Program #0183 for Monday, November 21, 2011: 2011 Cheverus Award Recipients

November 21, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry

Today’s guest(s): Recipients of the 2011 Cheverus Awards

  • Joan Fawls, St Mary of the Hills, Milton
  • Frances X. Hogan, Massachusetts Catholic Conference
  • Frank McCarthy, St Rita, Lowell
  • Chester & Patricia Morrill, St Richard, Danvers
  • Benoit Thibault, St Augustine, Andover
  • Brother Daniel Walters, OSB, Glastonbury Abbey
  • Ann Casey, St Marguerite d’Youville, Dracut
  • Linda Newell, Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Marblehead
  • Mary Therese Ferraris, St Jude, Norfolk
  • Deacon Michael J. Markham, Our Lady of Grace, Pepperell, along with Fr. Paul Ring
  • Eileen Simmons, Our Lady of Grace, Pepperell
  • Deacon A.J. Constantino, Sacred Heart, East Boston
  • Thomas Maloney, St. Ann, West Bridgewater

Today’s topics: 2011 Cheverus Awards

Summary of today’s show: The Good Catholic Life was live at Holy Cross Cathedral on Sunday to bring you 13 stories of some of the 97 unsung heroes of the parishes of the Archdiocese who received the Cheverus Award from Cardinal Seán. What’s remarkable about them is how unremarkable the stories are in one way: These humble people acknowledged that there are many more just like them in their parishes, doing the same work of living out the Gospel in the world. They are the Body of Christ in the world and on this Solemnity of Christ the King, they emerged from the shadows for a brief moment of recognition on behalf of all those they represent.

1st segment: Scot said yesterday at Holy Cross Cathedral was a special ceremony in which Cardinal Seán awarded 96 Cheverus Medals to recipients who were recognized for their service to the Catholic community. Established in 2008, in conjunction with the archdiocese’s bicentennial celebration, the Cheverus Award is named after the first Bishop of Boston, Jean-Louis Lefebvre de Cheverus. Bishop Cheverus led the diocese from 1808 until his return to his native France in 1824.

The award is given to lay people, deacons and religious in parishes and other archdiocesan ministries for their service to the Church and the people of God. Recipients are nominated by pastors, regional bishops and the central ministries of the archdiocese. Cardinal O’Malley also chooses some of the recipients personally.

Scot and Rick interviewed 13 of the recipients at the end the ceremony and those recordings will be played..

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Scot welcomes Joan Fawls of St. Mary of the Hills, Milton. Her children all attended the parish school and she become involved through the PTO. She’s also involved in a food program that brings desserts to residents of a homeless shelter. She’s been running it for about 7 years. She was humbled to be selected from among so many who work so hard. She said it’s an easy program to run, she has the gift of organization. She loves running it. This was Joan’s first time to the cathedral and she said it was very lovely.

Scot welcomes Fran Hogan, a Boston attorney and volunteer who has served the pro-life committee of the Mass. Catholic Conference. She said she was shocked to be given the award. She chairs the pro-life and family life subcommittee and she’s dealing with many issues in the public arena, including assisted suicide. She said there are many euphemisms in use. For example, the Hemlock Society has changed its name to Compassion in Choice. Massachusetts is seen as a testbed because of its large medical community. She is a member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Everett. In her day job, she is a real estate attorney.

Scot said the Cheverus Awards work by having each diocese nominating one person every three years. Scot said St. Rita’s in Lowell nominated Frank McCarthy. Frank has been a member his entire life, being baptized there and getting married there. His main involvement is in religious education and RCIA. The ministry has helped his own faith. He said he learns more by preparing to teach it. He said he couldn’t understand why he was chosen for the award because so many are deserving of it. Scot asked why St. Rita’s is a shrine. The church was originally St. Columba, but because of a number of miracles attributed to St. Rita’s the name was changed in 1924. He’s experienced healing through the intercession of St. Rita. In 1987, he was sick and his wife attended a healing service where she prayed for him and at the same moment he was healed.

Scot said of the 97 recipients were two couples, including Chester and Patricia Morrell of St. Richard, Danvers. Patricia said it’s wonderful to win with her husband. Patricia said her husband was on active duty for 30 years, but together they were lectors, eucharistic ministers, they cleaned the church, took kids on retreats for many years. Someone needed to do it, so they just did it. The moved to Danvers from Lynn in 1973. They are celebrating 61 years married this year. Patricia said she missed the original announcement of their award an only found out they were getting it two weeks ago.

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Scot and Rick talked about the importance of unsung heroes in the parish like Chester and Patricia. Rick said it’s nice that yesterday was a day to thank the people who don’t often get thanked.

Scot welcomed Benoit Thibault from St. Augustine, Andover. He’s been a member of the parish for 21 years. He’s originally from Montreal. He’s involved with Franciscan brothers, Lazarus House, Cor Unum, Pregnancy Care, men’s ministry, and religious education. He’s retired and so he has time to do these things. Scot said the Gospel readings were about the corporal works of mercy and that is a list that matches those works of mercy. Every Tuesday, he goes to Cor Unum to feed the homeless. There are many more from the parish who are involved in the ministries of the parish. Scot said pastors tell him how difficult it is to select one person to nominate. Scot said he met Benoit in Legatus, a society for Catholic businessmen. Benoit worked his whole career in the lumber business.

