The 2016 People of Life Awards were given on August 8 to a medical doctor and two diocesan pro-life directors – a retired lay woman and a priest – for their lifetime commitment to pro-life work during the annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, presented the awards to Mary Boyert, Dr. Michael J. Brescia, and Fr. L. William Carmody (posthumously). Over 125 diocesan, state, and national Catholic pro-life leaders and guests from across the country attended the private awards dinner in Rye, New York, sponsored by the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.
Mary Boyert was recognized for her work defending human dignity from conception to natural death, culminating in her sixteen years as director of the Respect Life Ministry in the Archdiocese of Atlanta (1999-2015). After Roe v. Wade legalized abortion throughout the U.S., she devoted her energies to the pro-life cause. She helped in the passage of all abortion-related legislation in Georgia for over 35 years – first with Georgia Right to Life Committee, and then with the archdiocese. She also worked to uphold the dignity of other vulnerable groups, including embryonic humans, victims of sex trafficking, terminally ill patients, and prisoners – and helped form Georgia Catholics Against the Death Penalty. She continues her pro-life witness now in retirement, enjoying time with her family, especially her three grandchildren.
Michael J. Brescia, M.D., was recognized for his life-long work as a pro-life physician and health care advocate. Dr. Brescia earned his M.D. from Georgetown University in 1958. In 1966, Dr. Brescia and his colleague invented the groundbreaking Brescia-Cimino Arteriovenous Fistula to treat kidney patients with dialysis, a medical technology still used to save lives. At the peak of his success, Dr. Brescia gave away the invention to devote his life to palliative care (pain relief and comfort care) for abandoned patients with terminal cancer. He is co-founder and Executive Medical Director of Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, NY, the only fully accredited acute care specialty hospital in the country providing care for adults with advanced cancer and other diseases. An advocate for those who are sick and dying, he is featured in a Patients Rights Action Fund video against assisted suicide, saying that doctors often are mistaken about their patients’ life expectancies, and that “suicide is not medical treatment.” Dr. Brescia serves on the Pro-Life Commission of the Archdiocese of New York.
Finally, the Secretariat honored Fr. L. William (“Bill”) Carmody posthumously for his tireless, joy-filled pro-life service in the Diocese of Colorado Springs. “For more than 25 years, he was a warrior for the unborn,” said Bishop Michael Sheridan. “That is his legacy.” Ordained a priest in 1990, Father Carmody was moved to care for those suffering after abortion early in his parish work. He was soon named the first Respect Life director of the diocese; and in 1994, he introduced the Church’s post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel, and nurtured its expansion over two decades. That same year, Father Carmody started celebrating weekly Masses in front of the local Planned Parenthood abortion facility. In 2008, he helped start the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil to end abortion. Even as he battled cancer for years, Father Carmody
continued his pro-life work until his death in February of 2016. Fr. Carmody’s co-worker and friend, Rhonda Miller, accepted the People of Life Award on his behalf.
The People of Life Award recognizes Catholics who have answered the call outlined by Pope Saint John Paul II in The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae, 1995), dedicating themselves to pro-life activities and promoting respect for the dignity of the human person. It is bestowed in honor of their significant and longtime contributions to the culture of life.
Boyert, Brescia, and Carmody join 28 other People of Life Award recipients since the Pro-Life Secretariat inaugurated the award in 2007.
More information on previous recipients and on the People of Life campaign is available at: www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/people-of-life/people-of-life-award.cfm