Living the Faith: Judy A. Maduegbunam

DORCHESTER -- The death of Judy Maduegbunam’s father could have driven her away from the Church, but the support she and her family received from her parish community only brought her closer to God.

Only 14 at the time and with two younger brothers, Maduegbunam recalled how her parish selflessly cared for them.

“When my dad died, the parish was really there for us,” she said. “They had prayer services and vigils. They came around to make sure we were all ok. They really showed us that they loved us.”

Above all, Maduegbunam recalls how the parish administrator, Father George Carrigg showed his support.

“Father George huddled around us. He really cared about our family,” she said, adding that “every day Father puts in 120 percent. He’s just awesome.”

Despite the sadness and sense of loss, Maduegbunam now sees that experience has taught her to appreciate the value of community. So much so that now, seven years later, she devotes much of her time to helping others in need.

She has taught religious education at St. Christopher’s. She has worked as a counselor for underprivileged children. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, she travelled to New Orleans, Alabama and Florida where she helped rebuild many homes. She has gone to Camden, N.J. -- a city where almost 40 percent of its residents live in poverty -- and has helped build homes there as well.

Currently a junior at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., where she is studying political science, Maduegbunam volunteers her time as a tutor for immigrant children from Africa at the Avalon Center in Greensboro.

“Social justice is where I have found my niche in the Catholic Church,” she explained.

“Not too many African-Americans are Catholics, and not too many African-Americans are involved in programs such as these,” continued Maduegbunam. “I feel honored to be a part of it.”

Maduegbunam, 21, was born and raised in Roxbury. Her family first became parishioners at St. Christopher’s when she was 5 years old. She attended Cathedral Grammar School and went on to graduate from Salesian’s Savio Prep High School in East Boston.

In 2007, she was presented with the Catholic Youth of the Year award by her parish for her dedication to her faith. Engraved on this award were the words Maduegbunam says have defined her faith: “Formed in love, guided by faith, strengthened by life’s challenges.”

“I haven’t done anything extraordinary,” she said modestly. “Jesus Christ lived a simple life and all I try to do is emulate that.”

St. Christopher Parish, Dorchester

Year established -- 1956

Administrator -- Father George A. Carrigg

Pastoral Associate -- Louise Tardif

Music Directors -- Jose Flores, Linda Woghiren