Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston made history yesterday by appointing Tiziana Dearing as the first woman to ever lead Catholic Charities in Eastern Massachusetts.
The new appointment comes as Fr. J. Bryan Hehir leaves the position so that he can spend more time working as the Secretary for Social Services for the Archdiocese. For the past three years, Fr. Hehir has served as the head of both Catholic Charities and as the Secretary for Social Services.
Father Hehir said that separating the two positions will strengthen the organization and the executive committee of the board has determined that this is the best way to continue the growth of Catholic Charities.
Father Hehir met Dearing when she was a parishioner and he pastor at St. Paul Parish in Cambridge and has worked with her at CRS and at Harvard. She is a talented leader from a solid Catholic family, he said.
“She brings real management and consulting skills,” he added. “We’ll work together on Charities because there are lots of challenges these days.”
Cardinal O’Malley also spoke highly of Dearing saying, “[she] is an outstanding example of lay persons bringing their skills and talents to the work of the Church for the good of all whom we serve and the wider society,” the cardinal added.
Ms. Dearing arrives at her new post well qualified to lead the non-profit organization that served 200,000 people last year. Prior to being named president of Catholic Charities in Eastern Massachusetts, Dearing was the executive director of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University.
Working for a non-profit is something that Dearing has always felt called to. "I've been working with nonprofits and made a very conscious choice that that's where I wanted to spend my life," Dearing said. "That was largely due to feeling called to the social mission of the church. I feel a strong sense of calling to take the job, and I think it's because my call to nonprofits in general came from my faith. It came from being influenced by economic justice for all, and it came from a sense that service needs to be a core part of who you are."
Dearing highlighted the issues that she sees as integral to her new job. “To come to the job I’m going to, you have to be passionate about the poor and the issues that affect them, and I anticipate this job will allow me to continue to be passionate about those issues,” Dearing said yesterday. “Catholic Charities is a solid organization, but there is also a growing need for it.”
With 140 programs and a $38 million budget, the agency served 200,000 people of all faiths last year. But its Natick office, for example, has seen an influx of refugees and immigrants. In Brockton, the agency has a waiting list of nearly 2,000 people who want to learn English.
Dearing also spoke about the adoption service that Catholic Charities used to provide up until last year when the Archdiocese closed it down.
Dearing said she has no plans to revive Catholic Charities’ adoption service, which the agency’s board voted to end last year under pressure from the Archdiocese of Boston to refuse to place children with gay couples.
“Catholic Charities’ policy on gay adoptions is set by the church,” she said.