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Archdiocese applauds lay people for service


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Each year, the Archdiocese of Chicago honors lay people who have brought God into their communities with the Bishop Quarter Awards, for those who have given service in their vicariates, and the Christifidelis award, for those who have served their parishes.

The six people who received Bishop Quarter Awards Oct. 7 at Holy Name Cathedral were:

  • Vicariate I; Ron Frost from St. Thomas Becket Parish in Mount Prospect. Frost is a member of the Ministry Commission for Vicariate I and a minister of care and bereavement for 22 years.
  • Vicariate II: Julia Hess from Queen of Angels Parish. Hess works as a Community Religious Worker in the archdiocesan Special Religious Education Program. She has also been a teacher, member of the parish pastoral council, minister of Communion and member of the Liturgical Art and Environment Committee.
  • Vicariate III: Brezhnev Batres from Resurrection Parish: Batres serves as a parish youth minister and has helped organize the confirmation program, including serving on the committee that organizes a deanery-wide confirmation retreat. He also serves on the youth ministry council for Vicariate III.
  • Vicariate IV: Jacek Chaba from St. Hyacinth Basilica, Chaba expanded outreach to Polish youth as youth ministry coordinator for Vicariate IV, and was recently appointed the first youth ministry coordinator for Polish communities.
  • Vicariate V: Mary Weiss of St. Walter Parish has worked with parishes and priests as the bishop’s assistant, has worked with youth at the Newman Center for 18 years and is a lector at St. Walter Parish.
  • Vicariate VI: Carlos Salmeron from Seven Holy Founders Parish. Salmeron assists the deans and vicariate team with the concerns and needs of Hispanic parishes and leads the Oscar Romero Program for Hispanic Lay Leadership.

A total of 202 individuals were honored with the Christifidelis Award, with 145 pastors nominating 78 individuals and 67 married couples or co-chairs.

This year, pairs who received the award ranged from spouses to siblings to mothers and daughters. They were honored for contributions such as work with the poor, maintenance repairs around their parishes and collecting care packages for soldiers, along with many other types of ministry.

Among them were John and Mary Rausch of St. Hubert Parish in Hoffman Estates. John Rausch has been helping with landscaping and gardening at the parish almost daily since he began 28 years ago.

“It started back in 1979, when the pastor said he didn’t know a maple tree from a dandelion, but he went out weeding anyway,” Rausch said. “Some of us latched on to it and said we’d help him. We enjoyed it so much we just kept doing it.”

Rausch finds gardening to be the perfect hobby and ministry, between the satisfaction of working the land and the sense of God he finds in nature.

“It’s rewarding because you’re alone with your thoughts and your prayers,” Rausch said. “When Christ was on earth, he prayed in a garden. Out of doors, you’re close to nature and you’re close to God.”

His wife, Mary, is active in the Stewards of St. Hubert, a group dedicated to fundraising and fellowship.

“When I joined, I met so many wonderful, wonderful people,” she said. “You just find out how much they do. It’s just caring for one another, that sense of community,” she said.

Another recipient of the award was Gwendolyn Currin of St. Dorothy Parish. At 88, she is the last active member of the Legion of Mary in the parish. Currin volunteers for the AIDS Pastoral Care Network and serves as a eucharistic minister. She sees her work as a natural result of her general outlook on life.

“I’m just a person that cares about people,” Currin said. “I don’t care where they came from, what race they are, or if they have nothing. The worst person, the most trodden person—that’s the one we want to reach out to, to tell them that God loves them, to tell them, ‘Don’t give up on your life, you have a future!’”

To Currin, being Christ-like means helping just this sort of person.

“If the Lord was here on earth today he’d be right where I am—that’s what I tell people,” she said. “I want everybody to know that you’ve got to reach out to people that nobody wants,” Currin exclaims, her voice cracking with emotion.

She attributes much of the credit for her work to the organizations of which she’s been part, especially the Legion of Mary. She, along with all of the other recipients interviewed, sees the award as an unnecessary, though pleasant, result of her labor.

“Awards don’t mean nothin’,” Currin said. “If you can be an example for other people, then that’s the award!” Each of the recipients also shares her sentiments in finding that the reward lies in the act of giving.

“It is not me,” she said. “It is what I can give to others that counts. And I hope I can do it ‘til the Lord says my days are through.”

Charlotte Kolesiak of St. Kevin Parish received the award for her work as a sacristan and volunteer of all sorts. She has worked for over 20 years assisting in the parish wherever needed, from opening up the church to running the food pantry to making baptismal gowns for infants.

