Black Catholic community presents annual awards

RANDOLPH -- Guests at the Office for Black Catholics' 20th Annual Bishop James Augustine Healy Award Dinner, Nov. 23, heard from past and present recipients of two awards presented by the Archdiocese of Boston Office for Black Catholics at the Lantana in Randolph.

During the reception, guests saw a 20 minute preview of a feature film that will be completed in early 2014 on previous award recipients and the history of black Catholics in the archdiocese.

As guests took their seats, the Archdiocese of Boston black Catholic Choir and St. Angela Parish Choir sang "The Lord is My Light."

The celebration marked 20 years of awardees receiving the Bishop James Augustine Healy and Robert L. Ruffin Awards for contributions to the black Catholic community in Boston.

"They continue to spread the good news through their prayer-filled lives, actions, evangelism and generous deeds," Lorna DesRoses, Director of the Office for Black Catholics, said in a statement sent to The Pilot after the event.

Previous Healy and Ruffin Awards recipients at the dinner were asked to come forward and were applauded by guests in recognition of their contributions over the years.

DesRoses, during her welcoming remarks, invited guests to recall the first Healy Dinner in November 1993.

"There was a feeling of excitement because finally, after many days, weeks and months of preparation, prayer and planning, this award dinner would finally happen," she said.

The 20th anniversary celebrated Bishop Healy Award honoree Myrtle Cruz, and the Robert Ruffin Award Honoree, Father William Joy, and remembered "all those who have worked tirelessly to make the dinner the wonderful tradition it has become," according to DesRoses.

During his speech, Father Joy said that learning that he would be receiving the Ruffin Award made him begin to reflect on his life. He said the image that came to his mind was that of the potter and the clay and of earthen vessels.

When she received the Healy Award, Myrtle Cruz thanked Cardinal Seán O'Malley for being a good shepherd, and expressed her gratitude to the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for their role in her life.

She also thanked Father Walter Waldron, recipient of the Ruffin Award in 2007 for being someone who "encourages everyone to have courage and fearless faith."

"I know she has had an impact in some way in the lives of each person in this room. From her wise words of wisdom to her loving notes filled with motivation, it is time for the roles to be reversed and for her to be recognized and lifted up tonight. I feel I can speak for all the grandchildren when I say I am so proud and fortunate to have you as my Nana. I love you and congratulations on your special night." Sydni Williams, her granddaughter, said.

Father Michael C. Harrington, Director of the Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity, gave the closing benediction and the evening ended with all those gathered singing "Lift ev'ry Voice."