2018-04-11 / Features

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald Of Hour Children To Be Honored

On Friday, May 4, the St. John’s University Ladies of Charity will host their annual “Evening of Hope” from 7:00-11:00 pm at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston. Sr. Tesa Fitzgerald, CSJ will receive the St. Louise de Marillac Spes Unica Award and deliver the keynote address.

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, CSJ, the Executive Director of Hour Children, was involved in the founding of the organization when she became a foster parent in 1989 to eight children of incarcerated mothers at the convent where she lived. In 1996, when Hour Children became a 501 (c)(3) organization, Sister Tesa extended her outreach to offer supportive services to other children of incarcerated mothers and the mothers themselves. Prior to that, she was responsible for NYS curriculum oversight for Catholic elementary schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, and both a school principal and teacher at various Catholic elementary schools. In addition to being an educator, she is a Certified Foster Care Trainer. Sister Tesa has been named a CNN Hero (2012), a White House Champion of Change (2013), the 2014 winner of the Opus Prize, and in 2015 was awarded the Cross Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice.

The Spes Unica Award was established by the St. John’s University Ladies of Charity in 2014 to recognize a person who exemplifies the spirit of St. Louise de Marillac by radically improving the lives of others through service. St. Louise de Marillac was the spiritual moderator of St. Vincent de Paul’s lay women’s society, the Ladies of Charity. In 1633 she co-founded the religious order the Daughters of Charity with St. Vincent to address more completely the grinding poverty of 17th-century France. The newly formed Daughters of Charity set up soup kitchens, organized community hospitals, established schools and homes for orphaned children, offered job training, taught the young to read and write, and improved prison conditions.

St. Louise died in 1660 and inscribed on the cross at her grave is the Latin phrase “spes unica,” which means “one hope” or “only hope.” These words reflect St. Louise’s belief that service to humanity through systematic planning, sustainable programming and extensive collaboration is the “one hope” to effectively alleviate the burdens of people living in poverty. Four centuries later, that vision is reflected in the lives of people like Sr. Tesa and previous recipients; it is a vision celebrated by the Ladies of Charity, St. John’s University and the whole Vincentian Family.

The “Evening of Hope” begins at 7 pm and participation will support the charitable works of the Ladies of Charity at St. John’s University. Tickets cost $90. The evening will include a silent auction and raffles. To be a sponsor, purchase tickets and register for the event, visit: www.conta.cc/2GLCQsd.

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