Dr. Jim O'Neill, Mercy Sisters Slated for Spirit of Service Award: Recognition to occur at Oct 19 Celebration of Mission to Service benefit

Posted 09/15/2016

Respected Vanderbilt University Medical Center pediatric surgeon and professor Dr. James A. O'Neill, Jr., M.D. and the Sisters of Mercy will be honored with the Spirit of Service Award on Wednesday, October 19, at the 2016 Celebration of Mission to Service presented by Saint Thomas Health.

The Celebration, a benefit for Catholic Charities of Tennessee and Saint Mary Villa Child Development Center presented by Saint Thomas Health, will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at Hillwood Country Club in Nashville.

"The Spirit of Service Award is presented to individuals who or groups that have been significant contributors to the well-being of the clients served by Catholic Charities and Saint Mary Villa and reflect the agencies' values of love, goodwill, kindness, learning and laughter," said Bill Sinclair, Catholic Charities of Tennessee executive director.

"The work and commitment of Dr. O'Neill and the dedication and humble service of the Sisters of Mercy, who are celebrating their 150th anniversary of service in Tennessee this year, are emblematic of this Spirit of Service award."

"Dr. O'Neill truly personifies the values of this honor," said Clarie Givens, Saint Mary Villa Child Development Center executive director. "The Spirit of Service Award recognizes his multifaceted service to the local community, especially to its children, and to the world-at-large."

For a major portion of O'Neill's professional career, Vanderbilt and Nashville have been home. After earning his medical degree from Yale University, he interned and served as a Resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Subsequently, he held a variety of leadership positions at major facilities and institutions, including Brooke Army Medical Center, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus Children's Hospital, Louisiana State University School of Medicine, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Vanderbilt. He returned to Middle Tennessee permanently in 1995.

In recent years, Dr. O'Neill has participated in annual two-three month long medical missions to countries on the African continent. He and his wife, Susan, have three children and eight grandchildren. He and his wife are parishioners at Cathedral of the Incarnation.

"I was nominated to the Board because I am a pediatric surgeon," said O'Neill. "They asked me to help with regard to health policy issues." He added that he was the only physician on the Board during his 11 years of service.

"The Sisters of Mercy have been a part of life here in Middle Tennessee for nearly 150 years," said Bill Sinclair. "They have been teachers, principals, nurses, and doctors."

"To many in this area," he continued, "mention of the Mercy Sisters brings thoughts of Saint Bernard Academy. The Sisters of Mercy have actually served in 36 Catholic schools across the state of Tennessee since they first arrived!"

In addition, they founded Saint Mary's Hospital in Knoxville and sponsored House of Mercy in Nashville, a residential home for women with children transitioning from chemical dependency to living fully in society. They currently offer day and overnight retreats at the Mercy Convent in the Pennington Bend area. They have served those in need in many quieter ways, as well.

"We are very excited to have Saint Thomas Health join us as presenting sponsor for Celebration of Mission to Service," noted Sinclair. "Their involvement in this event, as well as our Pathways to Possibilities luncheon in April 2017, is yet another way that we partner to better serve our neighbors in need here in Middle Tenenssee."

For information on tickets or remaining sponsorship opportunities, go to the Celebration of Mission to Service page ( on the Catholic Charities of Tennessee website ( or contact Mark Barry ( or 615-352-3087 x-2182).

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Nashville, TN 37214
Office: (615) 352-3087
Fax: (615) 352-8591

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