Doreen Cullen

New scholarships honour the past, look to the future

  • May 9, 2013

TORONTO - Honouring the past and investing in the future has motivated Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto to establish two new scholarships for those pursuing a career in social work.

The scholarships will be named in honour of two former executive directors of Catholic Charities: Doreen Cullen and Fr. Paul Lennon.

“On the occasion of our 100th anniversary at Catholic Charities and we are establishing two scholarships that will be awarded annually to a young man and a young woman who are graduates of our Catholic education system,” said Michael Fullan, Catholic Charities’ executive director. “It is a way of recognizing that many of our agencies are involved in social work and we’d like to hold it up at this time ... to say that this is a noble career, a good career to get involved in and to send that message to young people who may be interested in social work.”

Although firm details have yet to be worked out, Fullan estimates each scholarship will be worth between $2,000 and $3,000. Those eligible must be a Catholic graduated from within the archdiocese of Toronto, display a commitment to volunteering within their community and be passionately pursuing a career in social work. The Doreen Cullen Scholarship will be awarded to a young woman, while the Fr. Paul Lennon Scholarship will go to a young man.

“We decided to name these two scholarships in honour of these two people because of the contributions that they made to social work in our community in many sectors over the years,” said Fullan. “The two people that we’re recognizing were real pioneers and very effective, good Catholic leaders. We think they made a major difference in our communities and in the development of our Catholic Charities social service system.”

Lennon said the name of the award doesn’t matter, that it is the getting award tickets itself that’s important.

“The name doesn’t matter but I’m delighted to hear that there is such a thing,” said Lennon, executive director from 1979 to 1983. “Our leader Jesus Christ spent a good deal of His life seeking out and helping the poor and disabled and distressed. So right from the start we had it in our heads that the poor were important.”

Lennon was succeeded by Cullen, now deceased, who led Catholic Charities for almost a decade before Fullan took over in 1993. While Lennon admits he only remembers meeting her four or five times, the priest said she displayed a strong sense of Catholicity.

“I know that her background was immense in Catholic agencies,” said Lennon. “I don’t know if she had any experience outside of the Catholic agencies and she was a very strong Catholic.”

Funding will primarily come from ticket proceeds for the 100th Anniversary Gala Dinner. May 16 About $100 from each $175 ticket will go directly to the scholarship fund.

Those unable to attend the dinner, or those who wish to give more, can do so by contacting Catholic Charities, said Fullan.

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