Mike Walsh, a certified matrimonial and family lawyer in Central Florida, and Outreach Love, a tutoring and mentoring program established by St. James Cathedral parishioners, were recognized by the Catholic Lawyers Guild for their dedication and service to the community during a special luncheon presentation held at the St. James Cathedral social hall following the Red Mass on Nov. 6. Walsh was named as the recipient of the St. Thomas More Award, while Outreach Love was presented the St. Martin de Porres Award at the event.
Pictured: Bishop Noonan, Don Madden, and Keith Hesse.
The recipients were selected by an awards committee of eight from the newly established Catholic Lawyers Guild of Central Florida, a lay Catholic organization whose focus is prayer, study, generosity, and evangelization. The committee is headed by Kevin Shaughnessy, a partner with BakerHostetler in Orlando.
The St. Thomas More Award is presented annually to a member of the legal profession whose accomplishments represent the principles of St. Thomas More. Recipients must be a practicing Catholic who displays a commitment to Catholic social teachings, promotes Christian principles to modern problems, promotes the social, intellectual and spiritual welfare of the people he/she serves, and offers personal sacrifice for the good of the community.
Shaughnessy said Walsh, who was unable to attend the luncheon, truly exemplify the award criteria. In addition to participating in the celebration of daily Mass, he participates in morning Bible study and serves as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at St. James Cathedral. Walsh maintains an active law practice and devotes much of his time to serving those in need.
“He is the type of person in our community who you can look up to and say, ‘He lives his faith publically. He is a great legal professional, and he does the little things that matter in this community’,” Shaughnessy said during the luncheon. “He wanted me to share a thank you to Bishop Noonan and to the community and to all the Catholic lawyers in Central Florida for helping him make his faith a reality in the community.”
The St. Martin de Porres Award is given to an organization that demonstrates unbounded and helpful charity, offering hope to those in need by promoting understanding and respect, friendship, and working and praying for peace.
The mission of Outreach Love is to impact the lives of at-risk children by teaching them to hope, dream and work to realize their God-given talents. Every Saturday during the school year, a group of volunteers meets with children in grades 1-5, for one-on-one tutoring and to help develop the children’s public speaking and socialization skills.
“It is a wonderful organization,” said Elizabeth Wheeler, a local lawyer and volunteer, as she presented the award. “And what is even more wonderful is watching these children throughout the school year. They start off pretty shy. Every Saturday, the noise level gets a little bit higher as they come in and interact with both the tutors and other kids.”
Executive director Don Madden, Government Affairs consultant with the Gunster law firm in Orlando, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
“It is really kind of wrong to say it is a tutoring organization because what we really are is a community building organization,” Madden said. “You can’t do what we do without falling in love with the kids. It is an honor to be recognized.”