By Jeff Miller
Special to The Texas Catholic
“I think you’ve got the wrong Anne.”
That was how Anne O’Brien responded to the recent news that she’d been chosen as Angel of the Year from among the 800-plus who volunteer with the Angels of Charity program operated by Catholic Charities of Dallas.
“I was very surprised and very humbled,” O’Brien said of the phone call that she received from Mel Bangs, this year’s Angels board president. “There are some women that do, really, so much more.”
O’Brien will be recognized at the Angels’ 14th annual Spring Mass and Luncheon on May 5. A 10:30 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe will be followed by a noon luncheon at the nearby Meyerson Symphony Center.
“I don’t think she’s ever said no to any request,” said Lindsey O’Sullivan, Angels of Charity board president for 2015-16.
The luncheon’s featured speaker will be Kali Schnieders, author of “Truffles from Heaven: Discovering the Sweet Gift of God’s Grace.”
“This is an amazing group of women who have really worked hard with Mel to open doors,” O’Sullivan said.
The Angels of Charity group was started in 2001, and O’Brien was invited to join then by one of its dozen founding members.
The list of activities this past year for the longtime parishioner at St. Rita Catholic Church included organizing monthly rosaries at the Catholic Charities offices, planning a Morning of Reflection program and serving the undocumented who came to Dallas.
Of the latter, O’Brien said, “Their stories of abuse and terror for years before they got to the United States – and I’m complaining because I can’t find a parking space.”
O’Brien grew up at St. Rita as the middle child of nine and graduated from Ursuline Academy while husband Scot, an attorney, graduated from Jesuit College Preparatory School. Her volunteer involvement is arranged to accommodate the schedule of the oldest of their six children. Luke, 29, was born with Down syndrome.
Luke lives in a group home near the O’Briens’ longtime home, which backs up to Jesuit’s football field, and he serves as an honorary Rangers assistant football coach. The two of them take Holy Communion to residents of the nearby Treemont Nursing Home on Fridays.
“They think of him as Father Luke,” O’Brien said with a smile.
Given the upcoming recognition of Angels of Charity volunteers, O’Brien said Catholic Charities’ staff represents the unsung heroes, the real angels.
“It’s really a vocation for them,” she said. “The strangers that come knocking on their doors have such dire needs, sometimes desperate stories. They are always so helpful. If they had the resources that they really need, it’s unimaginable what they could do. And they really do change lives.”
Others members of the Angels of Charity to be recognized for 2014-15 will be Kathy Sears (Angel of Compassion), Lucy Panza (Angel of Service) and Sherry Goiffon (Legacy Angel).