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Priest, sister honored for service to black Catholic community

By Pilot Staff
Posted: 11/27/2009

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Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley presents the 2009 Healy Award to Father Russell Best at the Nov. 21 award dinner at The Lantana in Randolph. Pilot photo/ Courtesy Office of Black Catholics

RANDOLPH -- On Nov. 21 Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley presented the Bishop James Augustine Healy award to Father 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. The award is given in honor of the legacy of the first recognized black bishop in the United States.

Bishop Healy was the first African-American bishop in the United States, the second bishop of Portland, Maine, and a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston.

The Healy Award is presented to an individual who has exemplified strong, effective leadership and service within the black Catholic community.

That same evening, Sister Mary Hart, RGS, received the Robert L. Ruffin Award for helping young people in the Roxbury area receive a quality education through the after school program which she has built and developed at what was then St. Philip-St. Francis Parish in Roxbury. Now, she is engaged in similar ministry at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Roxbury. The award is presented in honor of a prominent black Catholic dedicated to the education of children and the eradication of injustice.

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.