Mission Made Possible

Catholic Charities of Boston's mission is to build a just and compassionate society rooted in the dignity of all people.
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At age 35, Marshall Sloane received devastating news: he had terminal cancer. In his own eyes, Marshall was not a cancer patient—he was a Somerville resident, father of three, devoted husband, and bank owner—and instead of feeling defeated by his diagnosis, Marshall decided, “I might as well enjoy myself,” and so he “went and bought a boat.” Marshall’s boat was not the only means by which his optimism stayed afloat; for while coping with his illness, he met a Catholic nun who would influence the young father for the rest of his life.

Today, Marshall remembers his friendship with the sister fondly, chuckling, “You should have seen Marshall Sloane riding his new boat up and down the Charles River with three nuns!” Despite being a devout practitioner of the Jewish faith, Marshall readily accepted his new friend’s offer to pray for him, and these prayers—along with medical treatment—worked. Once in remission, Marshall admitted, “God was good.” So good, in fact, that Marshall remembered a commitment he made while ill, saying, “I felt if I was strong and made it through [my illness], I would give back.” Today, this promise is well-kept by Marshall Sloane and his family, who remain unflinching allies of Catholic Charities of Boston and the clients it serves.

Marshall remembers his philanthropic roots, reflecting, “The first time I made a major gift was to Massachusetts General Hospital in honor of the doctor who cured me ... I felt very good about it. It made me raise my level of giving and tell others how good it feels to give.”

This impulse to give back led Marshall to Catholic Charities, returning the support offered to him by the compassionate nun on the Charles River. To this day, Marshall and, his wife, Barbara, still feel strongly connected to Catholic Charities. When speaking about the agency, Barbara boasts, “The people and the cause are unbelievable, and every person who has been involved has been so kind ... [the agency] saves so many young people.” In agreement, Marshall proudly adds, “The volunteers are amazing. We’re Jewish and we’ve always been treated like family by Catholic Charities and the Catholic Church.”

Despite the Sloanes’ immense personal, professional, and philanthropic successes, Barbara maintains that her greatest accomplishments are, “marrying my husband and having my children.” Barbara and Marshall still beam as they talk about their family, and Marshall recalls, “I schlepped them with me when they were young. They went to the banks on Saturdays and Sundays. They had to work hard for things. If they wanted a car, I handed them a tool box to start.” However, Marshall also understands the importance of balancing challenge and support, explaining, “You need someone to support what you do, [to] keep kids grounded, because you meet the same people going up as you do going down.”

The Sloanes’ parenting philosophy closely mirrors Catholic Charities’ core beliefs: people thrive when given the tools needed for success and the support needed to use them. Catholic Charities is enormously lucky to have friends as dedicated as the Sloanes. Moreover, the world is lucky to have a story that showcases so much hope. Through their overwhelming generosity, Marshall and Barbara have taught all who know them that love, dedication, compassion, and perseverance can overcome all, whether these forces take the form of a major donation or a prayer said on the Charles.