by Rick Winterson
Fr. Joseph M. White is well known in South Boston. A few years ago, Fr. Joe was the Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish at E and West Third Streets. He’s now the Pastor of the West End’s St. Joseph Parish, but we are still fortunate to see a lot of him around here. Last Thursday evening, April 26, the Laboure Center conferred their 2018 Jack Shaughnessy Service Award upon Fr. Joe at the Laboure’s 36th Annual Spring Reception. He is a devoted parish priest, who willingly serves our community in a variety of ways.
For a long time, Fr. Joe has worked on the problem of substance abuse, especially ministering to addicted people themselves and to their immediate families. In addition to his work and care as a parish priest, in recent years he has served on the Governor’s Council for Addiction. It is Fr. Joe’s strongly held opinion that the current opioid crisis is really a very serious epidemic that affects people of every age, background, and economic level. Just the overdose deaths in Massachusetts from substances like fentanyl prove that. One of Fr. Joe’s major achievements, and perhaps a key reason for the Laboure Center’s recognition of him, was the establishment of the AARPSS – the “Archdiocesan Addiction Recovery Pastoral Support Services”. This was the first such Catholic office in the entire country; Fr. Joe now directs it.
The Laboure’s Spring Reception was a joyful celebration. Approximately 400 supporters of Laboure gathered in the stunning fourth floor atrium of John Hancock Financial on Congress Street in the South Boston Seaport district. Laboure’s Executive Director Jake Bombard thanked “every single person in this room” for being there to support Laboure. He told an anecdote about how our current society rushes by emergencies, without stopping to ask, “How can I help?” He emphasized that Fr. Joe was just the opposite kind of human being. Mike Shaughnessy presented the 2018 Service Award to Fr. Joe. Mayor Marty Walsh skillfully delivered his own heartfelt remarks about Fr. Joe, labelling him as a compassionate individual, “who was not afraid to rock the boat!” True, indeed.
Fr. Joe’s remarks, in addition to expressing his thanks for the Award, mentioned his family as being a strong, guiding influence on his own life – especially his mother, who’s 95 and perhaps was the second oldest participant in the Spring Reception, after Sr. Evelyn Hurley at 103. She is visiting here from Nazareth in Kentucky.
The final activity of the evening was the sumptuous, elegant live auction, ably conducted by Tom Tinlin. Mayor Walsh assisted Tom with items concerning his office. Many performances were up for bid as well – The Bruins, Taylor Swift, Jimmy Buffet, Luke Bryan, and the Dropkick Murphys. Their lead vocalist, Ken Casey, helped auction that one off, because they’ll be putting on a concert at the House of Blues on St. Patrick’s Day in 2019. Wow!
As the evening closed, South Boston Online spoke with Sr. Maryadele Robinson, who preceded Jake Bombard as the Laboure Center’s Executive Director. She is now working part-time with families – children and the elderly – who are dealing with addiction among their own family members. She was delighted with the 2018 Spring Reception, and she feels that Laboure is headed in just the right direction.