There was a moment at last Saturday’s African American Catholic Leadership Awards banquet that brought a bit of moisture to the eyes of many who were there.
It came when Deacon John and Genevieve Churchill were presented their 2021 Acacia Awards, the highest honor the 34th annual awards dinner presented. The Churchills, both at their dinner table in wheelchairs, spoke briefly when they received their honors.
Deacon Churchill noted that when times were troubling, he and his wife could always rely on their faith in the Lord to see them through.
“Good times or bad, God has always been there for us,” he said.
But it was his wife who produced the evening’s most dramatic moment. Speaking softly and with a great deal of emotion, Genevieve Churchill thanked God for the “freedom you have given me through my faith.”
“And I want to add, want to let everyone here know,” she said, through a few tears, “that yesterday, August 13, John and I celebrated our 66th wedding anniversary.”
With that, the majority of the nearly 400 people at the Galt House event rose in applause for the couple from St. Augustine Church. And they also acknowledged with applause and affection Acacia Award winners James and Rita Holman of St. Martin de Porres Church, who were celebrating their 50th anniversary that night.
Other Acacia Award winners were Robert A. Jackson of Christ the King Church and Amy Olson of Sacred Heart Schools. Jackson told the crowd that he was “overwhelmed” by his award and added that he was grateful for all of those “who have supported me over the years who are here tonight.”
“I would like to tell you, too, that when you visit around the country and talk to those involved with African American ministry, the name you hear is Annette Turner,” he said. “We might have been a bit late getting our ministry started here, but Annette Turner has done more than put us on the map. She’s established the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministries as the gold standard.”
The event provided a refreshing bit of fellowship after the banquet was postponed earlier this year due to COVID-19. There was no keynote speaker, though Dr. Laura Dills, president of Presentation Academy, offered comments about the benefits of diversity and the history of her school.
“At Presentation, 35 percent of our students are young Blacks, Asian, Latina or multi-racial,” she said, noting that the diversity was one of the school’s greatest strengths.
“We welcome students from all zip codes,” she noted. And she added that her diverse school consistently produces “doctors, lawyers, playwrights, principals and teachers.”
Together, she said, people who are brave enough can produce great things. “We must continue to be brave, continue to be the light,” she said.
Armonté Dominique Snodgrass of St. Martin de Porres Church was one of five high school students to receive the 2021 Rodriq McCravy Scholarship awards. In brief acceptance remarks he noted that he “was one of the lucky ones able to attend Catholic schools from a young age until now.”
The St. Xavier High School freshman added that “Catholic schools are not just preparing me for college, they’ve prepared and are preparing me for life.”
Other McCravy high school award winners were Kyra Thomas of St. Thomas More Church; Tussangue J. Domingos of St. William Church; Ahmad Payne-Jones of Immaculate Heart of March Church; and Victoria Alyse Wimberly of St. Martin de Porres Church.
McCravy College Scholarship award winners were Jenna Hayden and Grant Johnson of St. Monica Church in Bardstown, Ky.; Kenneth Domingos of St. William Church; Darryn Kenneth Schneiders of Mary Queen of Peace Church; Anastasia Shemwell of Christ the King Church; and Indaria Schenell Spalding and Já Vontae Aloysius Wright of Holy Rosary Church in Springfield, Ky.
During the banquet, adults in the community were also recognized for their contributions. They are:
Kimberly Hickman of St. Monica Church and Deloise Logan received 2021 Genevieve Boone Awards, given to those who “exhibit a high level of commitment to their faith and to the African American community.”
Winners of the Deacon James and Mrs. M. Annette Turner African American Catholic Adult Leadership Awards were presented to six people honored for their impact “in touching and changing lives. … To bring about a greater awareness of Christ’s presence in our African American community and church.”
Those honored were Andrew M. Boone and Denise Bivens of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church; W. Kay Frazier and Carolyn Moore of Christ the King Church; Michele Harbin of St. Augustine Church; and Deloris A. White of Good Shepherd Church.