Two honored for dedication to the Black Catholic community

BRIGHTON -- The Office of Cultural Diversity honored a Dorchester parishioner and a Roxbury parish priest at the annual Black Catholic Awards Night on Nov. 17.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley presented the two awards during a ceremony and dinner held at The Lantana in Randolph.

Pierre F. Monette Jr., honored for his dedication to serving the Black Catholic community and the community at large, received the Bishop James Augustine Healy Award. The Healy award is named for the first African American Catholic bishop in the United States, who was the bishop of Portland, Maine. The award is presented in his honor each year to a person who has demonstrated strong personal faith and provided strong and effective leadership to the Black Catholic community.

Monette serves as lector, choir member and finance committee member St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Dorchester. He is also a member of the archdiocese’s Black Catholic Choir.

A statement the from the Archdiocese of Boston’s Cultural Diversity Office annocing the award recipients described Monette as “a dedicated mentor to many young people over the years.

Monette was born in Houston, Texas and moved to Boston in 1971, graduating from Boston College High School and Boston College with a degree in political science. From there, he went to law school at the New England School of Law. He served on the Massachusetts Public Counsel of Services and at the Juvenile Justice Center of Suffolk University Law School. Additionally, he has a fifth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Also during the evening the Robert Leo Ruffin Award was presented to Father Walter Waldron, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Roxbury since 1984. The Ruffin award is named for the primary supporter of the first Black Catholic Congress, held in Washington D.C. in 1889. He worked to unify delegates on issues such as Black Catholic education and discrimination. The honor is awarded each year to an individual who fosters educational opportunities, demonstrates strong faith and compassion, and whose life reflects an active concern for the unity of the Church.

Father Waldron has “given so much to the community which he serves,” the statement said. He is actively involved with the Cape Verdean community and various other community organizations.

Father Waldron, the grandson of Irish immigrants, was ordained in 1964. His first assignment was St. Margaret Parish in Beverly Farms, and he later lived at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross until 1984. He co-founded the Pine Street Inn and helped start the South End Community Health Center. During the busing in Boston, he toured schools to spread the message of racial harmony. In addition, he sponsored the first meeting of the Office for Black Catholics and served as a delegate at the national Black Catholic Congress held in Washington.