23rd Sanctae Crucis Awards Highlights Pandemic Heroes

Ethan Bachand ‘22

Chief News Editor

Graphic Design by Hui Li ’21

         On May 5, the College of the Holy Cross recognized 7 distinguished alumni at the 23rd Sanctae Crucis Awards Cermony for their societal contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the event did not resemble the eloquent banquets Holy Cross typically throws in Hogan Ballroom, the theme of the night provided the same emotional moments that typically accompany the ceremony. Across a range of different professions that combated the pandemic, alumni were honored with the highest non-degree award at the College.

         In a manner that resembled previous Sanctae Crucis ceremonies, Rev. Philip Boroughs, S.J., gave introductory remarks. Fr. Boroughs spoke about the turbulent months the College experienced during the pandemic and how the institution excelled through these challenging times. After speaking about Holy Cross’s experience, Fr. Boroughs turned to talking about the honorees. He cited their commitment to Jesuit ideals in life and especially with the spread of coronavirus.

         After the opening remarks, Fr. Boroughs called upon Provost Margaret Freije to read the citation. Each one, which lasted three to four minutes a piece, spoke about the recipients educational and post-graduate journeys. Dr. Helen Bouche, Class of 1986, was the first person to receive their award. Dr. Bouche, who is a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, is an infectious diseases expert at Tufts Medical Center who served as one of the key advisors to for the Holy Cross Covid Core Team. When accepting her award, Dr. Bouche credited her Holy Cross education for helping her communicate clearly and living through the uncertainty of the pandemic.

         Next, the College presented Dr. John Brown, Class of 1978, with the Sanctae Crucis Award. In the citation, Dean Freije referred to Dr. Brown as the model for grace under pressure. Dr. Brown, a veteran of the U.S. Navy Medical Core, serves as an Associate Clinical Professors as well as EMS and Disaster Director for the University of California San Francisco. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Brown credited the values he learned at Holy Cross, including dignity, honesty, and service, amongst others, for his success in the field. He then spoke directly about Jesuit values, saying that it was our duty, right, honor, promise, and joy to live up to that ideal.

         Dr. Chris Crean, Class of 1997, was recognized after Dr. Brown. Dr. Crean is a certified emergency physician who serves as an Associate Director at Robert Johnson University. Due to his specialty, Dr Crean has found himself at the forefront of the pandemic. When he was given the opportunity to speak, Dr. Crean thanked Holy Cross for preparing him to enter the medical field. He also spoke about how many other graduates from the hill have entered the medical profession and thanked them for their dedicated service.

         After Dr. Crean, his wife Teresa Crean, R.N, also Class of 1997, heard her citation. Mrs. Crean became a registered nurse in 2019. Despite only a year on the job, Mrs. Crean worked through the pandemic as an ICU nurse. On top of which, Mrs. Crean’s sign language expertise allowed her to communicate with COVID patients. In her speech to accept the Sanctae Crucis Award, Mrs. Crean showed a sign from her home that read “Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created.” According to Mrs. Crean, she and her husband would exchange the motto daily as a source of strength through the pandemic. Mrs. Crean also thanked her children for their continued support over the past year.

         Afterwards, Christine Kirsch, R.N., Class of 2006, was presented with her award. Ms. Kirsch has received a variety of specialized training that expanded her expertise in the nursing field to the cardiothoracic ICU at New York Presbyterian. Provost Freije went so far as to call her a “nurse’s nurse.” During the pandemic Ms. Kirsch became a cofounder of Daybreak Health, which successfully ran both testing and vaccine sites. She said that the opportunity to run a vaccine clinic was one of the most rewarding moments of the pandemic.

         Ronald Lawson, Class of 1975, followed Ms. Kirsch. Provost Freije stated in the citation that Mr. Lawson was a man of empathy and compassion. He serves as the Chief Operation Officer at Care for the Homeless, which faced untold challenges trying to help people during the pandemic. The organization operates 26 healthcare centers normally, but Mr. Lawson also helped create a COVID-19 Impact Fund to cover new operating costs. Mr. Lawson thanked his wife and coworkers for his success.

         Erin McAleer, Class of 2002, was the final recipient for the night. Mrs. McAleer serves as the President and CEO of Project Bread and has dedicated much of her life to finding creative solutions to end hunger in Massachusetts. Mrs. McAleer, like many of her fellow alumni, was thankful for her Jesuit education while at Holy Cross. She specifically referenced the social justice teachings from the College as a driver behind her life’s work.         After the final acceptance speech, Fr. Boroughs returned for closing remarks and prayer. Fr. Boroughs said this was the proudest evening from his time at the college, and once again thanked the recipients for all their hard work. Then, he offered a concluding prayer that was followed by the performance of the Holy Cross Alma Mater.

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