One of her first ministries began when there were no altar boys, so she decided to help, learning as she went.

“My first experience with incense, I had to light the charcoal and nearly moved all of the people out of the church with all the smoke!” she recalled.

Kolesiak has also served as part of the liturgy committee, as a member of the parish council and as a part-time office worker. The many little ways in which she was at work, however, remained, until more recent years, unknown by the parish.

“For a long, long time people didn’t know what I was doing, but then I was discovered!” she exclaimed, almost ruefully.

A grandmother to 12 children, Kolesiak says her work makes her feel useful and that she simply enjoys what she does.

“For the love of God I do it—that’s all,” said Kolesiak.

For a listing of Christifidelis Award recipients, see below.

The Catholic New World congratulates the following winners of the Christifidelis Award:

Vicariate I: Steve and Michelle Hayes, St. Alphonsus Liguori; George and Mary Lou Spaeth, St. Anastasia; Peggy Sobolewski, St. Anne; Elizabeth Wendt, St. Ansgar; Jacqueline Raslawski, St. Bede; Eileen Egan, St. Cecilia; Esther Foropoulos, St. Colette; Bob and Ginny Gillis, St. Edna; Joyce Zender Hodnett, St. Emily; Mary Pat Williams, St. Francis de Sales; Kay Karrigan, St. Gilbert; Barb and Kurt Knuth, Holy Family, Inverness; Ursula Zinger, Holy Family, Waukegan; Leon and Shirley Blum, Holy Spirit; John and Mary Rausch, St. Hubert; Pastor Martinez, Immaculate Conception, Waukegan; Jo Anne Mullen-Muhr, St. James, Highwood; Jerome and Sandra Dudzik, St. John the Evangelist; Winnie Cox, St. Joseph, Round Lake; Michael and Nancy Knight, St. Joseph, Libertyville; the late Sharon Ward, St. Marcelline; Helga Neubauer, St. Patrick, Wadsworth; John Crigler, Santa Maria del Popolo; Daniel and Jane Sherlock, St. Mary, Buffalo Grove; Alice Valentine, St. Mary, Lake Forest; Carolyn Reinertson, St. Mary of Vernon; Tish Petricca, St. Matthew; Jack and Arden Robinson, Our Lady of Humility; Elizabeth and Jacqueline Gammel, St. Peter, Volo; Thomas and Kathy Pavlik, St. Peter Damian; John and Joan Delisi, Prince of Peace; Marion Henderson, Queen of Peace; Wayne Dean, St. Stephen Protomartyr; Jeff and Laura Prostko, St. Thomas Becket; Patrick and Lorraine Gaughan, Transfiguration, Wauconda; Michael and Susan Meehan, St. Zachary.

Vicariate II: Marge Lawler, St. Benedict, Chicago; Susaan Culjak, Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Croatian Mission; Marnie McHale, St. Clement; Pat Conlon, St. Eugene; Wade and Helen Ray, St. Francis Xavier, Wilmette; Joseph and Judith Konen, Holy Name Cathedral; Daniel and Anna Durkin, Immaculate Conception, Talcott Avenue; Richard and Jana Ashbeck, St. Josaphat; Andy and Kathy Elbert, St. Joseph, Wilmette; Achamma John Mathai Plamoottil, Syro-Malankara Catholic Mission; Richard and Lorraine Klinkenberg, St. Mary of the Woods; Roberta Dieden Mary, Seat of Wisdom; Robert and Mary Pat Collins, St. Monica; Alejandro and Erendira Mondragon, St. Nicholas, Evanston; Mary Pat Kerrigan, St. Norbert; Pam Benitez, Our Lady of Hope; Alice Altiveros, Our Lady of Mercy; George Snurpus, Our Lady of the Brook; Joe and Diana Garvey, St. Paul of the Cross; Paul and Lois Greening, St. Philip the Apostle; Betty Rogus, Queen of Angels; Joseph Kalsch, Sacred Heart, Winnetka; Patricia Malone, St. Tarcissus; Michael and Helen McManus, St. Thecla; Joan Mikol, St. Thomas of Canterbury; Eduardo and Dominga Sanchez, St. Timothy.

