Friends of Caritas Cubana board member John Hickey joins residents for a game of dominoes at the Casa de Abuelos senior program at La Merced Church in Havana. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
HAVANA -- Observers have long noted the myriad of blessings that have sprung following Pope John Paul II's historic visit to Cuba in 1998. In the wake of that historic papal visit, Catholicism was allowed to be practiced openly and Christmas was observed for the first time in almost 40 years.
One of the lesser known fruits of the 1998 papal visit is Friends of Caritas Cubana, a Boston-based organization that collects funds and materials to further the work done by the Church's aid organization in Cuba, Caritas Cubana.
Friends of Caritas Cubana is the brainchild of Micho Spring, a Cuban-American who emigrated from Havana in 1960.
Spring was one of 200 Boston-area Catholics who travelled to Havana to witness Pope John Paul II's historic Mass in Havana's Revolution Square.
"Being there at the Mass, I knew I had to do something," Spring said.
Back in Boston, she set to work. By 1999, Friends of Caritas Cubana had begun to take shape. Its mission: to raise money to "support Cardinal [Jaime] Ortega's efforts," she said.
Originally, Friends of Caritas Cubana was a committee of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston. After six years, in 2005, they became a separately incorporated entity, and remains so today.