The evening before Tara Runge started her new job at Catholic Charities, she walked her dog through her neighborhood and – as she often does – talked quietly to her parents, who have both passed away. She was confident about her decision, but asked them to watch over her.
The next morning, during her virtual new-employee orientation, Runge – a part-time administrative assistant at Our Daily Bread Employment Center – was viewing a video about the history of Catholic Charities when she gasped loud enough for her husband to come from a nearby room. She had seen her mother on the screen.
“Boy was I surprised to see such a concrete sign that they heard me!” she said. “I was thankful that I was not on Zoom when the tears came!”
Runge’s parents, Bill and Mary Jane “Mike” Flynn, came to Baltimore in 1954 and raised their seven children here. Runge’s mother was a generous volunteer, the kind of person who celebrated the October birthdays at a local Catholic orphanage by taking the children skating, who invited kids at Villa Maria to join family dinners at home, and who gave her time at Stella Maris’s hospice for almost 30 years.
The still photo in the orientation video features Mike Flynn with another woman and three children, all smiling, holding hands and dressed beautifully. Runge and her siblings guess that it was taken while their mother was volunteering with a Catholic Charities program.
Runge was moved by the trajectory that connected her new position at Our Daily Bread Employment Center so directly to her mother’s passion for service.
Mike Flynn passed away in September at 91. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, she was able to visit and talk with her seven children, their spouses and nine of her 14 grandchildren shortly before she passed.
Runge shared the picture of her mother from the orientation video with her siblings, who sent it across the large family. The responses rolled in “to the effect of ‘Mom Mom is smiling,'” she said, using the grandchildren’s name for her mother.
Runge said her first few days at Catholic Charities have gone well, adding “everybody’s been very welcoming.” Plus, she said, “When my mother’s face popped up, it was a sign I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”