Sarah Hanley

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”  -Luke 1:31

In May, my thoughts always turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. How could they not? She is the matriarchal figure of scripture. Her story is of motherhood in the highest form. Her love and care for the Son of God serve as the ultimate example for mothers in every age.

I sometimes wonder, though, can we put ourselves in Mary’s shoes and imagine a time before Christ? She has only her faith and belief in God to guide her. Still, she embraces the Will of the Lord and plunges into a future that is defined entirely by God’s will..

Could we have recognized and understood the weight of the angel’s words, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. The child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke1:30-33,35)

Mary not only understands these words, she embodies them.

As we honor our mothers and mother figures this month, I reflect on Mary, the Mother of God, and the paragon she is for all of us. The Blessed Mother is a true model of hope, charity, and selfless love.

At CFGP, we are privileged to partner with countless organizations such as Catholic Social Services (CSS) of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that follows the loving example of the Blessed Mother in their day-to-day work especially with mothers and children

Throughout the Philadelphia area, CSS’ Family Service Centers provide support to moms-to-be, new parents, and single parents. Having a baby can be the best time of a woman’s life but it can also be stressful. CSS staff offer a helping hand to moms in need. CSS has trained Parent Educators who help moms get what they need to raise healthy, happy, and strong children.

Mercy Hospice is another inspiring example of the Blessed Mother at work. Mercy Hospice is a CSS residential program offering stability and hope to women in recovery from substance abuse — in particular mothers with young children. While there, women receive case management services, training, and assistance in developing life skills, parenting skills, job readiness, and preparation for independent living.

Another vital CSS program helping mothers and families is the Out-of-School Time Program. These are school-based community centers offering creative after-school activities and summer camps aimed at youth development and family support.

From Mercy Hospice, where moms in recovery can have their children with them, to the pre-natal classes for expectant moms at the Family Service Centers, the spirit of our Blessed Mother is unmistakably at work in our Catholic community. At The Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia, we work toward always being an extension of the hand of Christ and his Holy Mother.

If you are looking for a way to honor the mother in your life, consider making a gift to our CSS charitable fund by visiting

You can learn more about The Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia and our work by visiting our website at

We wish everyone a blessed Mother’s Day and may the grace of Mary fill your hearts during this Marian month and always.


Sarah Hanley is the president and CEO of the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia.