Proceeds from its Gratitude Dinner is an important way that Detroit’s St. Augustine/St. Monica Parish funds its charitable and building restoration projects. The annual dinner also is a way the lower east side parish honors people and organizations who serve with distinction Detroit’s Catholic Black community and the Catholic Church of Detroit.
The winner of this year’s Mother Theresa Maxis Award, presented annually at the Gratitude Dinner, is Sacred Heart’s own Fr. Gerard Battersby, vice rector and dean of seminarian formation. According to Msgr. Daniel Trapp, St. Augustine/St. Monica’s pastor, the award committee chose Father Battersby because of his selfless service to the parish going back to his days as a Sacred Heart seminarian. Most recently, Father Battersby took time apart from his demanding seminary schedule to celebrate Mass at the parish when Monsignor Trapp was not able to.
The award also recognizes Father’s service to the Detroit parishes of St. Gerard/Immaculate Heart of Mary, Presentation/Our Lady of Victory, St. Christopher, St. Leo, and St. Mary of Redford, where currently he is pastor.
“Having been blessed countless times in praising our heavenly Father in Jesus with a parish so alive in the Holy Spirit,” Father Battersby says, “the privilege of assisting at St. Augustine/St. Monica’s over the years has been truly mine.” He says that receiving the award at the February 11 dinner “is such an honor” and is enhanced by the “sweet fragrance of the love of the parish family” that accompanies the award, a fragrance “so mingled with Jesus’ own tender love.”
The Mother Theresa Maxis Award is named after one of the founders of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) religious congregation. Mother Maxis was of mixed race of Haitian and French parentage, and was an original member of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first religious community comprised of women of color. The IHM sisters have had a strong presence in the city of Detroit and southeastern Michigan since its establishment in Monroe, Michigan, in 1845. The former parish school at St. Augustine/St. Monica (formerly St. Catherine) was staffed by IHM sisters.
Previous winners of the Mother Theresa Maxis Award have been the late Msgr. James Robinson, rector of Detroit’s Most Blessed Sacrament Cathedral; Marjorie Gabriel Burrow and the Metro Detroit Gospel Choir; Bro. Francis Boylan, executive director of Holy Cross Children’s Services; and the Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary religious community, which was founded in Detroit in 1949 with a charism to serve the needy and marginalized (faculty member Sr. Mary Finn is a community member).
An invitation to attend the Gratitude Dinner, and thereby support St. Augustine/St. Monica’s spiritual and material outreach to the surrounding neighborhood, is extended to all. Visit the parish website for more information, saintamparish.org, or call 313-921-4107. The dinner, now in its seventeenth year, is held the second Thursday of February.