Each year in Madison, Wisconsin, Edgewood College presents the Mazzuchelli Medallion to individuals who exemplify the spiritual and intellectual resources to empower others. The award’s 26th year coincides with the opening of the Dominican Order’s 800th Jubilee this week. As such, the college chose two Dominicans, Fr. Jim Marchionda, O.P. and Sr. Ann Willits, O.P. as this year’s recipients.
“With this award, we recognize two Dominicans who individually and together, through scripture, music, story, poetry, and a network of worldwide relationships are building a more just and compassionate world,” Maggie Hopkins, O.P., Vice President for Dominican Life and Mission, said.
“Sr. Ann and Fr. Jim’s witness and partnership as preachers and teachers encourages our Edgewood College community to be faithful to our mission to educate students for ethical leadership and service in a lifelong search for truth.”
“We thought, who better to represent the preaching and teaching of the Order than two people that so many of us know personally,” said Hopkins. “It’s an effort to give a nod of recognition, and these are two deserving Dominicans, among many.”
Both Marchionda and Willits are well-known for parish ministries, and have preached together as a team at times for the past 23 years. They were recently profiled in National Catholic Reporter (September 25-October 8, 2015), along with itinerant preachers Fr. Mike Champlin, O.P., Fr. Nick Punch, O.P., and Sr. Joan Bukrey, O.S.F., who serve the United States and Australia out of the Thomas More Center for Preaching and Prayer in Webster, Wisconsin. Dominicans, Sr. Patricia Bruno, O.P. and Fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P. were also highlighted for the variety they bring to preaching by the inclusion of a female voice.
In the NCR article, Fr. Marchionda was quoted, saying, “Just the witness of her being in the sanctuary, for anyone who has eyes to see, it speaks volumes. People come up after the Mass and say how important it is to them.”
“Men and women preach differently,” he added. “Interpreting the Scriptures from both the male and female perspectives gives you a different take on the Scriptures.”
The Mazzuchelli Medallion is given as part of the school’s annual Heritage Celebration, recognizing its many founders, as well as the founder of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli, O.P., himself. This year’s award ceremony coincides with Mazzucheilli’s birthday (November 4) in 1806 and the beginning of the Order’s 800th Jubilee (November 7).