Please plan to be at John Hancock Financial’s striking fourth floor atrium (601 Congress St. in South Boston’s Seaport District) on Thursday, April 28, 5 to 8:30 p.m. The occasion: the 34th Laboure Spring Reception. Sr. Maryadele Robinson and her three decades devoted to Laboure will be recognized with the 2016 Jack Shaughnessy Service Award. It’ll be an evening of fun and fellowship.


It was an interview very typical of Sr. Maryadele Robinson, the director of South Boston’s Laboure Center, a service site of Catholic Charities. When asked how she felt about receiving this year’s service award, which is named for philanthropist Jack Shaughnessy, she immediately began to talk about how much Jack had done, both for Laboure and for the whole South Boston community. She concluded her impromptu eulogy about Jack by saying, “There would have been no Laboure Center without him. He stood for integrity, helping others, hard work, his faith, and the power of a person who quietly makes a difference.”

Her comment is quoted here, because it not only shows her innate humility but also accurately describes Sr. Maryadele’s own approach to her life’s work. She smilingly – but somewhat bashfully – admits to a reluctance to talk about herself, even when she is being deservedly recognized for a lifetime filled with accomplishments. As this interviewer listened to what she said, words and phrases such as “energy,” “laughter,” and “a passion to help” kept coming to mind.

Sr. Maryadele has been a religious sister for 54 years, 39 of those years as a devoted and loved member of the Daughters of Charity. Our own Richard Cardinal Cushing renamed the original Columbus Day Nursery started by the Knights of Columbus in 1907 after Saint Catherine Labouré, a Daughter of Charity, who lived in the 1800s, quietly served the sick and elderly, and is known for the Miraculous Medal.

Sr. Maryadele has been the director of the Laboure Center since 1988. Fifteen years ago, in order to care for her widowed elderly mother while remaining in service at Labouré, Sr. Maryadele continued her vowed life within the Archdiocese of Boston by renewing her vows under Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

One can learn many lessons from Sr. Maryadele. To mention just one example, as she approaches her 30th year at Laboure, she has begun to take steps to arrange for an orderly succession. Jake Bombard, a native son of South Boston, brings with him several years of experience in various political positions. He has accepted the job of Laboure’s deputy director. Sr. Maryadele spoke of spending the next several months transferring Laboure’s administrative tasks into Jake’s capable hands. Corporate executives and high-level organization officials would be well advised to act as responsibly.

After that, Sister herself plans to remain at Labouré. She’ll become involved in direct service to children, families, and grandparents impacted by the disease of addiction, while continuing to help raise funds to support Laboure programs. Dylan Thomas’s immortal line comes to mind: “Do not go gentle into that good night.”

But this isn’t the message Sr. Maryadele wants to leave you. She invites everyone to the spring reception; she promises an evening of fun. Mayor Marty Walsh and Lorrie Higgins are the event’s co-chairs. Cardinal Sean O’Malley will be an honored guest, Tom Tinlin will be the evening’s auctioneer, and Laboure Board Chair Bob Kelly will emcee the reception. If you haven’t been to the John Hancock Atrium, you are in for a breathtaking visual experience of South Boston.

On April 28, come and honor a great person and a great South Bostonian: Sr. Maryadele Robinson.