August 28, 2006

Education Awards

Sister M. Noel Menezes - Leadership Award

The Conference for Mercy Higher Education Leadership Award is presented to a Sister of Mercy, Mercy Associate or lay partner in the ministry of higher education at a Mercy-sponsored institution who has been active in higher education and made considerable contributions over a significant period of time.

This year’s recipient, Sister M. Noel Menezes is a Sister of Mercy from Guyana and a member of the Dallas regional community. Noel has a long and distinguished career in higher education. After completing a BA in History at College Misericordia, Dallas, Pa., she graduated summa cum laude with a Masters in Latin American History from Georgetown University in Washington, DC and subsequently earned a PhD in History from University College of London, England. For more than 40 years, Noel taught and lectured in colleges and universities throughout the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Europe, India and the United States.

A prolific writer and an internationally renowned Caribbean scholar, Noel has done extensive research in the main archives of London, Holland, Portugal, Madeira and the US, publishing nearly a dozen books about Amerindians and their relationships to other cultures. Noting that research is an acquired skill and that students need to learn how to do research well, Noel initiated a research methodology at the University of Guyana that prepares students to write not only their research papers but also theses using her two textbooks. In addition, she has authored numerous articles, reviews, monographs, papers and lectures—the titles of which are enough to fill six pages, single-spaced.

Noel’s most demanding work, perhaps, was her thirty-five years of service at St. John Bosco Orphanage for Boys, ages 2-16, in Guyana where she would read stories to the children in the early evening then go home to check Masters theses for her students. “I never regretted it,” she remarked.

Noting that young men from 16 to 21 need even more care, guidance than younger boys, Noel opened Mercy Boys Home in 2000 to provide that support for young men leaving the orphanage.

Sister Noel Menezes amply fulfills CMHE criteria for the Leadership Award in every category: teaching; research/publication; artistic, cultural, intellectual activity; program development; administration; community relations and empowering others to achieve.

Sister Fidelis McDonough - Catherine McAuley Award

The Catherine McAuley Award (billed as the Frances Warde Medal in the call for nominations), honors a program that embodies the vision of Catherine McAuley and the commitment of the Sisters of Mercy to persons in need, particularly women and children.

Sister Fidelis McDonough champions outreach efforts to the largely African-American community in Pittsburgh’s West Oakland and Oak Hill neighborhoods adjacent to the Mercy motherhouse and Carlow University. She is this year’s recipient of the Catherine McAuley Award.

A Sister of Mercy from the Regional Community of Pittsburgh, Fidelis is the director of Mercy Neighborhood Ministries (MNM), which was founded in 1999 as a collaborative ministry of the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow University and its Campus School. MNM serves one of the city’s most at risk neighborhoods where single women head more than 75 percent of households, the majority of teenage girls are vulnerable to early pregnancy, substance abuse, unemployment, vandalism, crime and violence are rampant.

MNM helps families in need to apply for and receive the help they need from public and private agencies. Older women of the neighborhood, along with Fidelis, created WOWO—West Oakland Women’s Outreach—a unique group of women who seek out the hidden elderly of the neighborhood and encourage participation in a variety of spirited social activities.

MNM’s mentoring program pairs Carlow students with neighborhood teens. Working collaboratively with Breachmenders, a multi-faceted United Way agency, MNM and Carlow support the School to Career program for neighborhood teenagers who want to improve their literacy, math and computer skills.

Carlow offers children attending the neighborhood’s New Beginnings Learning Center an after school Sports Clinic in which University athletes teach children basic skills in five sports—softball, volleyball, basketball, tennis and soccer. Tae Kwon Do classes develop self-esteem among a mixed group of children from neighborhood schools and the Campus School at Carlow University.

The model is simple: in the spirit of the Gospel, be a good neighbor. Mercy Neighborhood Ministries establishes key partnerships and collaborations not only with Carlow University and the Sisters of Mercy, but also with local churches and national and local nonprofit organizations whose service will benefit the neighbors in Oak Hill and West Oakland. Fidelis provides the inspirational leadership, envisions what it can be and nurtures the Mercy roots of the organization.

Messages to Ethel Bignell rsm MIA Administrator

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