Scot said most of the awards were given to lay men and women, but each of the five auxiliary bishops were able to nominate a religious brother or sister and a deacon. Scot now interviews Br. Daniel Walters from Glastonbury Abbey. He’s been there since 1973. The abbey is a Benedictine monastery. They first came to Hingham in 1954 from Wisconsin. There is a retreat house, conference center, and bookstore. They also do some outreach in the community, including local parishes and soup kitchens. There are only nine monks now so there are a lot of laypeople involved. He’s from Quincy and after reading Thomas Merton, he became interested in the monastic life. Scot said Benedictines are known for liturgy and this is a big week in the liturgy with the change in the missal. They’ve been helping people prepare for the changes.

The abbey offers retreats for individuals or groups, for many different themes and other faith traditions.

Rick said the theme we see in the interviews is that these people at the cathedral are taking to heart the words of this past Sunday’s Gospel, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. They are out there literally feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned and more. Two of the 13 interviewees told Scot they know his mom, including Ann Casey of St Marguerite d’Youville, Dracut. Ann said she works one day a week in the parish office recording sacraments. She’s also in charge of bereavement luncheons, CORI checks, bulletin inserts, and other administrative work. She’s been a part of the parish since about 1974. Scot said when he was young it was called St. Theresa’s church. Scot said it was originally combined with St. Francis in Dracut and now shares a pastor with St. Rita in Lowell. Scot has many positive memories of the parish from growing up.

Scot is joined by Linda Newell, Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Marblehead. She’s been a parishioner there for about 32 years. She coordinates the Christian service programs, both outreach and within the parish. She also helps with communion ministry and she’s a lector. They are currently doing a giving tree which provides Christmas gifts for those who would not otherwise have them. They will gather about 1,000 gifts. She found out she was getting the ward from Fr. Steele. She was surprised and humbled and the award made her think of all the wonderful people of the parish who do so much. Scot said that is a common reaction among recipients because they recognize how many are involved in building up the parishes.

Scot said this was the first-time they had used the new mobile studio for remote recording and he was worried that the choir practicing before the ceremony would drown out the interviews, but it turned out to be a nice backdrop for them.

Scot welcomed Mary Therese Ferraris, St Jude, Norfolk, immediately after the ceremony. She was surprised to be notified she was getting the award. She’s receiving it on behalf of a lot of people. She was director of religious education for 26 years in that parish. She’s now educating the children of some of her first students. She said it’s wonderful to be recognized by Cardinal Seán for helping to build up the Church. Scot said many recipients are involved in religious education for young people. She said she does it for the children. Seeing those happy faces each year makes it worth it.

Scot welcomed Deacon Michael J. Markham, Our Lady of Grace, Pepperell, along with Fr. Paul Ring. Michael said it’s an opportunity to remember all the people who have influenced his faith over the years, from his first religious education teacher to his family to his pastors and to his wife. Scot said to Fr. Ring that it must be agonizing to be able to send in one or two names to be recognized. Fr. Ring said Fr. Arthur Coyle submitted Deacon Mike’s name, but for the lay leadership of the parish it took a lot of time to finally settle on Eileen Simmons. Scot welcomed Eileen Simmons. She taught second grade CCD for many years, preparing them for First Communion. She also worked in Legion of Mary and was a Eucharistic Minister for 25 years. In the Legion, they would go out to visit people’s homes and pray the rosary with them. She said she knew Scot’s mom very well. She said it’s nice to run into children of the people she taught when they were in second grade. She said she was very nervous to receive the honor from Cardinal Seán. She said said the whole parish is so supportive and she’s received many congratulations from parishioners. Many of her friends and family members were present. She has 7 daughters, 19 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

In the studio, Scot said it was very moving to be in the presence of a woman who has done so much for the Church over decades.

Scot welcomed Deacon A.J. Constantino from Sacred Heart Parish, East Boston. Scot said it’s a very diverse parish. They celebrate Mass in English, Italian, and Vietnamese. Each community is actually growing. It’s a very active parish school family. The Vietnamese youth are thriving. They merged with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in East Boston and the Italian community has become a vibrant part of the parish. His wife, Betty, also a recipient of the Cheverus Award. He said part of the diaconate is that it’s a husband and wife ministry. His wife and daughter are as active in the parish as he is. Betty is the parish youth minister and is involved in the daily activities of the parish. He grew up in a family where the family life centered around the parish life and when he dated, he looked for someone who’s family life was like his, so it’s natural to be part of a parish community. The deacons are selected by the regional bishops and he was selected by Bishop Hennessey. Deacon Constantino said he loves being a deacon.

Scot welcomed Thomas Maloney of St. Ann, West Bridgewater. Thomas has been a parishioner for 16 years. He’s on the finance council, is a eucharistic minister, and helps with eucharistic adoration. He often goes to the Pastoral Center for noon Mass on his vacations. He was honored to receive the letter from the Cardinal’s office and he was caught off-guard by it. He never expected it. He was awed by being in the cathedral and then walking up to receive the award from the cardinal was amazing. Thomas said we need to give back to the church what God has given to us. Pastors are often alone and need the help of many to help the parish thrive. He said the CCD program offer the biggest bang for the buck, the highest return on the investment. For those who don’t think they know enough about their faith to teach, they can start by being a teacher’s aide, get some training and eventually end up teaching. Scot said it’s a wonderful way to learn the faith.

Scot read the complete of those who received the award, available at the following link.

Scot said it was wonderful to see all the priests who were also there, overjoyed to celebrate the hard work of their parishioners.

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