Representatives from St. Patrick Parish in Enfield pose for a photo. From left in front row are Carolina Chavez, Daniel Llanas, Maria Llanas and Noe Charles; from left in back row are Armondo Chavez, Paul Chambers, Rita Aranda and Maria Aguirre. See correspondent Lenora Sumsky's other photos from this event at right.
Archbishop Henry Mansell expressed gratitude to those gathered at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville who work and advocate for social justice both nationally and internationally. "[There is] tremendous mind power that you bring and spirit that you bring in so many different ways. I am so grateful to you all, each one, each person representing so much by the way of commitment to social justice [and] social ministries; you enrich the diocese, enrich the community and the world.
"You continue to make it real, not just on paper but with real actions that you perform and you provide," he went on. "I’m here to thank you all for the great, great work you do. You have the brains and you have the spirit. Thank you all so very much."
The archbishop presented three awards to acknowledge one individual and two organizations for their dedication to social justice ministry. Frederick J. Perella Jr. received the Most Reverend Joseph F. Donnelly Award. The Donnelly Award for an organization was accepted on behalf of St. Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale University in New Haven by Father Robert Beloin, chaplain, and Katie Byrnes, assistant chaplain.
A new award, the Charlie Schlegel Award for Cooperative Parish Sharing, went to St. Patrick Parish in Enfield. Father John Weaver, pastor, and Noe Charles, parish social ministry chair, accepted the award, which was established this year to honor Dr. Schlegel and to recognize parish projects that exemplify the mission of Cooperative Parish Sharing.
Dr. Schlegel was one of the founding members of the Cooperative Parish Sharing committee and volunteered for that committee for 40 years until his retirement in 2010. T
Through Cooperative Parish Sharing, parishes make voluntary contributions to a fund that awards grants for projects supportive of low-income parishes to meet vital needs of their communities.
St. Patrick Parish was recognized for its commitment to meeting the spiritual and physical needs of Enfield’s migrant community through its Hispanic outreach program. The program ministers to approximately 250 migrant workers who toil in the tobacco fields during spring and summer.
The program holds weekly Masses at the work site and provides Bibles, rosaries and sacramental preparation for interested workers. In 2010, 10 workers received the sacrament of confirmation. Besides also serving meals and providing toiletries, the program has an attorney who assists with legal issues related to immigration.
Mr. Perrella was the executive director of the Office of Social Justice Ministry when it was called the Office of Urban Affairs (the name was changed in 2009) and worked for social justice for more than four decades.
He was the executive vice president and vice president of proactive grants for the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, and worked on several boards, committees and faculties and wrote for several publications.
The St. Thomas More Chapel and Center, the anchor for the largest religious student group at Yale University, was honored for its efforts to promote social justice. Students assist disadvantaged children with tutoring services, work to protect the environment, and support immigration rights.
Among other initiatives, students have supported statewide efforts to eliminate the death penalty and have joined a national coalition to abolish torture. They plan to raise awareness of human trafficking worldwide.
Prior to the award presentations, keynote speaker Mary DeLorey, Catholic Relief Services’ strategic issues advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean region, spoke about international migration and human trafficking.
She said that four factors can make people particularly vulnerable to human traffickers: economic conditions; migration; such social factors as the lower status of women; and emergencies, either natural disasters or conflicts
SOUTHINGTON – The 43rd anniversary dinner and awards event sponsored by the Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry brought together nearly 350 people for a program designed to inspire and encourage Catholics who work to serve those in need and to change structures that deny people their dignity and rights as children of God.