WILMINGTON — After a COVID-induced break of nearly 18 months, Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Wilmington finally was able to gather a crowd together at the Chase Center on the Riverfront on Oct. 6 to honor both the 2020 and 2021 recipients of the Msgr. Thomas J. Reese Award for their work on behalf of the less fortunate.
Much has changed since Michael J. Hare was named the 2020 winner and Bishop Malooly the 2021 recipient. Hare, an executive with Buccini/Pollin Group, which helped build the Chase Center and other structures along the Wilmington riverfront, mentioned that his mother, Joan, died in February of this year, so she did not live to see him receive the award. And between the time Bishop Malooly was selected for the Msgr. Reese Award and the dinner where it was given out, the Diocese of Wilmington welcomed a new bishop.
Msgr. Steven Hurley, vicar general of the Diocese of Wilmington, introduced Bishop Malooly. All of us, he said, are lucky to have mentors, and Bishop Malooly was a mentor to him, as well as a good friend and example of leadership. Too often during his priestly ministry, the bishop’s assignment was to clean up messes made by other people. But he never complained.
“I never once witnessed him have a bad day,” Msgr. Hurley said. “He was always in a good mood.”
Msgr. Hurley said three attributes about Bishop Malooly stand out: his hope, patience and humility. The retired bishop always sees the best in others, and he doesn’t really enjoy being in the spotlight.
“I know he is uncomfortable right now,” Msgr. Hurley said. “You have been a wonderful example to all of us.”
With that, the crowd rose and gave Bishop Malooly an extended standing ovation.
Bishop Malooly’s remarks were short and focused on the work of others, not himself. He began by saying how happy he is that the diocese received Bishop Koenig, then shifted into praise for the work done by Catholic Charities. He mentioned its leadership, board of directors, employees and volunteers.
Of all the programs and facilities run by Charities, he said, Bayard House is his favorite. He said he loved to visit the home for expecting and new mothers and called it a shining example of pro-life ministry in the diocese.
The bishop also congratulated Hare, citing his tremendous influence on the city of Wilmington, St. Elizabeth Parish and Catholic education.
Before turning the microphone over to Bishop Koenig, Bishop Malooly thanked Catholic Charities and the crowd “for the honor this evening. And I am embarrassed.”
Hare received his award before Bishop Malooly. He was introduced by longtime friend and fellow Archmere graduate Brian McGlinchey, who said Hare “literally sees the face of Christ in all of us.” His entire life, McGlinchey said, has been in service to others.
“He sees people in need and wants to make their lives better,” he said.
Hare said he grew up with a lot of role models and an inability to say no when institutions he believes in ask for help.
“I never accomplished anything in my life by myself. I’m standing here because of these people,” he said.
He noted that he wouldn’t have lived to see this night had it not been for two kidney transplants. The second of those occurred two years ago, and the donor, former Archmere principal John Jordan, was in attendance. Jordan and Hare graduated from Archmere a year apart.
Hare serves on the diocesan pastoral council and on the vocations admissions board for the diocese. He has been president of the St. Elizabeth parish council and chair of the annual Feast of St. Elizabeth celebration. The list of community organizations and schools with which he is involved is long. He also serves as executive vice president for development for the Buccini/Pollin Group and thanked Rob and Chris Buccini and their wives for coming to the dinner.
“This is a caring community, and I’m proud to be one small part of it,” he said.
Hare also praised Bishop Malooly and Bishop Koenig, who was standing several feet to Hare’s right during the ceremony. He told Bishop Koenig how impressive his ordination and installation Mass at St. Elizabeth Church was, then he mentioned that 10 days later he turned on a Philadelphia Phillies game against the New York Mets and saw the bishop – a Mets fan – sitting in the front row behind home plate.
Bishop Koenig later told the crowd that since both the Phillies and Mets missed the postseason, they could be “brothers” in that sense.
The bishop said it was a privilege to work with Bishop Malooly for the past few months.
“Thank you very much for your friendship and your support over these months,” he said.
He also praised the work of Catholic Charities and said he had been able to visit several of the sites it operates in Delaware and Maryland. He said the executive director, Fritz Jones, has been a wealth of knowledge as they travel to and from these locations. He said the work would not be possible without the employees and volunteers.
“As I met them, as I went around these past couple months, their dedication really is inspirational,” he said.
He also referred to that day’s Gospel reading about the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus teaches them the Our Father, which mentions the daily bread. Bishop Koenig thanked the benefactors “for sharing some of your bread with other people, people who are in need.”