By RUBY THOMAS
Record Staff Writer
The Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministry conferred its highest honor, the Acacia Award, on three of its partners March 7 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Close to 500 people gathered for the awards ceremony at the 34th annual African American Catholic Leadership Awards Banquet. The event honored a total of two dozen adults and youth.
Acacia Awards were presented to Dr. Eliza Young, a member of Christ the King Church; Brenda Fitzpatrick, director of the Northwest Area Health Education Center; and the Louisville chapter of the NAACP.
M. Annette Mandley Turner, executive director of the Office of Multicultural Ministry, said during an interview before the event, that the honorees have demonstrated a commitment to serving the needs of black Catholics.
Young has used her gifts in a multitude of ways — from teaching religious education classes to directing choirs — said Mandley Turner.
“She has a holistic view of living her stewardship. It’s done in such a way that it spills over into the Office of Multicultural Ministry,” said Mandley Turner. “She’s been an advocate for OMM since its inception, encouraging growth and challenging us to be our best. She feels connected to what this office stands for and what this office is doing.”
In accepting the award, Young said God has been her source of strength and that she’s always relied on prayer.
Fitzpatrick’s health education center partners with schools and community agencies to teach elementary, middle and high school students about careers in the medical field. The center’s Health Careers Adventure Program was previously hosted at the Catholic Enrichment Center before moving to Central High School.
“Because she was willing to come and bring her program to the CEC, young people were given opportunities they’d never have and parents were provided resources and information they wouldn’t have had,” said Mandley Turner.
Fitzpatrick said her service to the community is how she “pays it forward.”
“God left us here to be his stewards. It’s not about what they’ll say when I’m gone. It’s about what I did for the least,” said Fitzpatrick in accepting her award.
The Louisville chapter of the NAACP, the organization honored with the Acacia Award this year, has its “hand on the pulse of diverse communities not just black people,” said Mandley Turner.
“The NAACP has helped us bridge our Catholic social teaching with social obligation and responsibility around issues we need to be involved in,” she said. “They welcome us at their discussion table with civic leaders and they come to our table as an equal partner for those tough conversations we may not have all the resources to respond with.”
Raoul Cunningham, president of the Louisville chapter, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
He served on a panel addressing reparations during a January event organized by the archdiocese. He said it’s been a “great” partnership.
The NAACP will partner with the archdiocese again to register former offenders to vote. The initiative was organized after Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order restoring the right to vote to 140,000 former offenders.
During the dinner a host of other awards were presented.
Three adults received the Genevieve Boone Award. They are Valerie Boone-Johnson of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and Stephanie Harrison and Marilyn Keene of St. Monica Church in Bardstown, Ky.
Five adults received the Deacon James and Mrs. M. Annette Turner African American Catholic Leadership Award.
They are Sheila Barbour and Christopher Cooper of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Dorothy “Carol” Belser of St. Augustine Church and Stephanie Williams and Shannon Woods of St. Martin de Porres Church.
Thirteen young people received the Rodriq McCravy Award and Scholarship.
Eighth-grade recipients are: Alijah Edelen, A’Nya Ellison and Corey Mitchell of St. Martin de Porres; Destiny Morris and Arianna Pointer of Immaculate Heart of Mary; and Chidubem Ozor and Brandon Stafford of St. Albert the Great Church.
High school senior recipients are: Malka Churchill and Davis Williams of St. Augustine, Lucy Domingos of St. William Church, Jase Phillips of Holy Rosary Church in Springfield, Ky., Mikayla Pitman of Immaculate Heart of Mary and Shaun Wimberly, Jr., of St. Martin de Porres.