Vicariate III: Kenneth and Ulyetta Miles, St. Agatha; Arlene and Robert Zriny, St. Agnes of Bohemia; Pedro and Hilaria Vallejo, St. Aloysius; Antonio Morales, St. Francis of Assisi, Roosevelt Road; Alberto Baylon, St. Francis of Assisi/Our Lady of the Angels; Bernadine Popp, St. Hedwig; Dolores and Casimir Jarmoc, Holy Innocents; Jack and Connie McCartney, Holy Rosary, Western Avenue; Barbara Ignas, Holy Trinity Polish Mission; Lauretta Gembica, St. Hyacinth; Angel Arroyo, St. Mark; Joseph and Janice Bosco, Notre Dame De Chicago; Annie Dodovich, Our Lady of Grace; Margie Natal, Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica; Graciela Bernal, St. Procopius; Mari and Jesus Ortiz, Providence of God; Carlos and Maria Estrada, St. Roman; Amador and Maria Santiago, Santa Maria Addolorata; Salomea Sciborski, St. Wenceslaus.

Vicariate IV: Fred and Sylvia Kania, St. Bartholomew; Anita Grill, St. Bernardine; Leonard and Irene Duszynski, St. Constance; Clory and Lavert Crockett, St. Eulalia; Pat and Jim Mendell, St. Frances of Rome; Anna Marie Sciaraffa, St. Giles; Sarina and the late Jim Butler, St. Luke; Michael and Vivian Jennings, St. Maria Goretti; Terri Gustafson, Mater Christi; Eileen Amoroso, Our Lady, Mother of the Church; Norman and Christine Hege, St. Pascal; Daniel and Maryanne O’Reilly, St. Pius X; Eleanor Wehr, St. Rosalie; Linda Ricchio, St. William.

Vicariate V: Linda Garcia, St. Adrian; Ruth Macey, St. Alexander; Edward and Bernadette Glabicki, St. Barbara, Chicago; Julia and Edward Figura, St. Blase; Frances Finn, St. Cajetan; Stanley Sendra, St. Camillus; Shelia Potempa, St. Christopher; Eustolio and Maria Acosta, St. Clare of Montefalco; Phil and Rosemary Ordaz, St. Damian; Paul and Marianne Kaiser, St. Daniel the Prophet; Elaine Furth, St. Denis; Wally Bekta, St. Elizabeth Seton; Richard Sieracki, St. Francis of Assisi, Orland Park; James Shea, St. Germaine; James and Susan Cunnea, Incarnation; Brian Tishuk, St. James, Sag Bridge; Kenneth Zaragoza, St. Jane De Chantal; Robert and Janet Murray, St. John Fisher; Enrique and Berenice Altamirano, St. Joseph, Hermitage Ave.; Sheila Pluchar, St Julie Billiart; Francis and Colleen Gallagher, St Linus; Pat Arizzi, St. Mary of Perpetual Help; Dolly Pawlak, St. Maurice; Nicolas and Hilda Martinez, St. Michael the Archangel, Damen Avenue; Timothy and Mary Catherine Redmon, Most Holy Redeemer; James and Patricia Bentley, St. Nicholas of Tolentine; Marge Flynn, Our Lady of Good Counsel; June Houston, Our Lady of the Ridge; Mike and Linda Pieczonka, Our Lady of the Snows; George and Pauline Pracz, Our Lady of the Woods; Julia and Janice Ochenkowski, St. Pancratius; Renee Togher, St. Patricia; Joseph O’Shea, Queen of Martyrs; Nelida Aldana, Queen of the Universe; Rosemary Martinotti, Sacred Heart, Palos Hills; Jill Hillock, Santa Lucia-Maria Incoronata; Emil E. Zbella, St. Simon the Apostle; James Free, St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr; Charles and Mary Shilney, St. Symphorosa; Lyn Joda, St. Thomas More; Matt Koman, St. Walter.

Vicariate VI: Barbara Ludien, St. Agnes, Chicago Heights; Mary and Robert Schopp, St. Ann, Lansing; Anniebelle Gaines, St. Benedict the African-East; Carrie Lindsey, St. Benedict the African-East; James and Maryanne Gladney, St. Bride; Gwendolyn Currin, St. Dorothy; Charlotte Kolesiak, St. Kevin; Sylvia Maciel, Immaculate Conception, 88th Street; Karl and Therese Volkman, Infant Jesus of Prague; Carol Chudzynski, St. Isidore the Farmer; Detroy and Lucille Giles, St. John De La Salle; Mary Kozlowski, St. Jude the Apostle; Thomas Cole, St. Lawrence O'Toole; Therese and Leo Tylus, St. Victor.