Activist-educator dies in car accident - Catholic Courier

Activist-educator dies in car accident

Mary Dwelley, religious education coordinator at Rochester’s St. Bridget Church and an activist on public policy issues, was killed in a three-vehicle accident in Brighton April 11.

According to Brighton police, Dwelley, 57, died at the scene of the accident, which left another driver with serious injuries. Charges were pending in the case as of April 13, police said.

Dwelley was a well-known activist for the consistent life ethic, and served on the Diocese of Rochester’s Public Policy Committee. Jann Armantrout, diocesan life-issues coordinator, said Dwelley also served as co-author of Catholic Charities “Building Peace with Justice” bulletin inserts.

Dwelley also served as president of Feminists for Life of New York, the local arm of a pro-life feminist group. Serrin Foster, the national president of Feminists for Life, issued a statement praising Dwelley for her life’s work.
“The compassion Mary had for others was demonstrated through her unique ability to appreciate everyone’s perspectives, her commitment to nonviolence and wholistic solutions to crises and conflict, and her generous personal deeds on behalf of the vulnerable,” Foster said.

Father Paul Gitau, parochial administrator of St. Bridget and Immaculate Conception churches, also praised Dwelley.

“She was a person of faith, very strong in her faith,” he said. The priest added that Dwelley was dedicated to the African-American communities of both St. Bridget and Immaculate Conception, and was involved in the churches’ pastoral-planning process.

In addition to her work for the church, Dwelley was a lifelong special-education teacher and a mediator at the Center for Dispute Settlement. She counseled inner-city young people and also worked with community organizations serving the homeless as well as women with AIDS.

Dwelley was a recipient of the Diocese of Rochester’s Vita Award, which recognized her work on behalf of the consistent life ethic.

Carol Crossed, co-founder of Feminists for Life of New York, said Dwelley’s car was always filled with clothes and blankets for the poor, as well as newsletters for various groups. Dwelley perfectly combined performing acts of charity while seeking justice, Crossed said.

“I’ve never seen anybody be able to do that like Mary Dwelley,” she said.
Bishop Matthew H. Clark was scheduled to preside at a funeral Mass for Dwelley on April 19 at St. Bridget Church.

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