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Hearts Afire Gala Honorees
2023 Mother Mary Ann Sammon Award Recipients




Founded by Bill Connolly in 1950 in Newark, N.J., William H. Connolly & Co. grew steadily over the years, earning respect for integrity, breadth of professional knowledge and exceptional service. The company moved to Montclair in 1961 as their clientele evolved in the robust manufacturing, trucking, and public housing sectors. In the mid 1970’s, William H. Connolly & Co. entered the healthcare field and by the early 1980’s had become one of New Jersey’s leading brokers and risk management advisers for a diverse spectrum of businesses, institutions, health care services, religious organizations, nonprofits, schools and social agencies.


Today, William H. Connolly & Co., now part of The Hilb Group, employs approximately 55 people in its Montclair, N.J. office, formerly a turn of the century Victorian home and a Montclair landmark.


Kevin T. Walsh, who has succeeded the late Bill Connolly Jr. as President and Managing Director, leads a seasoned professional team operating business units ranging from commercial and personal insurance to professional risk management and health care risk services. Their commitment to excellence and innovation for their clients informs everything they do. Their guidance and counsel delivers exactly what they would expect for themselves - the utmost in quality, value, and reliability. 


For the past 20 years, William H. Connolly & Co. has served the insurance needs of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt, N.Y. Sr. Luella Ramm O.P. of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, N.J., a long-time client of William H. Connolly & Co., referred the Blauvelt Dominicans to Bill Connolly Jr. and Tom Coticchio. The business relationship has flourished. Today they work with Sr. Michaela Connolly O.P. and Melanie Petrucci. Over the years, they have worked with Sr. Mary Malone O.P., Sr. Cathy Howard, O.P., Sr. Thomas Joseph Durkin O.P., and Al Spiegel.


They are deeply grateful for this honor, and most thankful for the trust the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt have placed in them over many years.




Patricia Finan was born and raised in the Bronx and attended St. Anselm Elementary School, where she was educated by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt. Her sister, Sr. Margaret Finan, OP, entered the community in 1951. After graduating from Aquinas High School, Pat attended Hunter College where she received a degree in Math.


Pat's career path took her to Equitable Life Assurance, where she worked in the Actuary Department for 46 years.


Outside of work, Pat volunteered at St. Frances of Rome Parish in the Bronx, where she was a Lector, Eucharistic Minster, CCD Director, and Adult Club Director. She also served as Lector and Eucharistic Minister at St. Eugene’s in Yonkers.


In addition to her love of parish work, Pat holds several clubs and organizations close to her heart. She is the Treasurer of the Serra Club of the Bronx and Westchester and received the 2022 Father James Huvane Award in recognition of her many years of service; Treasurer of the Crestwood Chapter of the Ladies of Charity – the organization that donated the chapel at Marian Woods; member of the Aquehung Women’s Democratic Club campaigning for many candidates through the years; and District Leader in the Yonkers' Democratic Party 11th Ward.


Pat has been a loyal volunteer through the years at the Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt annual Autumn Festival and faithfully sold Festival Grand Prize Raffle chances at many parishes in Westchester and Rockland Counties.

For more than 15 years, Pat served on the Board of St. Dominic’s Home (now Saint Dominic’s Family Services).


It is an honor for the congregation to recognize Patricia Finan for her generous support and extraordinary service to the Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt.

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An Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt, Phyllis is a graduate of Dominican College, Seton Hall, and Rutgers University earning a bachelors and master’s degree in psychology. Currently, she serves as the CEO of Women Aware Inc., the state recognized provider of domestic violence services in Middlesex County NJ. 


Never wanting to leave her alma mater, Phyllis began her career as an adjunct professor at Dominican College.  Most recently, she wrote an allegory called “Miraculous Catastrophe” with Sr. Margaret Mary Gleeson, OP, PhD.  Sr. Miriam Catherine, OP, provided the copy editing.  The Sisters of St. Dominic remains her forever spiritual home.

The Mary Ann Sammon Award for Compassion and Service

Each year, the Sisters of Saint Dominic honor individuals whose lives have demonstrated a spirit of faith and deep caring for others. These individuals are presented with the Mary Ann Sammon Award for Compassion and Service.

Past Honorees of the Mary Ann Sammon Award for Compassion and Service include:


Jerry Haas, Peter McKeever, Teresa Radzinski, Laura & Dan Grable, Anthony & Marian D'Ambosio, Lane & Janet Jorgensen, Ruth Young (Posthumously), Phyllis & Bruce Schweizer, Judy Kydon, John Nevins, Barbara & David Bender, Robert S. Manzella, Sisters of Our Lady of the Christian Doctrine, Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, Michael Ragno, Benedict Versaci, John & Eileen White, Kathleen Gregg, Hector May, Keith R. Taylor, Reverend John F. Dwyer, J. Robert Lunney, Peggy Bell Kalter, James F. Hurley, Monsignor Gerald Ryan, Clifford Lai, Sr. Bernadette Kenney, RSHM, Br. James Kearney, FMS, John Caffrey, Rita & Jim Sullivan, Nancy & Bill Hynes, the Moroney Family, the Cullen Family, FDNY Pipe & Drum Band, and in Memory of Timothy J. Mara.

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