Inspired by both the soldiers he encountered during his military career and by the students he now leads as a university president, retired Army Brigadier General Timothy Trainor recently spoke about his work to form future leaders at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg. 

“We seek to develop students to be the ethical leaders of tomorrow, something our nation and world needs now,” Trainor told 350 members of the John Carroll Society. “They will be ready to make a difference in the world.”

The 26th president of Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Trainor shared his own witness of faith during the keynote address at the 32nd annual John Carroll Society Awards Dinner held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown on April 21. 

“The typical soldier moves frequently, and is often away from family and friends,” Trainor explained, noting that in his 33-year career in the military he always felt at home during Mass. “I have attended Mass in remote locations around the world, sometimes with a rifle slung over my back in the woods,” he said and found himself equally comfortable whether in an elaborate cathedral or “in a tent in the desert in Iraq.”

A graduate of Don Bosco Prep, a Salesian high school in New Jersey, Trainor received a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Military Academy in 1983 and eventually also taught Sunday school and was involved in a teen retreat program while in the military. “In some of my loneliest times, attending Mass was like being home because our Savior and the great friend to all, our Lord Jesus Christ, was present in the Eucharist.”

Trainor also riveted the audience with one story about his service as a Eucharistic minister in the Army. He recalled being given permission to carry the Blessed Sacrament in a ciborium to a remote location in Honduras for weekly Communion service at base camp – as long as he kept the consecrated hosts secure. This task was complicated with the knowledge the unit was set to parachute to the location. “Given our mode of travel, I put the ciborium in a padded case in my pants cargo pocket – on the right side, I believe. The only thing I could think of upon jumping from the door of the C-141 cargo plane was I hope I land on my left side,” he recalled.

It was also in Honduras where Trainor said he witnessed many soldiers not only dedicated to protecting this country’s interest, but also willing to give up their own free time to assist the poor. On a Sunday afternoon, Trainor visited an orphanage in San Lorenzo where he discovered fellow soldiers giving up their few weekend hours to complete work they had promised on a project. “This is the type of selfless service done by our military members worldwide that few ever hear about,” Trainor said. “Those soldiers were heroes in my eyes, and more importantly in the eyes of those orphans.” 

Trainor and his wife, retired Colonel Donna Brazil raisedthree children, all of whom followed their parents into West Point and the Army. Prior to his retirement from the Army, Trainor served as dean and chief academic officer at the United States Military Academy. He holds a master’s degree in business from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke and a doctorate in industrial engineering from North Carolina State University.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, with Carol Grefenstette Bates, the society’s president and Msgr. Peter Vaghi, its chaplain, presented Trainor with the 2018 John Carroll Society Medal. Other awardees for the evening included: John H. Bayly, a retired judge; Thomas M. Loughney, immediate past president of the society; Anita McBride, executive in residence at American University; and married philanthropists Jill and Paul McNamara, all recognized for their steadfast examples of faith. 

Bayly, a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Parish, N.W., served as an associate judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia from 1990 until his retirement in 2011. A longtime member of the John Carroll Society, including many committees and membership on the Board of Governors, Bayly was also president of the Downtown Serra Club. 

Thomas Loughney, director of endoscopy at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, served as the Society’s president from 2015-2017. He and his wife with their two sons are parishioners at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown.

Both Jill and Paul McNamara have led successful careers in business enabling support of many Catholic and other charitable causes over the years. The couple chaired the Cardinal’s Appeal for the Archdiocese of Washington in 2003 and 2004. 

In addition to a longtime career in government culminating as assistant to President George W. Bush and chief of staff for First Lady Laura Bush, Anita McBride coordinated the official state visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. A longtime member of the John Carroll Society, McBride currently serves on the society’s Board of Governors. 

Reflecting on the 10 year anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Washington, McBride described her work in planning the papal visit to the White Houseas the “greatest event in my life.”

McBride said she just flew in from Houston earlier in the day where she attended the funeral services for former First Lady Barbara Bush who passed away at the age of 92. Calling herself “doubly blessed to celebrate faith in such special ways today,” McBride added, “Faith is your anchor. It’s always been a part of my life.”

Founded in 1951, the John Carroll Society is an organization of professional laywomen and men dedicated to the service of the archbishop of Washington and to promoting the spiritual, intellectual and social fellowship among its members and guests.

In his welcoming remarks, Cardinal Wuerl, credited the society as a forum to “support one another in that beautiful – that wonderful journey – of making your way through life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.” The prelate said members of the organization have a great opportunity to help one another through the “many challenges we face today in the experience of life.”

The John Carroll Society also recognized recipients of the Agnes E. Vaghi and Joseph P. Vaghi Scholarship funded by the proceeds of the Annual Awards Dinner. The scholarship provides a $5,000 annual award for each of four students at Archbishop John Carroll High School in Washington. This year’s scholar is Greta Terry, a member of the class of 2018. Other recipients include: Paula Valenzuela and Avery Middleton of the class of 2020; and Maria Gakdeng and Tiffini Rae Pittman of the class of 2021. 

For the second consecutive year, Olivia Young, a student at Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington won the Margaret Mary Missar High School Essay Competition. Now a junior, Young responded to the question regarding religious freedom and the First Amendment. In her essay, Young argued the First Amendment protects all forms of worship including defending the Church’s stance on ethical issues.

“The freedom that we have here in the United States is absolutely a blessing, but it is not guaranteed to continue forever if we don’t work to preserve it,” she wrote. “Although as Catholics, we must confront challenges to our faith on a continually increasing basis, we can take courage in knowing not only that we have every right to do so by the First Amendment, but also that we will be given the strength to persevere by our heavenly Father.”

Her theology teacher, Matthew Newell, attended the dinner and noted the judge’s reaction to Young’s essay clearly signifies “not only is she an excellent writer, she took the question of religious freedom seriously.” As the essays were not identified by name during the judging, Newell said he thought her repeat win proves Young “has something important to say.” 

Other essay contest winners included: second place to Danielle Valcarcel, Academy of the Holy Cross; third place to Grace Schuler of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney and to Christina Stavish of the Academy of the Holy Cross; and honorable mention to Claire Coyle, Olivia Madaras, Abigail Malone, Lillian McKinnon Hathaway Packard, Christina Marie Rivera, Siobhan Wampler, and Cailyn Williams of the Academy of the Holy Cross; Kylie Guelcher of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington; Beatriz Huerta of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park; and Caroline Peter of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

The society’s chaplain praised all the awardees and noted the importance of that group’s mission. “We build faith by experiencing the witness of people who live their faith,” said Msgr.Vaghi. “That’s the goal – the whole purpose of the John Carroll Society to help each other grow in faith.”