Roxbury parishioner receives annual Healy Award

BRAINTREE -- Alvin Shiggs, a parishioner at St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Roxbury, was presented with this year's Bishop James Augustine Healy Award last month at the Bishop Healy Award Dinner at the Boston Marriott Quincy in Quincy.

Presenting the award was Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hennessey.

The annual Bishop James Augustine Healy Award is given to a person who has demonstrated strong leadership and service within the Black Catholic community.

Bishop Healy was the first African-American Roman Catholic bishop in the United States and the second bishop of the Diocese of Portland, Maine. He was a native of Macon, Ga. He studied at a Sulpician seminaries in Montreal and Paris. In 1854, he was ordained a priest of the then-Diocese of Boston at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Shiggs helps organize numerous outreach programs at his Roxbury parish, including the parish food pantry, ministry to youth and young adults, and walks in which parishioners walk in the neighborhoods surrounding St. Mary's Parish to foster a sense of community.

He has also been involved in first-time homebuyer programs in the parish.

A native of Georgia, Shiggs has been a parishioner at St. Mary's for about 30 years. He was raised in the African Methodist Episcopal tradition but converted to Catholicism after enrolling at St. Mary's.

Shiggs and his wife, Maria Quiroga, were profiled in The Pilot's "Living the Faith" feature in May 2008.