Our second honoree, Mr. John Fleming, is a gentleman of grand stature whose life witnesses to his commitment to give to God and His people.
Mr. Fleming has known the Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary for 66 years. He vividly recalls working with the Sisters’ foundress, Sister Mary Schutz, and all of the sisters as they went two by two, door to door evangelizing African American families in Detroit. He made home visits with the sisters. He volunteered for the Home Visitors of Mary Catholic Information Center for 10 years and at the St. Catherine House for Women where Sister LeFerla was a board member. With the Home Visitors, Mr. Fleming has served in vacation Bible schools and as a religious education teacher in various city parishes in the Archdiocese, since 1956.
Mr. Fleming is a native of Rayville, Louisiana.
Mr. Fleming graduated 1947 from Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education; Wayne State University with a Master of Education in Elementary Education and Eastern Michigan University, with an Education Specialist Degree. He has engaged in post graduate academia at Wayne State University and the University of Detroit and has been awarded many certificates in various areas of study.
Mr. Fleming was a public school educator for thirty-eight years.
Before and after retiring as an educator, Mr. Fleming pursued an active life as a volunteer.
He has been a Karmanos Cancer Institute volunteer for over 25 years. A statement in the Winter 2013 issue of VOLUNTEERS AT KARMANOS reads, and I quote: “His ability to put people at ease, making them comfortable and brightening their day is what makes him such a shining example of true volunteerism.”
For over 25 years, he has volunteered at the Northville Psychiatric Hospital and for over 20 years at the former St. Frances Home for Boys as a mentor.
Mr. Fleming has been an opera devotee since the age of nine; his favorite opera is Verdi’s La Traviata. With that said, I share that Mr. Fleming has been a volunteer for the Michigan Opera House for over 29 years. In the Fall 2014 issue of its BRAVO Newsletter, the Michigan Opera Company saluted Mr. Fleming with the following words: “Every Thursday, John Fleming puts on a pristine suit and tie and walks from his apartment to the Detroit Opera House, where he spends the morning organizing files and making calls for the Patron Services Department.”
Mr. Fleming has also been highlighted by:
The Sisters of Mercy in a production on “Laymen in the Church Today”; Channel 4 in their Time to Care Series and for fundraising efforts for the Michigan Opera House; Radio Station WDJR on the topic of Successful Aging; and The Michigan Catholic in 2010 for his work related to the literacy program at St. Aloysuis Parish.
Among his numerous awards are those received while serving in the United States Army; Outstanding Teacher in America awards; The Spirit of Detroit Award (received twice); The Governor’s Volunteer Honor Roll Award; the Urban Parish Spirit Award (2010); and Recognition for Outstanding Service Awards.
Mr. Fleming has created 11 exhibits that have been displayed at the former Precious Blood Parish. Blessed Sacrament Cathedral and St. Aloysuis Parish where he is active in lay ministry. His 11 exhibits promote a deeper knowledge and appreciation for Black History and those affiliated with Black History. He is looking forward to completing Exhibit #12 on either Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta or Venerable Solanus Casey, whoever is canonized first.
On July 31st of this year, Mr. Fleming turned 94 years young in Christ. His life continues to be one of service and giving to others.
When asked to what he credits his many years of vibrant and extensive service, Mr. Fleming quoted the words on the cornerstone of Xavier University, and I quote: “God’s greatest gift on earth is the creation of man. Man’s master art is the leading of man to God.” He also quoted the purpose of the secular order of St. Francis of which he is a member, and I quote: “From Gospel to life; from life to Gospel, meaning that its members put into everyday practice the precepts of Gospel perfection and serve as models of Christian life for the imitation of others.” Additionally, Mr. Fleming shared the profound influence of St. Katharine Drexel, founder of Xavier University, on his life.
We salute Mr. Fleming for a life of self-giving, for always being available, using his feet and the bus to transport himself to places and people in need of his skills, talents and gifts.
Ladies and gentleman, my cup overflows with indescribable joy as I present to you as a recipient of the SISTERS’ OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO COMMUNITY AWARD, MR. JOHN FLEMING.