Bishop McManus presented four people with pro-life awards on Thursday during a Mass at St. Paul Cathedral.
This year the recipients span the ages, from high school to retirement. They are Margaret Dillon of Clinton, Nancy Clark of Worcester, Paul Tighe of Grafton, and retired Bishop Daniel P. Reilly.
Two individuals who are often seen on Pleasant Street in Worcester are to receive the Mother Teresa Pro-Life Award. Why are they on Pleasant Street? That is the location of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts facility that performs abortions.
The Mother Teresa award is presented to individuals whose efforts demonstrate heroic witness to the intrinsic value of each human life, according to a press release from Allison LeDoux, director of the diocesan Respect Life Office.
Nancy Clark and Paul Tighe are to receive the award. Mrs. LeDoux said, “We are pleased to present the Mother Teresa Award to two individuals whose living faith and active service bear witness consistently to the intrinsic value of all human life.”
Mrs. Clark has been “a faithful witness to the Catholic faith and for the cause of life both personally as a wife and mother of a large family, educating her nine children in Catholic schools, and in her outreach and advocacy for the unborn and their mothers,” Mrs. LeDoux said.
Mrs. Clark has been involved in pro-life ministry at her parish, with the 40 Days for Life campaigns, and was one of the plaintiffs in McCullen vs. Coakley, the U.S. Supreme Court case which challenged the constitutionality of the Massachusetts buffer zone law. That case was decided in favor of pro-lifers’ right to free speech outside abortion facilities.
Mrs. Clark has been a volunteer sidewalk counselor for nearly a decade. “Nancy always attributes the success of these efforts to the working of the Holy Spirit,” Mrs. LeDoux said. Those who work along side her “attest to her effectiveness demonstrated by the courage and ‘holy boldness’ she exhibits. She has a particular ability and sensitivity to approach people in a friendly, respectful, and non-judgmental way and engage them in what often turns out to be a life-saving conversation,” Mrs. LeDoux said.
Not only does Mrs. Clark reach out to young women considering abortions, she talks with Planned Parenthood employees and security guards, presenting the truth in a non-confrontational manner.
The Clark family resides in Worcester and are members of Our Lady of the Angels Parish.
Mr. Tighe has been a member of the pro-life ministry of the Grafton parishes since its founding in 1999.
“His strong Catholic faith has formed and informed his vocation as husband, father, grandfather, and faithful friend to many,” Mrs. LeDoux said.
He has been involved in everything from constructing banners for pro-life displays and processions, to taking the thorns off roses for the Mother’s Day pro-life fundraiser, she noted.
He regularly contacts his elected officials advocating for policies that support life and has traveled to the State House in Boston to support traditional marriage and to oppose physician-assisted suicide.
His life-affirming ways include visiting prisoners and taking care of elderly and handicapped neighbors.
“Most especially, Paul Tighe is a man of prayer,” said Mrs. LeDoux. For example, she said that he would accompany people to late-night adoration hours so they would not have to go alone, and he would volunteer for the early morning hours of the 40 Days for Life vigils.
He can be recognized on Pleasant Street by the sign he created and holds at prayer vigils. The sign reads, “God loves you, Mom and Dad.”
The Ruth V. K. Pakaluk Pro-Life Youth Award is given to a young person who exemplifies the values and witness to human life. The 2017 recipient is Margaret Dillon, a senior at Trivium School in Lancaster and a member of St. John, Guardian of Our Lady Parish in Clinton. She “is passionately pro-life,” according to Mrs. LeDoux.
She is active in her school community, a dedicated and conscientious student, and participates in co-curricular activities and athletic teams.
Miss Dillon has been the president of Trivium School’s Pro-Life Club for the past two years and student coordinator for the school’s participation in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. This past January the school filled one bus and part of another.
“Margaret’s leadership abilities were very impressive as she carefully attended to the many details involved, including carrying out fundraisers, obtaining chaperones, and overseeing finances and registration” for the March, Mrs. LeDoux said.
She plans to attend Thomas Aquinas College next fall.
Bishop Reilly is this year’s recipient of The Gospel of Life Award. This award is named after St. John Paul II’s encyclical “‘Evangelium vitae,’ which is known as one of the Church’s most definitive works on the dignity of the human person and on the intrinsic value of every human life from conception to natural death,” Mrs. LeDoux said.
Bishop Reilly is a native of Providence, where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1953. He was named Bishop of the Diocese of Norwich, Conn., by Pope Paul VI in 1975, and was named Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, retiring in 2004.
“Having grown up as the sixth of nine children in a faithful Catholic household, his pro-life convictions were nurtured from his youth, as he witnessed the faith and loving sacrifices made by parents who welcomed the blessing of each new member of the family,” Mrs. LeDoux said.
During his time as Bishop of Worcester, Bishop Reilly brought to fruition the late Ruth Pakaluk’s vision of a home for unwed mothers. Bishop Reilly assembled pro-life advocates and social service providers to establish Visitation House which opened in 2005.
An active member and state chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, Bishop Reilly advocated and participated in the Knights pro-life mission, including their initiative to provide a life-saving ultrasound machine to Problem Pregnancy. For many years he celebrated the Knights of Columbus’ annual Pro-Life Mass.
Bishop Reilly expanded the pro-life ministry in the diocese from a part-time Respect Life Office to a full-time department in 2003. He also promoted the renewal of the diocese’s Project Rachel ministry.
“Bishop Reilly has lived out the Gospel of Life in many ways throughout his priestly life and ministry. We are grateful for the many years in which he has been such a strong defender of Life through prayer, education, advocacy, and pastoral care, and the zeal with which he reminds us that as Catholics, in all we do, we are always pro-life,” Mrs. LeDoux said.