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30th Annual Bishop Healy Dinner

Each year, the Evangelize Boston office of the Archdiocese of Boston holds the Bishop Healy Dinner. Bishop James Augustine Healy was the first African American of mixed descent that became a Roman Catholic bishop in the United States. This year’s dinner was attended by Labor Guild Executive Director Father Marc Fallon and Office Assistant Mary Gendrolis. The following summation was written by Labor Guild Boyle Fellow Bruce Tran.

Sankofa: Honor the Past, Move into the Future

This was this the theme of the 30th annual Bishop James Augustine Healy Award Dinner, held on the evening of Saturday, November 11th, 2023. Bishop James Augustine Healy- whom the award was named after- was the first African American of mixed descent that became a Roman Catholic bishop in the United States, the first African American to earn a Ph.D., and he was later president of Georgetown University. Growing up in the 19th century, he experienced discrimination due to his racial background and witnessing it firsthand through his siblings who were considered legally illegitimate and enslaved. This provided motivation and a drive for Bishop Healy to advocate for those who had no voice and who were discriminated against for what they had no control over, like those in the Black and Native American community.

The other featured award is named after Robert Leo Ruffin, which 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, demonstrated strong personal faith and compassion, and reflected in their lives active concern for the Church’s unity.

But this night was not specifically about Bishop Healey nor was it about Mr. Ruffin, rather it was about the continuing legacy of their work, inspiring others to take up causes like their own. As such, this night honored Reverend J. Bryan Hehir- Labor Guild Ex-Officio Board Member- and 2022 CGA Awardee Sister Marie “Tess” Browne, for taking up the causes that promote social justice and the Catholic faith in the Black community. There is no better way to honor the past than to learn from the mistakes of our predecessors, and to improve on what brings people together: faith, compassion, empathy, understanding and education. It takes a combination of all these things to progress into the future. Sometimes, man may stumble but it only takes that one in a thousand to take the first step forward for the less fortunate, and in the end, all of humankind.

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