Celebrating spring

As I write this, I am finding that these persistent days of rain and temperatures in the 40’s make it hard to believe that spring has officially arrived. It tries the will too much. After such a dark winter -- both meteorologically and economically -- it seems particularly unfair somehow for the sun to withhold its graces still longer.

The daffodil buds in my garden tell me that spring is, indeed, here though. The calendar tells me the same thing, because each spring, Catholic Charities holds a series of events to support our work and the clients we serve. The first is on April 30, when our Laboure Center will have its Spring Auction in South Boston. Catholic Charities North will follow on May 14 with its Isle of Dreams Gala in Salem. The Haitian Multi-Service Center comes next, celebrating its 30th anniversary on May 16 in Boston. Catholic Charities South will have its annual Springfest on June 3 in Brockton, and the Merrimack Valley will have its Spring Gala the same night.

Amidst all that important reverie, we will hold the largest of our events: our annual, diocesan-wide Spring Celebration at the JFK Library. The Celebration, which has its roots in the Cardinal’s Garden Party of years past, will be held on Thursday, May 21.

As we do each year, during the evening we present our Justice and Compassion Award. The award recognizes someone who embodies the values of charity, compassion and service to those in need, and who demonstrates a shared commitment to our mission, “building a just and compassionate society rooted in the dignity of all people.”

This year, we are particularly fortunate to be able to honor noted businessman and philanthropist, A. Raymond Tye.

I think we’re fortunate for two reasons. First, Mr. Tye, who is the president of The Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation and Chairman Emeritus of United Liquors, Ltd., truly personifies what we seek to honor. He has built a philanthropic legacy of caring and supporting the poor, vulnerable and marginalized that is to be admired and celebrated, especially as we seek a springtime of hope.

We also are fortunate to honor Mr. Tye because by accepting the award, Mr. Tye is helping us at Catholic Charities begin to publicly and enthusiastically renew the ties between the Catholic and Jewish social justice communities in Boston. Our two faith traditions share an important legacy of belief in and dedication to service to the poor and marginalized.

The Boston-area has a rich history of strong Catholic-Jewish relations, and our two communities have much to offer during this time of need, and much we can do together. The cardinal has demonstrated his own commitment to this renewal in taking steps such as last month’s rededication of the archdiocese’s Holocaust Memorial Menorah at the Pastoral Center. A host of leaders from the Jewish community attended that event.

I believe fighting poverty is inherently an act of faith. It is also the calling of faith communities, Catholic and Jewish alike. As we wait anxiously for spring to truly arrive, it is a pleasure and a privilege to honor Mr. Tye and celebrate service to the poor together in one special night. It is also a joy to hold up the work of our regions, and to show appreciation to the communities that support those regions, in the other events happening this spring. If you would like to be a part of any of those events, please either go to our web site at www.ccab.org, or contact Kathrine Hastings at 617-451-7952.

Finally, no discussion of rites of spring would be complete if I failed to mention the seven brave souls who will run on behalf of Catholic Charities in Monday’s Boston Marathon. I am profoundly grateful to them, and impressed by the way they truly walk the walk -- or, in this case, run the run. Godspeed to them. May they feel the full force of our gratitude on Heartbreak Hill, and as they traverse those final miles to the finish line.

Tiziana C. Dearing is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.