On Aug. 3, 2019 during its Jubilee Weekend, Maryknoll Lay Missioners proudly conferred its first annual Bishop McCarthy Spirit of Mission Awards on lay missioners who exemplify an outstanding dedication to the spirit of mission after their return to the United States from their overseas mission commitments.
The first recipients of the award are Cathy Breen (Class of 1989) and Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds (Class of 1994). The Jubilee Weekend is an annual event for classes of missioners celebrating reunions divisible by 5 years (i.e., 10th, 15th, 20th, etc. anniversaries).
Cathy Breen went to Bolivia in 1986, where she witnessed the “U.S. war on drugs,” documenting the effects of forced eradication of coca growers’ crops. For about eight of the ten years in Bolivia, Cathy served as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner. Returning to the United States in 1996, Cathy joined the Catholic Worker movement as a live-in volunteer in one of the New York City houses of hospitality, where she continues to live and serve.
In 2002 she traveled to Iraq as part of a small peace team at the invitation of Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness. There she witnessed first-hand the consequences of the 2003 U.S.-led “War on Terror.” She was in Baghdad during the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign and has followed the plight of Iraqi refugees fleeing war in Jordan, Syria and Turkey, revisiting Iraq to witness the reality Iraqis are suffering currently.
While deeply involved in the Catholic Worker, Maryknoll remains part of her extended community. Born in 1948 in Philadelphia into a Navy family, Cathy moved around as a child. In her mid-20s, she lived in Germany as part of an ecumenical community, the Jesus-Bruderschaft, for about seven years.
Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds served as a Maryknoll lay missioner for five years in Venezuela, working in community outreach and development. She also founded a music group in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, made up of children ages 6 to 13 years.
Upon her return to the U.S. in 2000, Wynnie-Fred worked as the Eastern Regional Recruiter with Maryknoll. Throughout the years, she has been involved with environmental issues in New Jersey. The Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and the Municipal City Council appointed her as a commissioner to the Newark Environmental Commission, where she serves as co-chair.
She is a board member of New Jersey Clean Water Action, board trustee of New Jersey Highlands Coalition and a social justice advocate. She is also the community outreach and engagement manager for the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions. As a consultant for the United Nations Population Fund, she traveled to Egypt to evaluate and monitor the fund’s Global Youth Partnership Program.
Wynnie-Fred is the executive director of her own non-profit, Stepping Stones Resources, and her Independent Consulting Business. SSR Consulting Group. She focuses on community engagement and organizing to get people involved in the decision-making process to find tangible and long-term solutions to issues that affect our environment, health and quality of life.
In celebration of International Women’s Month, March 2019, she curated the art show “Fragile Threads: In Search of Authenticity and Liberation” at the Bethany Arts Center in Ossining, New York. The exhibition showcased the works of female artists from the U.S. and Latin America. She currently resides in Newark with her husband, Darold.
The Bishop McCarthy Spirit of Mission Award is named after the late Bishop John E. McCarthy, the third bishop of the Diocese of Austin, Texas. Bishop McCarthy, who died on Aug. 18, 2018, was an indefatigable promoter and supporter of mission throughout his life. He initially came to know Maryknoll through Maryknoll Father Bill Woods, with whom he shared a friendship that began in the seminary. Father Woods served in Guatemala advocating for poor and marginalized people until he was killed in 1976. When Bishop McCarthy’s close friend, Rhonda Paver, joined the board of directors of Maryknoll Lay Missioners, he was elated. He became an ardent supporter of Maryknoll Lay Missioners, as it blended his dedication to mission, laity in the church, and Catholic Social Teaching.
He was fond of quoting St. James, “By our works you will know us.”
Bishop McCarthy was known for his social justice and advocacy work. He helped write a policy statement on poverty that became the framework for the Campaign for Human Development. He served on the board of Catholic Relief Services, helping to strengthen the organization. His initiatives in the Diocese of Austin included the Diocesan Law Project to provide legal services to low-income families, the Office for Parish Social Ministry, and the Gabriel Project to aid women with unexpected pregnancies. In 2013 he published a collection of his writings under the title Off the Cuff and Over the Collar: Common Sense Catholicism (Greenhills)
Maryknoll Lay Missioners plans to give the new award yearly to returned missioners from its jubilee reunion classes.
For more information on the Bishop McCarthy Spirit of Mission Award or the Jubilee Weekend, please contact Debbie Northern at 914-236-3476.