by Joe Bollig
LEAVEN PHOTO BY JOE BOLLIG Archdiocesan superintendent of schools Kathleen O’Hara receives the 2013 St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Award from Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann on Nov. 17 at Sacred Heart Parish in Mound City.
MOUND CITY — There’s nothing like being compared to a saint — or an archbishop’s mother — to make a person feel a little bit humble.
On Nov. 17, the vigil of the feast day of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, archdiocesan superintendent of schools Kathleen O’Hara traveled to Sacred Heart Parish in Mound City to receive the award named for the saint during a Mass.
“It truly is an honor to receive this award,” said O’Hara. “As Archbishop [Naumann] was recounting the life of Saint Rose, and Father Reggie [Saldanha] just did now, I began to shrink in the pew.”
“When the archbishop reminded us that his mother received the first award, I felt even smaller,” she continued. “By the end, I thought, ‘I think they got the wrong person.’”
Louise Naumann, the archbishop’s mother, received the first St. Rose Philippine Duchesne award in 2006. Since then, an additional seven have been so honored.
The award is given annually to an individual or community that promotes Catholic education, vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and/or devotion to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.
The award is given on behalf of the pastor and parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish, which is also a shrine to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.
Both the parish and the archbishop were quite certain they chose the right person this year.
“This year’s awardee . . . is an excellent choice,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. “No one has given more of himself or herself to promote excellence in every dimension of our Catholic schools than Dr. O’Hara, who has labored tirelessly to help the presidents, principals, faculties and staff understand and embrace that the first mission of our Catholic schools is to make lifelong disciples for Jesus Christ.”
The archbishop not only praised O’Hara for her success in her profession, but also praised her for the way she lives her faith in the vocation of Christian marriage and Christian family life.
O’Hara and her husband Jim have been married for 38 years and have five children and 13 grandchildren. Some family members were present to witness O’Hara receive the award.
The O’Haras are members of St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee.
The archbishop called her “smart and gifted,” and “a woman of prayer and faith.”
“She serves on numerous boards and makes herself available to pastors, principals, teachers and parents, but she still keeps first and primary that relationship with Christ in her own life,” said Archbishop Naumann. “It’s only the power of Our Lord working through her that explains all that she’s been able to accomplish in her service to our schools.”
Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant and homilist at the Mass and presented the award plaque to O’Hara. Pastor Father Reginald Saldanha presented a figurine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne to O’Hara as well.
A reception was held in the parish hall following the Mass.