BOSTON – After countless hours of planning meetings and going over all of the details, the 2018 annual St. Anthony Shrine & Ministry Center Gala, the ministry’s biggest fundraising event of the year, was set to go off without a hitch – or so everyone thought.
The Oct. 25 date was locked in, as was the theme – “honoring women under the patronage of St. Clare of Assisi.” The gala committee named the recipient of the Pope Francis Award – the Honorable Regina L. Quinlan-Doherty (ret.), a former attorney, judge and member of the congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. She graciously accepted this honor, fitting for a dedicated Shrine attendee and a woman whose life reflects the Franciscan values of peace, justice, dignity of persons, and service to others.
Meetings were held and plans were proceeding smoothly until about a week before the scheduled date, when the Shrine became aware that union workers at the Westin Waterfront Hotel and other hotels in Boston had gone on strike. A snap decision was made to move the gala.
Thomas Conway, OFM, the Shrine’s executive director, and the development staff, under the leadership of Maryanne Rooney-Hegan, issued a communication announcing that the venue for the annual fundraising dinner was being changed from the Westin to the Copley Marriott. In the announcement, they explained that the change was “a very deliberate move in support of the union workers who are picketing at the Westin Waterfront.”
The announcement said that when the venue was booked months in advance, there was no way of knowing about the pending labor dispute.
“Perhaps in some way, this might be a teachable moment about the Catholic Church’s long-standing support of workers’ rights, fair wages, and the dignity of workers. We at the Shrine support this particular union action and, as we go forward, will continue to advocate for the dignity of all people, including and especially workers,” the announcement said.
Many supportive comments were received when the decision was made public. All seemed to agree it was the only decision that, we, as a Franciscan community, could make. The Development Office staff and the gala committee immediately went to work, since, with the change of venue, many details needed addressing.
“The gala was a beautiful celebration,” said Ronald Stark, OFM, who has lived in Boston since 2010. “We certainly succeeded in fulfilling our theme – the honoring of Regina and all women was very special.”
The anticipation was over as the day of the gala was finally here. After taking initial photographs, some of the friars and staff members were placed at strategic locations to greet guests as they arrived. The Arch Street Band provided music – and with a warm Franciscan welcome, and the united and dedicated effort of so many people, the evening was underway with a cocktail hour filled by moments of greeting old friends and meeting new ones. At 6:30, the doors to the reception were opened and everyone excitedly found their seats.
Gratitude and Generosity
Regina Quinlan-Doherty had made a special pre-gala request – that the Honorable Christopher J. Muse (ret.), a colleague of Regina and a good friend for many years, serve as the evening’s master of ceremonies. The two had served together in the Massachusetts Superior Court.
He began the evening with a wonderful speech, eloquently sharing his gratitude for the evening; for the Franciscan friars, and for the numerous ministries of the Shrine that serve the needs of Bostonians. This same gratitude was repeated by speakers throughout the evening.
You could see – and hear in his voice – Christopher’s joy as he spoke about Regina being the perfect recipient of the Pope Francis Award. He offered, “Regina has dedicated her life to the care and support of the needy, and devoted her energy to promoting a truly just society.”
With the program portion of the evening underway, event co-chairs Joanne Hidaka and Ben Niedermeyer gave the welcome address in which they expressed their gratitude for finding the Shrine, calling it their spiritual home. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., archbishop of Boston, gave the invocation and blessed the meal. He referred to the Shrine as a “gem” in the Archdiocese of Boston.
A delicious meal was then served, during which music played and attention was drawn to large, strategically placed screens displaying a photo slideshow of each friar assigned to the Shrine. Many thanks to John Kendall, the Shrine’s director of social media, for preparing the display.
The speaking part of the evening began after the meal, beginning with Tom Conway – who, under the topic, Caring for All, spoke about the Shrine and introduced two poignant videos depicting its special outreach ministries. Both videos touched everyone as they listened to the first-hand accounts of homeless women and veterans who receive services as part of the Shrine’s outreach ministries. The highlighted ministries were an attestation of the Shrine’s response to serve, and an affirmation of the message of our banners, “All Are Welcome.”
The “Fund-Our-Mission” segment was led by Frank Sevola, OFM, guardian, who invited guests to make donations as particular ministries were depicted and explained. The response was an incredible moment as “generosity” was the only word that could describe the goodness of the attendees and their willingness to support the Shrine so these ministries can continue.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh addressed the gathering in a speech filled with praise for the presence of St. Anthony Shrine & Ministry Center in the city’s Downtown Crossing section. . He spoke of the love his father had for the Shrine and how the people of Boston have been served over the many years of Franciscan presence.
