News & Press

Cardinal To Present Bishop Healy Award

CONTACT:  Lorna DesRoses, Coordinator of Black Catholic Ministries, Office of Cultural Diversity, 617-746-5810 or 5794

WHAT:  Bishop Healy Award Dinner

WHEN:  Saturday, November 21, 2009

TIME:    Reception, 6:00pm; Dinner, 7:00pm

WHERE:  The Lantana, 43 Scanlon Drive, Randolph, MA 02368

On November 21, 2009, Sean Cardinal O’Malley will present the Bishop James Augustine Healy award to Fr. Russell Best, former pastor of St. John-St. Hugh Church in the Grove Hall area of Boston and former chaplain for the Division of Youth Services, Matignon High School   and Cathedral High School.  Fr. Best has been a caring and compassionate presence to many parishioners and an encouraging mentor to young people. The Bishop James Augustine Healy Award is given in honor of the legacy of the first recognized black bishop in the United States. This award is presented to an individual who has exemplified strong, effective leadership and service within the Black Catholic community.  

That same evening, Sr. Mary Hart, RGS, will receive the Robert L. Ruffin Award for all that she has done to help young people in the Roxbury area receive a quality education through the after school program which she has persevered to build up and develop. In addition, she has been an encouraging and supportive presence to all at St. Katharine Drexel parish and the community at large. The Robert Leo Ruffin Award is presented in honor of a prominent Black Catholic who was dedicated to the education of children and the eradication of injustice and is given to those who foster educational opportunities and demonstrate strong personal faith and compassion.

Bishop James Augustine Healy (1830-1900)

Bishop Healy was the first African American Roman Catholic Bishop in the United States, the second Bishop of Portland, Maine, and a priest of the Boston Diocese.  The eldest of ten children born to Michael Healy, an Irishman, and Mary Eliza, a slave from Macon, Georgia, James Augustine was valedictorian of the first class to graduate from Holy Cross College, Worcester, MA.  After seminary studies in Montreal, Canada and Louvain, Belgium, he was ordained for the Diocese of Boston.  In 1875, he became the first Black Catholic Bishop in the United States of America and the second Ordinary of the Diocese of Portland, Maine.

The James Augustine Healy Award

The James Augustine Healy Award is given to individuals who have provided strong effective leadership and service to the Black Catholic community.  These individuals have fostered educational opportunities and demonstrated strong personal faith and compassion.  They have an intense interest in encouraging a healthy Black Catholic identity; have been an example of lifestyles reflecting the meaning of the church universal.  The award recipients are concerned with and sensitive to the social teaching of the Church.

Robert Leo Ruffin (1857 – 1934)

Robert Leo Ruffin, a prominent Black Catholic from Boston, was one of the main supporters of the first Black Catholic Congress held in Washington, D. C. in 1889.  Mr. Ruffin led the Boston delegation at the Congress and was the Congress spokesman at their historic meeting with President Grover Cleveland at the White House.  In addition, Mr. Ruffin headed the new resolutions committee, which was instrumental in unifying the delegates around issues such as education, Catholic schools for Black children, eliminating discrimination and ending degrading practices.  As a dedicated Black Catholic, Robert Leo Ruffin exemplified the participation of Black laity in the Catholic Church which continues to this day.

Robert L. Ruffin Award

The Robert Leo Ruffin Award is presented to individuals who have offered selfless sacrifice, creative vision and significant service to the Black Catholic community.  These individuals have fostered educational opportunities and demonstrated strong personal faith and compassion, and have reflected in their lives active concern for the unity of the Church.