 Afghan evacuees to the Greater Boston area at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum during Catholic Charities’ Spring Celebration gala on May 19, 2022.

Thirty-one community sites made up of volunteers from parishes, churches, synagogues, schools, and local communities from Cape Cod to Cape Ann were honored with the John and Virginia Kaneb Justice and Compassion Award for their role in securing housing and transportation and providing basic necessities for Afghan evacuees. This massive effort was in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council and with generous funding from Combined Jewish Philanthropies and many other donors.

During his remarks, Cardinal Séan Patrick O’Malley noted, “It is a great comfort and consolation to see how people of different faiths have come together to bring healing into the world.”

Deacon Tim Donohue from the Holy Name Parish Border Group, Jenny Berz from the Newton-Brookline Asylum Resettlement Coalition, John Schuhardt from the House of Peace with Ipswich Refugees Program and Aviva Jezer from Temple Aliyah, accepted the award on behalf of all the community sites.

“Once again, a refugee crisis brought these organizations together to ensure that Afghans would be welcomed to new homes and new friends in America,” said Father John Unni, pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Boston, who co-hosted the event along with Catholic Charities Chief Operating Officer Kelley Tuthill.

Since 2007, Spring Celebration has raised funds for the Agency’s areas of greatest need and served as an opportunity to bestow an award to those who have continually modeled Catholic Charities’ values of justice and compassion. The award is Catholic Charities’ highest recognition and was renamed this year in honor of beloved former Catholic Charities board member John Kaneb, and his wife, Virginia, to commemorate their generous support of the organization.

“John and Virgina Kaneb have been longtime champions of Catholic Charities,” said Father Bryan J. Hehir, Secretary for Health and Social Services for the Archdiocese of Boston. “They set the example for lived faith and compassion.”

President and CEO Kevin M. MacKenzie expressed gratitude for the donors and volunteers who stepped up to assist in meeting the growing needs for services within our communities.

“So many of you did not wait to be asked,” said MacKenzie. “You came to us with two simple yet powerful questions, ‘How can I help?’ and ‘What do you need?’ Your support enables Catholic Charities to serve as a lifeline to thousands of people who seek our help every day, and for that we say thank you.”

Cardinal O’Malley also paid tribute to former Catholic Charities President and CEO Debbie Rambo, who retired in 2019 after more than a 40-year career with the Agency.

Proceeds from Spring Celebration directly support Catholic Charities clients most in need. To learn more about the event or to make a gift please visit

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About Catholic Charities of Boston
As one of Massachusetts’s largest social service organizations, Catholic Charities of Boston serves our most vulnerable neighbors each year, regardless of religion, race, gender, age, disability, or ethnicity. Catholic Charities has five hub locations in Dorchester, Lynn, Brockton, Lowell, and South Boston, with 23 program locations supporting families across Eastern Massachusetts. The agency’s four core services assist clients with Basic Needs, Family & Youth Services, Adult Education & Workforce Development, and Refugee & Immigrant Services. We help our clients move from crisis to stability to self-sufficiency.

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