Father William J. Watters, S.J., former pastor of St. Ignatius, Baltimore, was honored by the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) April 10 at a Loyola Blakefield, Towson, reception. The priest received the first Madonna Della Strada Award, presented by the IVC national office and named after Sancta Maria Della Strada, the first church which St. Ignatius and early Jesuits obtained to serve the urban poor in the center of Rome centuries ago.
“He has been a very good friend of IVC for the last 13 years in its existence here in Mount Vernon,” Bill Macsherry, regional director, said of Father Watters.
The event served as a fundraiser with a suggested $100-per-plate donation, raising $37,000. Many attendees gave more.
“We were very pleased for that,” said Mr. Macsherry. The reception will continue annually and drew “terrific support” from the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.
The award honors an individual whose life reflects the Ignatian values of direct service to the poor and of working and educating for a more just society – the mission of Ignatian volunteers.
“Father Bill is the person we wanted to honor,” said Mr. Macsherry. “He was quite humbled.” One hundred and seventy of his family members, friends and fellow Jesuits attended the reception and a Mass with Father Watters, who was presented with an engraved gift for the occasion.
“I’m happy to receive this award,” said Father Watters, “but I do so in the name of the people who really support the Ignatian Volunteer Corps by their gifts and by their labor, especially the parishioners of St. Ignatius Church.”
The priest is now the executive assistant for the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.