SOAR! held its 25th Anniversary Gala Award Dinner on Friday, 4 November 2011, at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC.  SOAR! was pleased to honor Mrs. Mary Jane Cullen with the 2011 Elizabeth Ann Seton Award.

For further information, please contact SOAR!’s Special Event Coordinator, Sister Kate Clancy, IHM at 202.529.7627 or by email at kclancy@soar-usa.org.

Photos from the 2011 DC Award Dinner (Click thumbnails to enlarge):

Our 2011 Washington, DC Elizabeth Ann Seton Award Honoree: Mrs. Mary Jane Cullen

At the annual benefit dinners, SOAR! honors an individual who exemplifies Catholic values, shows leadership in the Church and community, expresses care and concern for consecrated religious men and women and lends support to SOAR! and Catholic organizations.

Mary Jane Dempsey Cullen, daughter of Thomas A. and Jane Dempsey, was born and raised in Scranton, Pa. She and her three brothers spent their summers at nearby Lake Ariel, Pa., where Thomas Cullen’s family also had a summer home.

Mary Jane attended Central High School in Scranton and went onto Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. She married her high school sweetheart, the late Thomas Cullen, and they moved to Washington, D.C., to raise their family of 11 children – nine boys and two girls. The family enterprise they built has grown to include 37 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, all of whom are in the greater Washington area and most of whom were the beneficiaries of the Washington parochial school system.

While a proud graduate of public school, Mary Jane was is a career-long supporter of Catholic schools and the combination of values and intellectual discipline that they offer.  All 11 of her own children attended and graduated from Blessed Sacrament School in Washington, D.C., and the Cullen tradition there continues. There has been at least one Cullen continuously in attendance at Blessed Sacrament for over 50 years. During one academic year recently, there were 10 of her grandchildren attending Blessed Sacrament.

In addition to the ongoing work of raising three generations in the Church, Mary Jane Cullen is a generous supporter of local charities, a volunteer English tutor for recent immigrants, and tireless life coach for a global circle of family and friends. Blessed Sacrament still is the “family” school and church, and she and her family still return every year to Pennsylvania summer houses where she and Mr. Cullen met.