May 1, 2001 -- Father
John P. Smyth, executive director of Maryville Academy, has been selected
as a recipient of The 2000 Order of Lincoln Award for his success in providing
abused, neglected and abandoned children with a loving, organized and
opportunity-filled environment. The Order of Lincoln, presented by The
Lincoln Academy, is the State’s highest award for individual achievement.
resembles the Badge of the Academy, which is based on that of the French
Legion of Honor. The colors came from the State symbols: red for the State
bird, the cardinal; violet for the State flower; and green for the State
tree, the oak. The motto, “Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat” translates
to “Let him who merits bear the palm”.
confident that the Lincoln Academy was impressed by Father Smyth’s
dedication and hard work to a very sensitive issue,” said DCFS Director
Jess McDonald. “Maryville is an excellent example of what can happen
when you have a positive, creative and sincere leader.”
has expanded and strengthened programs at Maryville, the largest residential
facility in Illinois. For over thirty years the center’s programs
haves addressed the physical, psychological and social needs of children
who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.
Father Smyth was a NBA first round draft pick, he chose to enter the priesthood.
Ordained in 1962, he was assigned to an aging institution, which became
Maryville Academy. Originally founded as a training school in 1882 it
was financially supported by the archdiocese of Chicago.
On the verge
of closing, Father Smyth was appointed executive director in 1970. His
goal was to turn the facility around and provide crucial services and
programs to children in State care. He began renovating and remodeling
the facility to suit the needs of this population.
Father Smyth for his vision to develop Maryville into a comprehensive
system for Illinois children in care,” said Director McDonald. “Being
able to oversee seventeen campuses that provide short- and long-term residential
care, foster care, therapy, counseling, and medical treatment for more
than 16,000 children annually is no easy task. His recognition is truly
have included the addition of a career development center to ensure the
success of departing residents. When residents leave the center at age
18, they are given the necessary skills to become productive contributors
to society. Skills include job search, interviewing techniques, typing,
housing assistance and an array of specialized programs geared toward
developing marketable skills.
commitment to children is also evident in the creation of fully-funded
scholarships for any Maryville resident or alumni accepted into a post
high school program in Illinois or out of state (college, graduate or
professional schools). The money is raised privately by Maryville and
covers tuition, room, board, books and living expenses. A mentor, who
provides emotional support, is also assigned to each of the more than
100 students in this scholarship program.
characteristic of Father Smyth is that he takes a personal interest in
the life of each Maryville resident,” said Director McDonald. Father
Smyth personally visits every student in the scholarship program, regardless
if they attend school in Illinois or another state. How many directors
or leaders can say they do that? This action truly shows dedication and
a commitment to serving children.”
Academy of Illinois was created in 1964 to honor individuals whose contributions
to the betterment of mankind have been accomplished in or on behalf of
the State of Illinois, or, whose achievements have brought honor to the
state because of their identity with it, whether by birth or residence,
or by their dedication to those principles of democracy and humanity as
exemplified by the great Illinoisan whose name it bears. The academy honors
senior students at each of the four-year, degree granting institutions
in Illinois for their excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.
It also honors those famous individuals who lived prior to the founding
of the academy, but who made notable contributions to the State in their
of Lincoln Award is presented to individuals who sought and achieved excellence
in the arts and the performing arts, medicine and science, education,
sports, religion, agriculture, social services, business, government and
law, labor, and communications.
recipients include Orion Samuelson, Roger Ebert, Marian F. Pritzker, M.
Cherif Bassiouni and Henry B. Betts, M.D. Upon receiving this recognition,
Father Smyth joins past awardees, including: Scott Turow, Jim Edgar, Patrick
Ryan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Adlai E. Stevenson
II, and a host of other individuals.