From the time Rev. Ray Chase started his ministry with Catholic Charities 43 years ago, his spirit of joy shone clearly, brightening the lives of those he served. This year, the pastor of Baltimore’s St. Vincent De Paul parish was named the recipient of the Msgr. Arthur F. Valenzano Joyful Servant Award.
Commissioned to recognize a joyful life and spirit in service, the award honors the spirit of the late rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who served on the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees until his passing in 2015.
Catholic Charities Executive Director Bill McCarthy noted the similarities between this year’s recipient and the award’s namesake.
“Fr. Ray is always offering some form of encouragement or gratitude to others,” he said. “Just like Msgr. Art, he has been serving and giving to others for more than 40 years, seeing the dignity in every person. … They both have given with a sense of optimism and joy, which is always welcomed by those that are often treated as if they are invisible to the world.”
Living up to the challenge
Fr. Chase’s faithful labor of love has made his parish, which sits at the foot of the I-83 expressway, a beacon of working for social and racial justice. He said he views the honor as a challenge to become even better at his work – for the sake of those around him.
“I have something to live up to, because Msgr. Art always wanted people to live more deeply,” he said. “I believe his biggest desire for winners of this award would be to see it as a challenge for potential growth. It truly is a privilege to receive this award, and I hope I can be faithful to it.”
Fr. Chase began his ministry with Catholic Charities of Baltimore 43 years ago. He started as a deacon at Gallagher Services, formerly known as the Gallagher Center, in 1978. After serving in many roles with Catholic Charities through the years, he is currently chaplain at the organization’s Jenkins Senior Living Community, a campus hosting The Neighborhoods at St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Caritas House Assisted Living, St. Ann Adult Day program, and two senior apartment communities.
McCarthy said he has witnessed the ways in which Fr. Chase’s approach matters to those around him.
“So many people give in a transactional manner, but Frs. Art and Chase give in a relational manner,” he said. “These men both have truly lived our values and been truly joyful servants.”
Fr. Chase is one of three exemplary area servants Catholic Charities is recognizing the week of November 8-12. The other two pillars of the community are: Johns Hopkins University graduate Karen Sun, who is being honored with the Anne Lindsey Otenasek Youth Service Award for her commitment to women and children experiencing homelessness and poverty in Baltimore; and Geri Olsen, who is receiving the Distinguished Service Award for her 27 years of service to the residents and staff of St. Vincent’s Villa.