Bishop Loverde receives Seton Award at SOAR! gala

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Bishop Paul S. Loverde, apostolic administrator of the Arlington Diocese, received the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for his leadership in the Catholic community. The award was presented Nov. 4 at the 30th anniversary gala for SOAR! — Support Our Aging Religious —at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington.

Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Renee Marek introduced the bishop, while Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Kathleen Lunsmann, SOAR! president, presented the award. 

Kevin Sexton, former president and CEO of Holy Cross Health in Silver Spring, also received the Seton Award. Philanthropist Kathleen “Denny” Hattler, who has spent nearly six decades on the board of the Loyola Foundation that benefits overseas Catholic missionary work, received the St. Katharine Drexel Award.

“I am humbled to be a recipient of the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award,” said Bishop Loverde, who noted that St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the secondary patron of the Arlington Diocese.

The bishop said he was privileged because of the wonderful Christian formation he received from religious women and men, specifically the Sisters of Mercy and the Christian Brothers.

“Whenever I’ve been in the presence of men and women religious, I tell them the debt I owe is infinite,” he said. “I can never fully repay it.”

Sue Palka, chief meteorologist for FOX5 News in Washington, served as master of ceremonies. She expressed gratitude for the Catholic education she received from the Sisters of St. Joseph in her native Erie, Pa. “My Catholic education was life-changing,” Palka said. “It provided a solid core that has guided me ever since.”

In his opening remarks, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said he was thrilled to see so many women religious in attendance. He called them a blessing and the reason for the success of so many people at the gala.

“Religious have created a living legacy in our country,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “What a beautiful gift that is for the church and the nation. We need to say thank you for what you have done.”

The cardinal extended a special note of appreciation to Bishop Loverde, who has been Arlington’s bishop for more than 17 years. “We were in seminary together and we’re still here,” he said. “He has been an example of what priestly ministry is all about.”

Proceeds for the dinner benefit SOAR!, which offered $1 million in grants in 2016 to meet the immediate needs of aging Catholic sisters, brothers and priests in 52 congregations in 17 states. The School Sisters of Notre Dame received the Rita Hofbauer Grant, which totaled $20,000.

In accepting the grant, School Sister of Notre Dame Regis Krusniewski encouraged the audience to send an email or write a card to a sister or brother who inspired their lives.

“I encourage you to make the day of an aging religious that you remember,” she said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016