On St. Brigid’s Feast Day, February 1, over 400 people gathered in Chicago’s Drake Hotel to honor women who have shown Brigid-like qualities of justice, compassion and generosity.
The Brigid Awards, now in their third year, are the brainchild of Mary Pat O’Connor, who was featured in Irish America Nov./Dec. article on professionals working overseas with the Irish aid agency, Concern Worldwide.
“We want to recognize the work of women whose sense of justice, generosity and compassion emulates that of Brigid,” says O’Connor. “This year, Brigid Awards were given to Sisters of Mercy Lucille and Roselina McKillop who has campaigned on social justice issues for the poor and disenfranchised for over 30 years.”
Guest speaker at the event was Irish historical novelist Morgan Llywelyn, while the master of ceremonies was Irish America’s Patricia Harty. Fr. Aengus Finucane, Concern’s honorary president in the U.S., spoke of the organization’s work overseas. The scheduled appearance of Concern’s Dublin-based CEO, David Begg, was cancelled as he had traveled earlier that week to witness the organization’s response to the earthquake that struck northern India.
The event raises funds for Concern’s work with children in Burundi in Central Africa. Concern is Ireland’s largest relief agency and is currently working in 26 countries across four continents.
The program in Burundi is to improve access to education for children. In some parts of the country, including the area in which Concern is operational, regional difficulties and the need for children to work meant that only one fourth of children in the province attended school. ♦