More than 80 years after Fr. John W. R. Maguire, CSV, passed away, his legacy of social justice and advocating for the worker, lives on.

Fr. John W. R. Maguire, CSV

At this year’s baccalaureate Mass at Saint Viator High School, four honorees were recognized with the Fr. John W. R. Maguire, CSV, Award, in “recognition of outstanding dedication and contribution to solidarity and the common good.”

They include: Mary Rittle, Henry Jochaniewicz, Marianne Mercurio and Spanish teacher Ms. Elyse Slezak, ’09.

Specifically, the award recognizes students — and faculty — who embody the living spirit of St. Viator, by being honorable and just and by being “shining scepters of justice and charity,” to quote a phrase used by Fr. Maguire himself.

Mary Rittle fostered community and God’s presence among her classmates.

Fr. Daniel Lydon, CSV, President of Saint Viator, created the new award last year. He worked with Associate Ann Perez, Assistant to the President for Mission, to select recipients, and he described them in his homily.

“There’s the young woman who in very quiet ways works for justice, sharing with me and others how we might have greater solidarity on campus and how we might be truer to what we heard in the second reading:, ‘God is love.’

“Then there are two students who know deep down that prayer is at the heart of the Christian life,” Fr. Lydon continued. “They invited students, faculty and staff to pray the rosary each Friday. They knew the connection between justice and prayer. They prayed for an end to abortion, for the sick, for those touched by war. They even prayed for our capital campaign.

Henry Jochaniewicz gives the valedictory address.

“One of our teachers organized students interested in creating a more loving community here at Saint Viator. She lives out something else we heard in the second reading: ‘If we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is perfected in us.’ “

Fr. Maguire was a native of Ireland who served as an Army chaplain during World War I, before leading St. Viator College as president. He also was a missionary and radio host, but he drew national recognition as a labor negotiator, settling 87 of the 90 strikes he was called to arbitrate.

He was an ardent advocate for the working man, and an early pioneer in advocating for a living wage. A plaque dedicated to his leadership in social justice hangs in the lobby of the Viatorian Province Center.

Ms. Elyse Slezak receives her award from Fr. Dan Lydon.