Honoring a Franciscan Heart
Victoria Reggie Kennedy, an accomplished lawyer, non-profit leader and preeminent voice for the empowerment of women and female adolescents, captivated the audience with a speech titled “The Strength of St. Clare.” In her reflection, Victoria, in part, said: “I think we can all agree that St. Francis was blessed in the constant and prayerful support of St. Clare in assisting him with the tremendous task he undertook in interpreting the command he so lovingly heard from the Cross of San Damiano – to serve the poor, the outcast, the marginalized, the lepers of society. Side-by-side the journey began, a journey that lives to this very time in the great works of St. Anthony Shrine & Ministry Center.”
Victoria continued, “Tonight we are here as a Franciscan family to honor a dedicated woman among us. The Honorable Regina Quinlan-Doherty has spent a lifetime listening to her invitation from God and responding with a generous and giving heart. ‘Regina, rebuild my Church, help rebuild my world.’ In her ‘yes’ to this invitation, Regina sought various ways to live her life in dedicated service both to the Church and to the justice system of our country.
“In Regina lives the message of the Gospel, a message of love, service, peace, compassion and justice. As we reflect on the spiritual traits, principles and values of St. Clare, it is easy to see the beautiful parallels to the lifelong journey of our honoree. Regina is a woman of welcome; generous with her gifts; strong in faith; a joyful and humble servant leader. She is a woman of creativity with a Church and world vision, taking her place with a strong and committed faith to make a difference. She is a woman of openness; a woman of peace, simplicity, compassion and humility; a woman of prayer.
“Regina is a witness of the Gospel values lived in service to all women and men. The dreams of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi are lived to this day in the life of Regina Quinlan-Doherty. So it is with great joy, Regina, that we, your Franciscan family, gather to say thank you for helping to rebuild the Church, to enact change in our world. Thank you for a lifetime of dedicated service, for through you, the dreams of St. Francis and St. Clare live on.
“The Pope Francis Award honors the Jesuit pope with a Franciscan heart. This night we honor you and your Franciscan heart and spirit as we bless you with the blessing of St. Clare:
May Almighty God bless you.
May He look upon you with the eyes of His mercy and give you peace.
Here below may He pour forth His graces on you abundantly.
And in heaven may He place you among his saints.
May the Lord be with you always and wherever you are, may you be with Him always.
Although there were many memorable moments during the evening, the highlight came when Regina was presented with the Pope Francis Award. Regina was filled with emotion when she addressed the gathering, speaking of her journey in leaving the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston and wondering where life would take her. She spoke of the many joys during this journey and how she came to make St. Anthony Shrine her spiritual home. Regina said she never would have imagined being on the stage at that moment receiving the Pope Francis Award. The standing ovation said it all – a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman.
To close the festivities Thomas Gallagher, OFM, a member of the Provincial Council, brought good wishes from Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM. He then invited the friars present to join him on the stage – and, together with a joyful Franciscan spirit, the friars sang the Blessing of Saint Francis.
The 2018 St. Anthony Shrine & Ministry Center Gala concluded, but the “celebration” of the Franciscan presence and ministries continue to “Rebuild the Church” in the vision and spirit of Saints Francis and Clare.
“It was a great evening,” said Thomas Donovan, OFM, head sacristan at the Shrine. “For me, the word that describes the celebration is ‘welcome’. It was an evening of Franciscan welcome for all those who believe in us and support our mission.”
— Br. John, stationed for 22 years at St. Anthony Shrine & Ministry Center in Boston, ministers in the Franciscan Center for Spiritual Direction. Last month, he wrote a reflection related to the theme of the 2018 gala. It is titled “A Litany of Women Who Stood Up.”
Editor’s note: A series of articles about the 71-year-old St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center was published by the Boston Herald the week before the gala. Links to the articles can be found on the Shrine’s Facebook page.
- “Shrine’s Franciscan Dinner Raises Close to $700,000” – Oct. 28, 2016, HNP Today
- “Volunteers Lead St. Anthony Shrine Renovation” – Aug. 5, 2015, HNP Today
- “Boston’s Shrine Celebrates 65th Anniversary” – June 20, 2012, HNP Today
- “The Band Plays on at Boston Shrine” – June 29, 2011, HNP Today