Guest Columnist

By Father Stephen D. Thorne

I read the news paper everyday and when I watch television, it’s often a news station. Often the news that I listen to, read and watch is not very good or very inspiring.

Recently, I received some good news. Our Archdiocese was granted a bequest from a woman named Dolores Cornelius, who died this past year. The bequest was for a scholarship for African-American Catholic young people to attend a Catholic high school.

Dolores was a captain in the United States Navy who became a friend of a priest from our Archdiocese – Msgr. John Mitchell – when they both served in the military. She kept in contact with him over the years and was inspired by his love for African-Americans.

Msgr. Mitchell was legendary as a “good shepherd” to the people of West Philadelphia as pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis de Sales parishes as well as founder of St. Ignatius Nursing Home. He saw the image of Christ in the faces of African-Americans. It was precisely his goodness and priestly zeal that led Captain Cornelius to offer her life’s savings to support Catholic schools for African-Americans.

For the past year, I have been working with a committee, led by Auxiliary Bishop Robert Maginnis, to develop the Msgr. John Mitchell Memorial Scholarship Fund.

I am honored to say that four young people – African-American, active Catholics and academically gifted – were offered scholarships for this year. They are Tiana Drummond, St. Rose of Lima Parish, Philadelphia, a senior at Archbishop Carroll High School; Tyron Stinson, Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, Philadelphia, a junior at West Philadelphia Catholic High School; Wallace Weaver, St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Glenside, a junior at Bishop McDevitt High School; and Marquis Hudson, Annunciation, B.V.M. Parish, Philadelphia, a freshman at Roman Catholic High School.

All are welcome to a banquet to celebrate the scholarship fund on Sunday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel on City Avenue. Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. In addition to recognizing the bequest, we will also honor Michael O’Neill, chairman of BLOCS, Dr. Phyliss Dennery, noted Catholic physician and Darlene Spoonhour, a founding principal of St. Martin de Porres School in Germantown. Now that is good news!

To purchase tickets for the banquet, please call the Office for Black Catholics at (215) 587-3634.

Father Thorne is the archdiocesan director of the Office for Black Catholics, pastor of St. Therese Parish in Mount Airy and administrator of the Msgr. John Mitchell Scholarship Fund.