By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
More than 500 people gathered at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Louisville March 7 to celebrate at the 28th annual African American Catholic Leadership Awards Banquet.
The event — sponsored by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministry (OMM) — honored 14 adults and six young people for their work and leadership in the community.
M. Annette Mandley-Turner, executive director of the OMM, noted that, over the years, the event has taken on the feel of a family gathering.
“The banquet has continued to reflect the importance of family. It has become a family reunion for many people,” she said, noting that some travelled from as far away as California to attend the event. “This says a lot about their Catholic roots.”
Father Christopher S. Rhodes, associate pastor of St. Patrick Church, delivered the event’s keynote address, in which he thanked those gathered for embracing him like family. He challenged them to let go of negativity and instead to hold on to “the promises of God.”
Father Rhodes called on each person at the event to turn their backs on anger, apathy and useless complaining. He invited them, instead, to allow the support and love of church families to uplift and propel them to make a difference.
He used his experiences, as an example, telling them that had he fallen into the trap of negativity and anger he would not have become a priest.
“I would not be before you today had I not held on to the love, support and affirmations you gave me as a seminarian,” he added.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who gave closing remarks at the event, reminded those present that they are a family in the one body of Christ. Though family members tend to take each other for granted, he said, they need each other.
The archbishop also noted that faith and family were the recurring themes in the acceptance speeches given by those who were honored at the banquet.
The archbishop commended the honorees and the attendees for keeping things in perspective.
“Thank God you and your family has preserved the right order of things,” he said. “Family, faith and trust in God is at the center of life. When you lose that, you lose everything.”
During the event, 12 adults received African American Leadership Awards from the OMM. Award recipients are:
Dillard Baker Jr., Debra F. Bullock, Peggy Maddox and JoAnn Orr of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church; John Evans, Kim Telesford-Mapp and Tianna Barnes-Palmer of St. Martin de Porres Church; Shawna Hazelwood of Holy Rosary Church in Springfield, Ky.; Ruby Inez Hyde of St. Louis Bertrand Church; Carmen Weathers-Washington of Christ the King Church; Debra Williams of St. Monica Church in Bardstown, Ky.; and Velma Yocum of St. Augustine Church.
Mandley-Turner said the banquet committee decided to present the Acacia Award, presented annually, to two individuals. The award, named after the resilient tree that grows in Africa, was established to “recognize an individual or organization for their years of service, support and fidelity to the African American Catholic community,” a release from the OMM said.
This year’s honorees are Therese Wilson-Favors, professor of catechesis at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Father Wayne Carroll Paysse, executive director of the Black and Indian Missions Office in Washington, D.C. Due to inclement weather, Father Paysse was not able to attend the award ceremony. He will receive his award next year, according to Mandley-Turner.
Six young people received Rodriq McCravy Awards, which grant scholarship money for recipients to use for high school and college.
The recipients of the high school scholarship awards are Alexis Cammack and Brysen Little of St. Augustine.
The recipients of the college scholarship awards are Terrence Isaiah Churchill and Jazzlin Linton of Holy Rosary; Ashley Henry of St. Martin de Porres and Brandee King of Immaculate Heart of Mary.