by Marge Cashin
The St. John’s University association held its inaugural: Ladies of Charity Present: An Evening of Hope in March. There were a few goals for the evening: heighten the association’s profile on campus, honor a worthy individual, and raise some money for project support.
At the beginning of the formal program President-elect Mary Ellen Freeley narrated a slide presentation highlighting the goals and projects of the association. The focus of the event was the presentation of the St. Louise de Marillac Spes Unica Award, developed by the association, to honor a person who improves the lives of others through service. The phrase ”spes unica,” inscribed on the cross at the original grave of St. Louise, is literally translated “one hope” or “only hope.” Service to humanity through good planning, programming and collaboration is the “one hope” to alleviate the burdens of living in poverty. The award will honor people who are committed to improving the situation of persons in need.
Mary B. Mulvihill, Ed.D. was the first recipient. After working at Fordham and St. John’s Universities as a dean, she became the executive director of Grace Institute in Manhattan, where her dynamic leadership led to program development that enabled hundreds of young women (and in turn their families) to rise from poverty through education and meaningful employment. Currently the executive director at Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center also in New York City, Dr. Mulvihill, a devoted educator, has used her talents of collaboration and management to oversee the emerging needs of the 1900 residents of the public housing complex by delivering services to groups from preschool children to the elderly. The honoree addressed the gathering following the presentation, challenging everyone to search deep in their minds, bodies and spirits and make a commitment to the poor, to keep their needs a priority both in action and prayer.
The event was also developed as a fundraiser and members and vendors generously donated many wonderful prizes for a silent auction and raffle. The prize tables were overseen by five of the Junior Ladies of Charity from St. John’s Preparatory High School. The young women were energetic and engaging as they presented the winners with their treasures. The association was proud and grateful to have their assistance.
The evening was deemed a success due to the considerable combined efforts of association members. Everyone is looking ahead to next year’s Evening of Hope.