Born in 1936 in Pittsburgh, PA AFL-CIO Chaplin Father Jack O’Malley had a normal childhood attending school, playing sports, and later even trying out as a free agent for the Detroit Pistons. But while attending college Father O’Malley made the decision to enter the priesthood and become a labor advocate for the people.
Humorously and with humility in accepting the honor, he cited Pope Francis’s words when being proclaimed Pope by his fellow Cardinals “May God forgive you for what you have done.”
Father O’Malley reminisced how his father marched with the labor priest Father James R. Cox for the rights of veterans and workers, and was even baptized by him, thus instilling labor’s legacy into him at a very early age. He thanked his family, teachers, mentors, and friends along with prominent labor priests Donald W. McIlvane, and Charles O. Rice, and local and national leaders.
He also remembered Cesar Chavez and the farm workers who lived in his church. The farm workers would proclaim, “People who provided the food for the nation, didn’t have enough food to feed themselves.” And he reiterated that no one, anywhere, should have to work two jobs without healthcare and be away from their families.
Father O’Malley thanked the delegates with gracious humility for the award saying “You energize my soul, you are the citizens of the year, you are the wind behind my back!”