CV NEWS FEED // The Catholic diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas last weekend presented a prestigious award to local Catholic Rosalyn Pruitt “for more than 33 years serving her parish community and with Black Catholics across the country.”
Pruitt received the Daniel Rudd Award during the 37th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Mass at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock, Arkansas on January 13, reported Katie Zakrezewski, associate editor of the diocesean newspaper Arkansas Catholic. Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock celebrated Mass.
Pruitt, who has dedicated several decades in service to the Church and her community, told Arkansas Catholic how surprised she was to learn she would receive the award. “I was shocked when I heard I was being honored this year. I opened the envelope and said, ‘What? What?!’ I almost hit the floor,” Pruitt said.
The award presented to Pruitt is named after Daniel Rudd, “a former slave who spent much of his life in Marion (Crittenden County), [who] increased the popularity of Catholicism among African-Americans,” Zakrenzewski wrote. “He organized several of the first Black Catholic conferences while publishing the American Catholic Tribune.”
Little Rock diocesean priest Father Warren Harvey told Arkansas Catholic that Rudd’s “insight was that the spirit of Catholicism would unite people around the world, and he sought to promote his faith especially among Black people.”
“The purpose of this award is to recognize an African-American Catholic layperson — a person who has exhibited the same love for their faith and leadership throughout their Church and the community in general,” Harvey said.
Harvey is the bishop’s liaison for the Little Rock Diocesan Council for Black Catholics. The diocese’ boards and Catholic organizations website reads, “As an evangelization instrument, the Diocesan Council for Black Catholics seeks to sensitize people in the Diocese of Little Rock to the needs and gifts of the black community for the purpose of inviting more of the black community to be part of the Church.”
Harvey said that Pruitt is a “very dedicated Catholic woman,” and that she “loves the youth in her parish and encourages them to be their best and take their roles in the Church.”
Pruitt converted to Catholicism in 1983, and has been secretary at her local parish for over 33 years. “I tried to retire this past April, but they couldn’t find anybody to replace me, and Father Emanuel (pastor) asked me to stay a few more months until he could learn his way around,” Pruitt said. “I’m still there.”
Pruitt “is a board member of Pax Christi and a driving force behind the Diocesan Council for Black Catholics as well as organizing local and national Black Catholic retreats and conferences,” Zakrenzewski reported, adding that Pruitt
and her husband of 43 years, Tim, have welcomed clergy and religious into their homes and assisted seminarians in their education, and have played pivotal roles in the Renew program, marriage counseling groups, Bible studies and several civic organizations in her community…
Pruitt is the third person in her family to receive the Rudd Award.
During the homily for the MLK Jr. Mass, Bishop Taylor said, “From [Martin Luther King Jr.] I learned that being a faithful Christian means more than just saying a prayer to try and get your own soul into heaven. Rather it means doing what Jesus did, working to build God’s kingdom of peace and justice and truth…and that includes defending human rights.”
The bishop added, “A difference between a hero and any other important historical figure is the way that a hero’s courageous self sacrifice inspires us to live up to the best that is in us, and that ability to inspire can become more powerful with the passage of time.”