Editor’s note: Franciscan Mission Service is very pleased to name Stonehill College senior Mary Grace Donohoe the winner of this year’s San Damiano Servant Leadership Award.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
“Christ calls us in the Beatitudes to be peacemakers—not just to exist in peaceful societies—[and that] is transformative,” says Mary Grace Donohoe. About to complete a degree in International Relations and Religious Studies at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, Mary Grace is on fire about her faith, service, and being a peacemaker in her daily life. FMS is proud to announce Mary Grace as our third San Damiano Servant Leadership Award recipient.
This year’s awardee served on a water-production project with HOPE, Stonehill’s service immersion program in Chacraseca, Nicaragua, where she created a structure that was locally-staffed to empower the community and ensure the project’s sustainability. Working and living alongside migrant farm workers in Apopka, Florida, Mary Grace was inspired by their generosity and courage, saying, “There is a tremendous amount of strength that you don’t really see in many communities when your your life isn’t on the line for your children, your job, or for your family.” Most recently, Mary Grace worked as an administrative assistant at Bridge Women’s Support Center in Queens, New York, where she connected low-income families with food and shelter resources.
Everywhere she has served, Mary Grace has been continually inspired by the people she accompanies. These experiences have called her to raise awareness and bring others into active service. She believes, “Catholics need to be engaged in peace-building; human dignity can only come in acts of solidarity. You can’t acknowledge somebody’s dignity if you don’t know anything about them.”
Mary Grace sees her Catholic faith as integral to her service and justice work: “Jesus never asked for the minimum; He never asked for power; He asked for solidarity, and He asked for accompaniment with suffering communities, and that’s what [being Catholic] means to me.”
The San Damiano Servant Leadership Award honors a dedicated, faithful, service-oriented young leader answering God’s call to St. Francis of Assisi to “rebuild the Church.” It was launched during FMS’ 25 th anniversary as yet another way to encourage compassionate servant leaders dedicated to building the kingdom of heaven on earth today.
Mary Grace will receive the award at our Annual World Care Benefit and Celebration on May 5, 2017, in Washington, DC. While in DC, Mary Grace will be given the opportunity to meet, talk, and network with organizations and individuals working in the areas of peace-building and international conflict -resolution. She plans to use the $500 scholarship money towards a service experience she is leading with a group of students the day after her graduation.
Those wishing to commend Mary Grace on her award can purchase a congratulatory message to be published in our Annual Event program—submission deadline by April 19, 2017.