Democrat Photo by Dan Hust
THE FALLSBURG LODGE of Free and Accepted Masons hosted the Grand Lodge of the State of NY at the Liberty Masonic Lodge for a special event Wednesday: the honoring of Sister Kevin John Shields (front row, second from right) with the DeWitt Clinton Award. Also attending were, front row from the left, Sullivan District Deputy Grand Master John Green, State Deputy Grand Master Carl Fitje, and Lodge Master Alan Rosenshein, D.S.A.; and back row from the left, Mason Richard Feller, State Deputy Grand Marshal Edward Giesler, State Junior Grand Deacon Joseph Homer, State Grand Steward John Wells, State Deputy Grand Standard Bearer Kenneth Wagner and Fallsburg Lodge Treasurer Burton Ledina.
Sister Kevin John Shields
Honored by Top Award
By Dan Hust
LIBERTY April 27, 2001 With all the pomp and circumstance, rites and traditions that go with a Masonic ceremony, Sister Kevin John Shields of Liberty was honored Wednesday night with the DeWitt Clinton Award.
The event was hosted at the Liberty Masonic Lodge by the Fallsburg Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, based in Loch Sheldrake, but the award itself was bestowed upon Shields by the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, and Masons from most local lodges and the state made it a point to attend.
Distinguished area officials such as County Clerk George Cooke, Family Court Judge Mark Meddaugh and NYS Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kane also witnessed the full-dress ceremony, which was in honor of Shields 24 years of full-time, untiring service to Sullivan County.
We deeply believe in service to all humanity, remarked Carl Fitje, the deputy grand master of the Grand Lodge of the State of NY. And youre in some mighty good company, sister.
Indeed, Shields joins the ranks of such well-known individuals as actor Paul Newman, newsman Hugh Downs and Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger in receiving this award designed to be given to a non-Mason whose actions exemplify a shared concern for the well-being of mankind and a belief in the worldwide brotherhood of man, explained Fallsburg Mason Richard Feller.
And it was easily agreed that Shields met that criteria.
If I had to characterize this process of composing this presentation, I would say it was both humble and humbling, for information about Sister Kevin John was not easy to come by, because, I suspect, of her basic nature, which has been described as personally modest humble, if you will, said Fallsburg Mason and County Court Judge Burton Ledina during the presentation. But with fortitude and perseverance, I was able to come up with some information which may be to the rest of us to say the least quite humbling.
He then detailed Shields extensive credentials, experience and evident compassion for her fellow human beings.
Educated as a teacher, Shields an Amityville Dominican Sister in the Roman Catholic faith received her BA and MA from St. Johns University in Jamaica, NY, along with an MRE from Boston College. She taught at all grade levels (and has been described as an extraordinary teacher, added Ledina), mostly at schools on Long Island.
Shields first experiences in the county came while administering and directing the St. Josephs Girls Summer Camp at St. Josephs, a tiny community just south of Monticello in the Town of Forestburgh.
She also served as choir director at several locations and became the regional director of religious education for the Catholic parishes throughout Sullivan and Orange counties.
Perhaps what Shields is best known for, however, is the organization she created and still heads: the Sullivan County Cares Coalition in Liberty, which provides substance abuse prevention and educational programming for local youth and their communities. It is now a part of the Recovery Center in Monticello, and the Masons also gave Shields a check for the center along with her award.
Through the coalition, Shields became involved in the Sullivan Prevention Alliance Network, DARE, the countys Youth Bureau, and Drug Awareness Day.
Heartaches, support, hope and life: this is what you, Sister Kevin John, have given to countless numbers for countless years, commented Sullivan District Deputy Grand Master John Green as he handed Shields the DeWitt Clinton Award. These selfless actions have earned you respect a respect that is evident by your friends and colleagues, both near and far being present this evening.
She has been described as a dynamo, although she professes to be only flesh and bone, added Ledina. She possesses the unique ability to engender in others the same drive for accomplishment she so readily displays herself. . . . She leads by example, and her impact upon the lives of the citizenry of Sullivan County is beyond measure.
And yet, in true form, Shields accepted the award with a caveat that the credit be equally shared with all the people she has worked with to improve the area.
Its been a privilege for me to work in Sullivan County, she told the audience after a standing ovation. Ive encountered the most wonderful people, who really are why Im standing here.
I am very humbled . . . and deeply, deeply grateful.