Donna Toliver Grimes, assistant director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will be the keynote speaker at the first Black Catholic Awards banquet which will be held Saturday, March 25, at the Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa/Short Pump.

“The purpose of the event is to recognize strong leadership within our Diocese,” said Pam Harris, director of the Diocesan Office for Black Catholics and Asian Ministry.

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to both Msgr. Walter Barrett, Jr. and Sister Cora Marie Billings, longtime leaders in ministry of the Diocese of Richmond.

Msgr. Barrett, born and reared in Richmond, is currently pastor of Peninsula Parish Cluster which includes St. Joseph’s, Hampton; St. Mary Star of the Sea, Hampton; and St. Vincent de Paul, Newport News. He was ordained a priest in 1975. He is Vicar of the Diocese’s Eastern Vicariate.

Sister Cora, born in Philadelphia, is a member of the Sisters of Mercy who previously taught in Catholic schools. She was director of the Richmond Diocesan Office for Black Catholics and was also pastoral coordinator of St. Elizabeth’s Parish in Richmond.

In addition, other honors which will be presented are the Acacia Award, the Saint Katharine Drexel Award and the Father Augustus Tolton Award.

The Acacia Award will be presented to Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo. Named after the Acacia Tree which is native to Africa, it recognizes an individual for one’s years of service, support and fidelity to the Black Catholic community.

The Saint Katharine Drexel Award is named for the American-born saint who began the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and was a pioneer in educational outreach to black children. It recognizes an individual who exhibits a high level of commitment to his or her faith in the Black Catholic community.

It will be presented to Phyllis Booth, St. Elizabeth’s, Richmond; Mignon Chubb-Hale, St. Gerard’s, Roanoke, and Candra Parker, Holy Rosary, Richmond.

The Father Augustus Tolton Award will recognize youth who have demonstrated leadership in our church, school and community. It will be presented to Taiheem Churchwell, of Holy Rosary Parish and All Saints School, Richmond.

Funds raised for this event will be given in the form of scholarships to assist Black Catholic youth in continuing their Catholic education.

Tickets are $65 a person. A Table of 10 is available upon request.

For tickets, contact Pam Harris, Office for Black Catholics, obc@richmonddiocese.org or call (804) 622-5262 to purchase tickets.