By Dave Jolivet

MARSHFIELD, Mass. — A good friend of the Diocese of Fall River, and the former, now retired, director of the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, Claire McManus, will be receiving an award from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.

On February 9, at 6:30 p.m., during a live, virtual ceremony, McManus will be awarded the St. Katherine Drexel Pathway Award, recognizing diocesan-level initiatives. McManus was nominated for the award by Region 1 New England Diocesan Directors of Youth Ministry and chosen by the National Awards committee from several nominees.

“The problem with getting an award long after retirement is that it’s hard to remember why I deserve it,” McManus told The Anchor.

“Claire has been a tireless proponent of Comprehensive Youth Ministry,” said Louise Dussault, director, Catholic Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Providence, R.I. “Her devotion and faithfulness to completing the duties entailed give profound insight into the depth of her love for the Lord and the Church.” Dussault and McManus worked together for more than a dozen years on the New England committees.

A strong recommendation was written by McManus’ former colleague at the Office of Faith Formation, Deacon Bruce Bonneau, also now retired.

In part, Deacon Bonneau wrote, “I would outline my thoughts [about McManus] using an image of the Good Shepherd often used by Pope Francis to describe and illustrate the qualities necessary for pastoral ministry in the Church. He offers these three characteristics for good leadership. That they be ‘ahead of the sheep,’ ‘among the sheep,’ and ‘behind the sheep.’

 “Claire’s first and most important task was to set forth a common vision to unify what had become a fragmented and dysfunctional approach to those entrusted to her care. By utilizing the gifts and resources that were available and where each one of the ministries intersected and complemented one another she was able to bring collaboration that resulted in comprehensive ministry.”

He continued, “One of the most difficult and dangerous aspects of ministry is isolation and lack of self care. Caring for those who have been treated unjustly and disconnected requires a compassionate presence for leadership. Truly Claire was with all those who asked for her help and behind them in their struggles.

“Someone rightly said, ‘You can only lead people as far as you have been yourself.’ It was Claire’s deep and mature faith that brought many close to Christ by leading to them new and wondrous places, being present to others, bearing the weight of ministry and searching and caring for those who might have otherwise become lost.

“I have had the honor and privilege of knowing and working with Claire all of these years and this letter only scratches the surface of what she has provided in her ministry to the Church of Fall River and for countless others she has brought closer to the Lord.”

Kelly Goudreau, director of Parish Formation for the Diocese of Manchester, N.H. also wrote a letter of reference for McManus. “She always impressed me with her thoroughness and her clear thinking process when making financial and organizational decisions,” said Goudreau.  “She always contributed to both regional organizations, whether it be during a quarterly meeting or at an in-person gathering.  You could tell from talking with her she carried a deep passion for youth and a caring heart for their Spirituality.  She was dedicated and extremely helpful when organizing and executing the regional Convocations.”

The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry is a national organization whose mission is “to support and strengthen those who accompany young people as they encounter and follow Jesus Christ.”

According to its website, the NFCYM “looks to a future when young people see themselves as children of God who live as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ; when the gifts, struggles and diverse realities of young people are welcomed in Catholic faith communities; when ministry leaders have embraced the joy of the Gospel, and when families are living as the domestic Church.

“The NFCYM commits to advancing the field of pastoral ministry to young people by: forming, equipping, and supporting ministry leaders in their service to young people and their families; modeling and fostering a ministry of acompañamiento among young people of all cultures, languages, socioeconomic and geographic realities; and, partnering with parents and equipping families of young people as they witness to Jesus Christ in their daily lives.”

The NFCYM explains that the St. Katherine Drexel Pathway Award is given yearly to a diocesan-level initiative or innovator who:

— Inspires others by their efforts to support and strengthen those whom Christ leads;

— Collaborates at the diocesan level to illuminate the path of Christ in ministry outreach with young people;

— Advocate a comprehensive approach to ministry with young people;

— Promotes cooperative engagement with one or more diocese(s) that foster the values of the NFCYM in the afore-mentioned areas.

McManus, while having retired from the Fall River Diocese in 2020, is far from being inactive in ministry.

“I continue to serve as a lector in my parish, St. Christine’s in Marshfield, and in my retirement have been able to be more involved with the Cursillo community,” McManus told The Anchor. “I recently served on team for the November Women’s Cursillo and attend the monthly Ultreya at St. Kateri Tekawitha in Plymouth.

“I’ve always felt that ‘ministry’ is not just inside the walls. After I retired I went to work for the South Shore Autism Center, a company started by my daughter and son-in-law in 2016. It has grown to over 140 children and more than 30 clinicians. I serve as the Family & Community Specialist where I ‘minister’ to the families and staff. To prepare myself for this role I went back to school to get a Masters in Social Work from Simmons University. 

“I often reached out to colleagues for help in getting services for these families because autism crosses into many lives and knows no boundaries of race, religion or economic status. We have just opened home services to the families on the Cape, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, so I hope to tap into my network to get help finding people to staff the great need among those under-served areas.”

The 2022 National Youth Ministry Awards will be conferred at the 2022 NFCYM Annual Membership Meeting with a Virtual Reception scheduled for February 9 at 6:30 p.m. Anyone interested in seeing the Awards Presentation can use the following links. The reception Zoom will actually let you be able to join her specific Zoom room”

Award Ceremony: 6:30 p.m. (Zoom) (Youtube)

 Reception: 7 p.m.