.- A priest and a religious sister of Massachusetts have been honored for their service to the black Catholic community. On Nov. 21 Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley presented the Bishop James Augustine Healy Award to Fr. Russell Best, former pastor of St. John-St. Hugh Church in Boston and former chaplain for the Division of Youth Services, Matignon High School and Cathedral High School.
The award which bears Bishop Healy’s name honors him as the first African-American bishop in the United States. The bishop, who lived from 1830 to 1900, was the second bishop of Portland, Maine and a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston.
The Healy Award is presented to an individual who has exemplified strong, effective leadership and service in the black Catholic community, the Boston Pilot reports.
Also honored was Sr. Mary Hart, RGS. She received the Robert L. Ruffin Award for helping young people in the Roxbury area receive a quality education though the after school program she developed at St. Phillip-St. Francis Parish in Roxbury. She is now engaged in similar service at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Roxbury.
The award’s namesake, Robert Leo Ruffin, was a prominent black Catholic from Boston and one of the main supporters of the first Black Catholic Congress held in Washington, D.C. in 1889.