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Awardees Recognized for a Life-Long Commitment to their Faith

Malvern Retreat House has bestowed its highest honor on four individuals who have made tremendous contributions to the Catholic church.  At the retreat center’s annual Communion Mass & Luncheon in November, the honorees –Samuel Chairs, Kathleen McCarthy, Joseph Petrongolo and David White —  received the St. Joseph the Worker Medal. It recognizes individuals who have had significant achievements that reflect his or her Catholic faith.

“I am inspired by the heroic Catholic witnesses that we have honored,” Mark Poletunow, President of Malvern Retreat House said. “Their lives remind us that God is with us no matter the circumstances of the world. Their faithfulness and perseverance not only inspires us, but also challenges us to be better people of faith; to love God and our neighbor much better. And to never give up the good fight.”

Sam Chairs has exemplified these traits with his extraordinary generosity. Chairs is not only a retreatant and benefactor to Malvern Retreat House, but he is also well-known in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for his contributions to the community.  With the help of the Catholic Community Foundation, he created the Samuel and Patricia Chairs Family Endowment Fund in honor of his late wife, and seven additional funds in the names of each of their children and their spouses.  These funds benefit many organizations, including Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, the Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Ellicott City, where the Chairs family has been parishioners for 42 years, St. Bernardine School where Sam and Pat Chairs both attended as children, and the Baltimore-Haiti Project that assists Haitian children in need.

Dave White, Kathleen McCarthy and Joseph Petrongolo are three of the 2017 recipients of the St. Joseph the Worker Award.

 Kathleen McCarthy was honored for her years of work as a lay evangelist. She was estranged from the Catholic faith for 12-years but returned after a trip to church when she was 29-years old. Since then, McCarthy has traveled across the country and internationally as a sought after conference speaker and retreat director. McCarthy credited God’s grace for helping her be where she is today.

“I am here before you because of the love and guidance from our Lord,” McCarthy said. “Many, many years ago, I committed myself to Jesus and he has lead me.  I stand here today accepting this wonderful award because I had followed where the Lord asked me to go. ”

Joseph Petrongolo and David White both have strong ties to Malvern Retreat House as long-time Men of Malvern retreatants. Both of them have attended retreats for decades.  The Petrongolo family has been one of the retreat house’s most active families with members coming to the retreat center for about 75-years now. 

“I am so happy to see that my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are continuing the tradition of come on the Sons of Italy retreat every December,” Petrongolo said.  “Malvern is a holy place.

In addition to being a retreatant, White also has served as the chair of the Retreat Committee and as the retreat house’s Director of Public Relations and Development. His retreat experience though is what he says he treasures the most though.

“My boss from Sears invited on retreat 59 years ago,” White said  “I have not missed a retreat since my first year.  To receive the St. Joseph the Worker Medal is certainly humbling.  I am sure there are many others more deserving than I am, but I grateful for this honor.”


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