Kathleen Donahue

Taking up the charge

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

To read this column in Spanish, click here.

It is quite an honor to communicate with you in this space that my dear friend, former boss and trusted mentor Msgr. Mike Boland has occupied for so many years.

Like nearly everything Msgr. Boland did while he was president, administrator and CEO of Catholic Charities, this column was created for the good of the poor and vulnerable in our midst. He started the column in 1995 as a way to help readers understand the many challenges of poverty and how we can work together to fulfill the Gospel mission to help our neighbor.

Now, the column, like so many of Msgr. Boland’s contributions, will continue on as a part of his legacy to Catholic Charities and all those we serve. 

While a national search is conducted for a new leader, I have the privilege to serve as the acting president, administrator and CEO of Catholic Charities. This position is truly an honor for me personally because Catholic Charities has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. 

Growing up, my brother received services here, my family volunteered here and I got my first job here — it was supposed to be a time-limited project, but I never wanted to leave. Being involved with Catholic Charities inspired my career choice as a licensed clinical social worker and has profoundly impacted my life. 

To be sure, Catholic Charities is a very special place. You can feel God at work here.

It is hard to believe that I have now been with the agency for 40 years. I have served in a variety of direct-service and managerial capacities, most recently as senior vice president for program development and evaluation. I feel blessed to have worked alongside Msgr. Boland for 30 of those 40 years. I could not have asked for a better mentor or friend to show me the way. 

Although it is time for Msgr. Boland to transition to the next phase of his priestly ministry, he does so having capably prepared Catholic Charities to take on its second century of service to the community.

Catholic Charities has been blessed with a long line of visionary leaders during its 100-year history, and Msgr. Boland is no exception. As a priest, trained professional social worker and businessman, he brought a unique mix of skills that will benefit Catholic Charities for decades to come.

His astute organizational skills have made their permanent mark on Catholic Charities, giving us a strong leadership team, an incredibly dedicated and talented board of advisors and solid management infrastructure. Msgr. Boland skillfully guided the agency through difficult economic times, all the while growing services and ensuring that Catholic Charities is present to the people and places who need us most. 

But although Msgr. Boland shared his many professional talents in his years as the leader of Catholic Charities, his greatest legacy is perhaps the very simple way he has been a daily example of Jesus’ humble service to those in need. Every decision he has made, no matter what external pressures came to bear, has been rooted in the Gospel mission to love God and our neighbor passionately. 

We have watched him walk, talk and breathe this mission every day, continually reminding us that it is our privilege to care for one another, friend and stranger alike, and to do it with the utmost skill and compassion. 

Msgr. Boland has been a great teacher — for me, for my colleagues and for our board members, volunteers and donors. Now it is time for us to take up the charge, staying rooted in our 100-year tradition and sowing the seeds for hope and help to forever flourish in this remarkable agency where God works miracles every day. 


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