The oldest of six children raised in Jackson Mississippi by a single mom, Anderson Shaw knew he was going to become a Catholic one day – but not while he was living in his mother’s home.
“My mom, until the day she died, was a very strong southern Baptist person – she did not believe in the Catholic Church,” Anderson recalled. “She read her bible daily. People would come by just to talk to her about the bible, and if you mentioned anything Catholic, she just would not hear it.”
Interestingly enough, Anderson ended up in a parochial school, thanks to his mom, who was lovingly known as “Miss Emma.”
“I was in the second grade when my sister was having some difficulties in the public school. My mom wanted to see us have a better education, so she put us in a parochial school,” he said. “So I attended St. Mark’s in Jackson Mississippi from the second or third grade until the eighth grade, and then went into the public school system.”
After graduating from high school in Mississippi, Anderson decided to move west.
“I came to L.A. after watching one of the Rose Bowl games, and decided that was the place to go, and for educational opportunities, it made a lot of sense,” recalled Anderson, who was 18 years old at the time. “So a friend of mine and I got an old car and drove from Jackson to L.A. with $75 in our pocket and came and looked for work.”
With the goal to be an accountant, he ended up working at TRW’s Space Technology Labs.
“After four years I was made head of the section called managements reports – I had that many promotions,” Anderson said. “That’s how I got started in Los Angeles.”
Meanwhile, his decision to convert to Catholicism occurred when he was going to Holy Name of Jesus, A Catholic Church on Jefferson Boulevard in Los Angeles.
“I met the associate pastor, Father Jerry Schmit, and told him I had this desire to be a Catholic,” Anderson remembered. “I told him how I had always wanted to, but I always felt like I would be letting my mom down.”
With that, Father Jerry gave Anderson instructions on getting baptized.
“And after I did that, he said, ‘you need to do some work in the church; how about being youth minister?’ So I agreed to do that, and I became a lecturer at Mass and a co-leader in the youth ministry program for several years.”
In the following years, I stopped working the youth ministry but still made sure to attend Mass.”
“My mother was a very very strong believer in the Baptist Church so I spent a lifetime in church,” he said. “She did a real good job of making me feel that if I was not of service to God, and was not going to church, that bad things would happen to me.”
Today, Anderson andd his wife, Audrey, are members of St. Bernadette’s parish in Los Angeles. Anderson is also the Director of the African American Catholic Center for Evangelization (AACCFE) for the Archdiocese, and served from 1989 to 2003 on the California state African American Museum Board. He is also a Knight of Peter Claver, a Knight of Columbus and a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher of Jersualem.
One of his greatest accomplishments occurred while Anderson was volunteering at the African American Catholic Center, when Cardinal Mahoney appointed him volunteer director. For the past 13 years, Anderson has developed programs and activities to promote the center, and his outreach to more than 25 parishes ensures there will be greater communication between parishes for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ African American parishioners.
Prescious Robinson, President of the African American Catholic Centre Parish Rep Advisor Council, heard great things about Anderson when her sister was working as the executive secretary at California State African American Museum in Exposition Park, where Anderson was serving as the volunteer Interim Director.
“Ruby was always telling me about this wonderful person they had and all the good qualities he displayed,” Prescious said. “Then I formally met Andy at an AACCFE event and I became a member of the AACCFE Parish Representative Council.”
Prescious praised Anderson for his “calmness, fairness and objectivity.”
“And even when he’s disagreeing with you, it’s not adversary,” she said. “He is very very strong-willed and very sensitive. He listens, he doesn’t make snap judgments. He’s truly dedicated to his faith – it exudes in all the walks of life that I see him in. He has the characteristics of a great leader.”
In other efforts, Anderson and his wife are liturgists for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Mass and annual Black History Mass at the Cathedral. The couple also developed the Sr. Thea Bowman Youth Music Academy and the annual Living Stations Presentation.
Additionally, Anderson is a member of the LMU Center for Religion and Spirituality Advisory Board, a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, and Board Member on the St. Peter Claver Foundation Board.
Although his mother died two years ago at age 94, the life lessons she instilled in Anderson will always remain.
“She raised us by herself – she believed that God would provide,” he said. “She lived a tough life and what she found in living that life was that God provides.”
Anderson is the father of four children, Wayne, Todd, Anthony and Audra; and grandfather of five, Geoffrey, David, Robert, Taylor and Amaya. He raised his children knowing and loving God as he was raised by his mother.
As a recipient of the 2018 Cardinal’s Awards, Anderson hopes to inspire others.
“I hope that in receiving this award that someone will take that as an encouragement to step out and do something boldly within the Church,” he said. “Because if I can do it, they can also do it.”