Summary of today’s show: The annual Bishop Healy Award dinner honors those in the Archdiocese of Boston who provide particular service to the Black Catholic community. Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams are joined by Lorna DesRoses of the Office for Black Catholics to talk to Anthony Owens, clerk-magistrate in Dorchester District Court, parishioner at St. Mary of the Angels Parish, and the 2012 winner of the Bishop James Augustine Healy Award; and Beth Chambers, director of Catholic Charities South, parishioner at Holy Name Parish, and the 2012 Robert L. Ruffin Award winner, about what it means to them and how they serve their community in an exemplary manner.
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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams
Today’s guest(s): Lorna DesRoses of the Office for Black Catholics; Anthony Owens, Healy Award winner; Beth Chambers, Ruffin Award winner
Links from today’s show:
- Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity
- Office for Black Catholics
- 2012 Bishop James Augustine Healy Award Dinner
- Bishop James Augustine Healy
Today’s topics: 2012 Bishop Healy Awards Dinner
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed Fr. Matt Williams to the show and talked about his travels around the archdiocese this week. Fr. Matt said last Wednesday they celebrated the 50 years of service to the Archdiocese’s CYO program by Peter Williams. He also talked about a recent presentation to Confirmation candidates about how God has created them for greatness. He also spoke of the Black Catholic revival between St. Angela’s in Mattapan and St. Matthew in Dorchester, including a youth component on Saturday.
2nd segment: Scot welcomed Lorna DesRoses, Anthony Owens and Beth Chambers from Catholic Charities South. Scot asked Lorna about the Bishop Healy Award. She said it is given in honor of Bishop James Augustine Healy, the first recognized black Catholic bishop in the US. He was the first chancellor of the Archdiocese of Boston and the second bishop of the Diocese of Portland, Maine. The award is given to a black Catholic who shows exemplary leadership and has given exemplary service to the community. Anthony Owens is a parishioner of St. Mary of Angels and has been very active in the parish and community. He has raised his son and been very involved in his education. This is the 19th year of the Healy Award.
Anthony said he was honored to receive the award. He said he was speechless when Lorna called to tell him about it. He said he helped start the food pantry at St. Mary’s a number of years ago. He’s served the parish council, been involved in the celebrations committee. He worked with Boston Symphony Orchestra to bring classical music to his community. He helped with a 24-hour prayer revival.
Scot asked about St. Mary of the Angels Parish. Anthony said he’s been in the parish for 26 year. It’s in the Eggleston Square section of Boston. There is a large Spanish-speaking population and a large African-American community. It is very diverse. They also have strong relationships with the parishes that surround them.
Scot asked Lorna about the Ruffin Award. Lorna said Robert Ruffin was involved in the 19th century Black Catholic congress movement. The award is given to someone who serves the black Catholic community, is dedicated to the faith, shows the unity within the diversity of the Church, and shows great personal character. She said Beth Chambers is receiving the award for her work in Catholic Charities. Lorna said this is the sixth Ruffin award being given out.
Scot asked Beth what it means to her. Beth has worked for Catholic Charities for 22 years. Beth said when she was first told she said there must be some mistake. She said her husband, Meyer, gets the awards. He is the founder of the archdiocesan Black Catholic choir. She also looked to the previous recipients who did so much. She said her husband is proud of her. She said her work in Catholic Charities started because of Meyer.
Beth said when she was in Boston’s Catholic Charities, she helped with the basic needs programs in the area of the Cathedral in the South End. In August, she was appointed as director of Catholic Charities South. It’s a different role for her now. She talked about how people she works with are often at the very rock bottom of life. She also oversees Sunset Point Camp in Hull, for kids who couldn’t otherwise go to camp or have a vacation. It was closed for a year a couple of years, but they were able to re-open it with community support.
