McMullen Award bestowed on two couples at Ambrose


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Two couples dedicated to the St. Ambrose University mission of enriching the lives of others received the McMullen Award during Mass Dec. 7 at Christ the King Chapel on the university campus. Dec. 7 was also the feast of Saint Ambrose.

Anne Marie Amacher
Bishop Martin Amos presents the McMullen Award to John and Helen Morrissey.

The McMullen Award was named after Bishop John McMullen, founder of St. Ambrose, and “honors those who embody our mission of enriching lives,” said Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, the university’s president. “These awards are symbolic in so many ways. The cross in each award once hung in the sanctuary of Christ the King Chapel, prior to the 2006 renovation. The presidential seal on the cross recognizes the heritage of St. Ambrose, and recipients carrying them are towering symbols of what it means to be an Ambrosian.”

Following Communion during the Second Sunday of Advent Mass, Bishop Martin Amos blessed the McMullen Awards. “Hear our prayers, God of all blessing. Send your Spirit upon these awards and those who will be honored for them. From the abundance of your mercy, enrich your servants and safeguard them. Strengthened by your blessing, may they always be thankful to you and bless you with unending joy. We ask this and all things through Christ our Lord.”


John and Helen Morrissey and Joe and Joyce O’Rourke were honored with the McMullen Awards.

The Morrisseys served the campus community quietly for many decades, though their impact is unmistakable, Sr. Lescinski said. “Their legacy extends to their family members who have been an integral part of the St. Ambrose family.”

Anne Marie Amacher
Joe and Joyce O’Rourke receive the Bishop McMullen award during a Mass Dec. 7 at Christ the King Chapel on the St. Ambrose Univer­si­ty campus in Davenport.

John served as director of physical plant services during a period of unprecedented growth, Sr. Lescinski said. “He approached his job with enthusiasm and enjoyment that was visible to those he encountered. He oversaw major construction projects, such as residence halls and the library.” She noted that Morrissey and his crew “never forgot the small details.

“Together, John and Helen supported the university’s capital campaigns, scholarship programs, annual fund drives and planned giving program.”

Next, the O’Rourkes stood before the filled chapel. “Joe and Joyce’s dedication to serving the St. Ambrose community has touched nearly every aspect of our campus and we are humbled by their selflessness,” Sr. Lescinski said.

“Joe has emerged as a leader on the university’s board of trustees after many years of service.” He assisted in guiding the board through discussions and decisions, but also takes the time to ensure all trustees, including new members, feel included and valued.

The couple has been instrumental in “encouraging alumni and friends to support St. Ambrose. They set an example with their support of St. Ambrose in countless ways. They also understand the importance of annual gifts and encourage others to follow their lead and give to the annual fund,” Sr. Lescinski said.

Following the Mass, John Morrissey said he was flabbergasted and his wife Helen was surprised to hear that they would receive the award. He worked for 42 years at St. Ambrose and since retiring still attends various events at the university. “We have lots of friends here.”

Joe O’Rourke said he and his wife were honored and it was humbling to learn they were to receive the award. “We do what we do and don’t expect to receive an award for it,” he said.
“This is such a great celebration,” Joyce said. And having Bishop Amos there made it even more special she added.

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