An Expression of Gratitude

Our own Brigid Kennedy, president of Ursuline Ministries and longtime employee and volunteer with our ministries, was an official nominee for the 2019 ATHENA Award, bestowed by the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber. This prestigious award honors women of the Mahoning Valley “who strive toward the highest levels of professional accomplishment; women who excel in their chosen field, have devoted time and energy to their community in a meaningful way and also open doors so that others may follow in their path.”

While Brigid wasn’t chosen the for the highest honor, we are very proud of all she has accomplished on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged locally, and honored to minister alongside her.

Following is the letter she wrote after the May 16 event:


While I didn’t bring home the trophy, I was honored to be among the company of last night’s Athena nominees and the many who have come before us, including three of the women in our group! I am humbled by the support and commitment of the incredible Ursuline Ministries leadership team who nominated me and with whom I have the privilege of serving every day.

The application and follow up questions, on paper and video (!), were daunting, but gave me a chance to think about not just what I’ve done so far in my life, but who I am, what and who have formed me, and how much lies ahead to do and become. The poet Mary Oliver famously asked, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

The women honored last night are answering that question well. They are making a difference in education, health care, finance, small business, social services, community development… Mary Oliver says elsewhere, “I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world,” and there’s no danger of that for these women.

My own story is no more remarkable than that of so many of the people who have influenced and inspired me, including the Ursuline Sisters and Associates who have mentored me, the boards and staff who work alongside me, and my family and friends who have always supported me.

These people—and so many of you were in attendance—have brought me to this moment. God’s movement in my life, while not always clear to me at the time, has been through these relationships, through the abundance of love I have received, and through those we serve and love in turn. And that movement, those gifts, that love… will continue.

“Love… deeply and without patience,” says Oliver. “Let God and the world know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.” I am grateful that the committee asked us each to take the time to think about our “one wild and precious life.” I’m grateful that so many came to celebrate our answers. I’m grateful for the answers that, together, we will continue to give. And I am grateful “that the gift has been given.”

Thank you,


Members of the Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry with Brigid Kennedy, nominee and president of Ursuline Ministries, at the ATHENA Award banquet May 16, 2019. From left are Sister Kathleen Minchin, one of the ministry’s founders and its longtime director, Dan Wakefield, current director, Brigid, Terry Mitchell, clinic nurse, Kathy Austrino, volunteer, Linda Titus, children’s and family program director, Donna Bellino, secretary, Kevan Sullivan, cafe and pantries director, and Lauren Handwork, housing director.