Dr. Michael J. Brescia, M.D., feels blessed for his terminally ill patients who serve as a source of strength to him as he does to them.
Dr. Brescia was one of three honorees at the 2016 People of Life Awards Banquet celebrated before more than 125 diocesan, state and national Catholic pro-life leaders and guests from across the country at the Manursing Island Club in Rye on Aug. 8.
Dr. Brescia, executive medical director at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, was honored for his work as a pro-life physician and health care advocate.
Also honored were Mary Boyert of the Archdiocese of Atlanta for her work “defending human dignity from conception to natural death,” and the late Father Bill Carmody for his “tireless, joy-filled pro-life service in the Diocese of Colorado Springs.’’
Cardinal Dolan presented the awards at the banquet sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities during its annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference. The cardinal is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
“I will never forget this night,” Dr. Brescia said in his remarks at the dinner. “I feel forever honored. I’ve been given this award. The award goes somewhere else. I’ve been gifted by my people. I’ve been gifted by my patients. I’ve been gifted all my life.’’
Dr. Brescia, who serves on the Pro-Life Commission of the Archdiocese of New York, earned his medical degree from Georgetown University. He is the co-inventor of the Brescia-Cimino Arteriovenous Fistula, which is used to treat patients with kidney disease through dialysis.
Ms. Boyert dedicated her efforts to the pro-life cause after the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion across the United States, assisting in the passing of pro-life legislation in Georgia and serving as director for the Respect Life Ministry in the Archdiocese of Atlanta for 16 years.
“This is truly an honor and to receive the award from (Cardinal Dolan) is really, really special,” Ms. Boyert said.
Father Carmody, who was ordained in 1990 and died in February after a battle with cancer, was named the first Respect Life director for the Diocese of Colorado Springs and started the post-abortion healing ministry named Project Rachel in 1994. He started celebrating weekly Masses in front of the local Planned Parenthood in 1994 and helped start the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil to end abortion in 2008.
“I am certain that when God knitted together Father Bill Cormody, God used a special stitch to create Father Bill’s heart,” said Rhonda Miller, a co-worker and friend of Father Cormody who accepted the award.
“Father Bill had a heart filled with compassion and understanding far beyond the ordinary heart, As a parish priest for over 26 years in the Diocese of Colorado Springs, countless lives were touched by Father Bill.”
Before the dinner, Cardinal Dolan was the celebrant of a Mass at Resurrection Church in Rye for the pro-life leaders. Auxiliary Bishop Peter Byrne and Bishop David Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., were among the concelebrants.
“The pro-life enterprise is in a very, very difficult period,” Cardinal Dolan said. “It is difficult to remain confident in the value of our work, and there is no use denying that. The abortion license seems more and more expanded, and more and more ingrained, and more and more arrogant.”
Cardinal Dolan closed his homily by stressing the congregation is not alone in its battle for life.
“We not only have one another and colleagues in this extraordinary cherished apostolate, but also because we are members of a household of faith, we’ve also got solidarity with Jesus, his mother and his great saints like St. Dominic, whose feast we celebrate today,” the cardinal said.
“If that doesn’t encourage you, I don’t know what does.”