Beth said the basic needs program has increased manyfold in recent years. The first 8 months of this year, the numbers at the food pantry in Dorchester have doubled. But the funding is not increasing and so they have to be more creative about getting food. They see that there aren’t other food pantries around them in Boston or Roxbury so they serve the people who come to them. Scot asked Anthony if his food pantry sees the same increasing needs. He said in his position as magistrate-clerk for the Dorchester District Court and he sees people with those same basic needs and he sends them to Catholic Charities.
Scot asked Lorna what else happens at the dinner besides the awards. She said the Black Catholic choir provides music throughout the evening. They have a raffle. The dinner is on Saturday, Nov. 3. People come from various parishes to support the honorees. The guest speaker this year will be Prof. Maria Hilton from BU School of Law. She is a lifelong Catholic, mother of 7. The theme of the dinner is “Be Doers of the Word, Not Hearers Only”. Tickets and tables are still available. c
3rd segment: This week’s benefactor card raffle winner is Johanna Butler Tenenbaum from Boston
She wins the Magnificat Year of Faith Companion and the audio CD Journey in Faith by Johnnette Benkovic.
If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit WQOM.org. For a one-time $30 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for WQOM’s weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.
4th segment: Beth said she’s a parishioner at Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury. She said it’s a beautiful church with a wonderful community and pastor. Scot asked her about how working in Brockton has been different from Boston. She said they have parent aid programs, programs for children, and a huge food pantry. The pantry is set up with shopping carts letting people shop for their food as opposed to being given a bag of food. This is a total choice pantry.
Fr. Matt asked Beth how the theme for the dinner resonates with her. She said it’s a quotes from the Letter to James that she just heard the other day. She said whether it’s paid workers or volunteers, it’s the truth. They couldn’t do what they do at Catholic Charities without volunteers. In Brockton, they have young people and elderly who come help out. They have four young Mormon men who volunteer also. Beth said she considers herself a Martha, someone who just works in the background. She loves the behind-the-scenes preparation work, letting others shine as it happens.
Anthony said many hands, make for light work. Many people are less active, but could do more. He asked them to please come and get so much out of it. They’ll see people thank them for helping them to eat for the first time in days. They’ll help young people, directing them away to something that helps them, as opposed to hurts them.
Fr. Matt asked Tony how his faith inspires him and lives out his work. Tony said everything he does, he brings his Catholic faith to it. They have people who come through Dorchester Court that he greets with respect and dignity, who haven’t experienced that elsewhere. He emphasizes that with his staff and even those who appear before him as clerk-magistrate. Fr. Matt asked Tony to share about what it means to be a Dad as a Catholic and as someone who sees so many young people appear before him coming from broken homes. Tony said before he became a dad, he was an uncle raising his two-year-old nephew. He turned to his parish for that support to help them grow in their faith. He prepares his children for a live when their father won’t be around. Give them a strong spiritual foundation. He them to know how to make good moral choices. A father has to be loving and patient and there all the time even if not physically always.
Scot said a father’s job is to raise adults, not kids. He’s sure Tony has seen people in many different life stages and places, the best and worst of society. They talked about you’re never prepared for fatherhood. Tony said he saw as a probation officer how giving people the right resources can make a difference in their lives.
Scot asked Lorna what she hopes to be the result of the award dinner for the community. She said in addition to inspiring us to be doers of the Word, she hopes it encourages us by seeing someone doing something wonderful and maybe acts as a catalyst for them to do more.
Beth said she’ll be expected to give a 3-5 minute acceptance speech. She’s attended every single award dinner so receiving the Ruffin Award makes it even more special. Anthony said he’s also mapped out his acceptance speech. Scot said it’s a challenge to name everybody you need to thank. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the people who’ve set you on this path in life to serve the Church and the people served in the name of the Church. Tony said throughout his life he’s had many who’ve helped him, but his parents stand out. His mother ensured he would go to church. Fr. Charles Bryson was a teacher in school who told him he was capable of great things. He also would name many of the people at St. Mary’s.
Beth said first and foremost she would name her husband. She grew up as a Catholic, but it wasn’t a Catholic household. So when she married her husband it was like a baptism by fire in her faith.