'Sacrifice and dedication' honored at Cheverus Awards

NEWTON -- In her parish, St. Paul Church in Hamilton, Kathleen Brumby helps pick up after children, makes coffee every Sunday morning, takes out the trash, and locks up the church every night. She's been doing that for "quite a few years," and during an afternoon prayer service at Our Lady Help of Christians, Dec. 3, she received recognition for all her hard work.

Brumby was one of 134 people to receive a Cheverus Medal this year, which were awarded by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley during the service that saw the Newton church filled with friends and family of the recipients.

Since 2008, the archdiocese's bicentennial year, one-third of the parishes of the archdiocese are annually asked to nominate a parishioner for the award. A criterion given to pastors suggests that the nominee be a layperson who has served the parish over an extended period of time and has done so in a "quiet, unassuming, and, perhaps, unrecognized way."

Award recipients can also include deacons and religious nominated by regional bishops and episcopal vicars and individuals selected by Cardinal O'Malley personally.

The medal is named after Bishop Jean-Louis Lefebvre de Cheverus, the first bishop of the then Diocese of Boston.

Bishop Cheverus led the diocese from 1808 until his return to France in 1824, and his likeness is featured on one side of the oval-shaped silver medal. On the reverse side is his coat of arms and his motto, "Diligamus nos invicem," ("Let us love one another").

In his homily, the cardinal thanked the award recipients for all that they do, saying "We are so blessed with so many good and generous Catholics in our archdiocese."

He pointed to a recent weekend collection the archdiocese held for victims of natural disasters around the world. Thanks to the contributions from parishioners, he said, the collection raised over $2 million.

"We were so grateful for the generous response from our Catholics here in the archdiocese," he said.

In all of our parishes and agencies, "we have so many volunteers and workers that ensure that the mission of the Church goes on."

"Today, we simply want to say 'thank you,' and express, also, our gratitude to God, for giving us such generous and faithful brothers and sisters whose hard work, sacrifice and dedication allow the ministries and services of the Catholic community to carry on," said Cardinal O'Malley.

Deacon Leo Donoghue was one of this year's recipients, and at a reception held in the church hall following the service, he told The Pilot receiving the medal was a "powerful" and "humbling" experience.

He said he has been a deacon for the past 25 years, and currently ministers at St. Joseph Parish in Quincy.

Deacon Donoghue said he "loves" serving as a deacon, saying that he enjoys working with such "great guys" and noting that it is a "humbling experience."

Elayna O'Neil, a parishioner at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Revere, has been teaching Sunday school "off and on" for the past 50 years, since she was 14. She volunteers at the rectory, and over the years "has done a lot of things for the Church."

Nevertheless, she was "shocked" to get the medal.

"I feel that more people deserve it more than I do," O'Neil said.

The work that she does, she explained, is what "Jesus wants me to do."

"Love one another, and be nice to everybody that you can meet. Help whoever you can help out," she said.