Donning blue Catholic Charities t-shirts, 18 Pierre Toussaint scholars and three of their friends recently swept floors, painted doors, washed windows and donated their time to make the Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Memorial Community Center shine.
Pierre Toussaint scholars are graduating seniors from various schools in the Archdiocese of New York who demonstrate active involvement in a church or faith community. They also score high on academic achievement. And they demonstrate a commitment to serving others, similar to the scholars’ namesake, the Venerable Pierre Toussaint.
Mr. Toussaint was born a slave in Haiti in 1766 and died a freeman in New York City in 1853. He touched the hearts of many by living his life, he said, ‘to be an apostle of goodness to everyone he met.’ He was instrumental in raising funds for the first Catholic orphanage, starting the city’s first school for black children, providing funds for the Oblate Sisters of Providence, (a religious community of black nuns), and raising funds to build the Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. With money he earned as successful entrepreneur he purchased the freedom of others instead of his own.
He was declared a “Venerable” on Dec. 17, 1997 by Pope John Paul II, for the virtuous life that he led, placing him on the path to becoming North America’s first black saint.
The students apparently lived up to their scholarship’s namesake.
“We adults are seeing the best youth come forward through the Pierre Toussaint Scholarship program,” said Catholic Charities Kennedy Center Assistant Director Ted Staniecki, “and I know my mind is at ease seeing the wonderful potential being developed for the future of our society.