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Catechetical Leaders, Catechists Receive Honors

The Archdiocesan Catechetical Office last weekend recognized 43 individuals who had given at least 25 years to catechetical ministry, and presented special awards for extraordinary service to three priests, a religious sister and a layman.

The annual ceremony took place Nov. 11 at the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Center in Ossining. Auxiliary Bishop Gerald T. Walsh, vicar for clergy and episcopal vicar for Rockland, Central Westchester, South Shore and Yonkers, presided.

The Terence Cardinal Cooke Award went to Bishop Walsh and Msgr. Edward J. Weber, director of priest personnel and former pastor of St Francis of Assisi, West Nyack. The award honors catechetical leaders, clergy, parish directors and coordinators of religious education, and others directly involved in catechetical leadership. It attests to extraordinary commitment, support and leadership.

The Good Shepherd Award winners were Father Thomas J. Byrnes, pastor of Sacred Heart parish, Monroe, and Sister Rose O’Rourke, O.P., director of religious education at that parish, for their excellent catechetical program and commitment to handing on the faith to children and youth.

Also winning the Good Shepherd Award was Anthony M. DiMarco, director of strategic initiatives for Marist College in Poughkeepsie. His creativity and collaboration, and the support of Marist President, Dr. Dennis Murray, enables the Catechetical Office to offer online formation courses. The Good Shepherd Award is given to outstanding persons serving in catechetical ministry.

The Catechetical Medal of Honor for religious education leaders who have served for 25 years or more was presented to six leaders of parish programs for children and three leaders of parish adult faith formation/RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).

The honorees were Sharron Charlton, director of RCIA /adult faith formation, Our Lady of Peace, Manhattan, 40 years; Sister Mary McCarthy, P.B.V.M., director of RCIA /adult faith formation, Sacred Heart, Newburgh, 40 years; Sara Koshofer, coordinator of religious education, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Shrub Oak, 27 years; Mignolia De La Vega, coordinator of religious education, Our Lady of Lourdes, Manhattan, 25 years; Michelle Metelski, coordinator of religious education, Sacred Heart, Esopus, 25 years; Jose Rosario, director of religious education, St. Jude, Manhattan, 25 years; Roseann Swart, coordinator of religious education, St. Mary’s, Kingston, 25 years; Jane Bunt, coordinator of RCIA, Holy Trinity, Poughkeepsie, 25 years; and Sister Constance M. Koch, O.P., 25 years, director of RCIA/adult faith formation, Holy Family, New Rochelle, 25 years.

Also honored were archdiocesan Catechetical Office staff members Oscar Cruz, director of the catechumenate, family catechesis and formation of adult faith formation leaders, 26 years, and Nancy Doran, director of catechist formation and director of religious education, St. Francis of Assisi, West Nyack, 25 years.

A special tribute award was presented to Sister Kevin John Shields, O.P., regional catechetical director for Sullivan and Orange counties, who is in her 36th year of catechetical ministry.

The Medal of Honor for catechists who have served 25 or more years was presented to 32 men and women, including Mary Bova of Sacred Heart, Dobbs Ferry, who has been a catechist for 45 years, and to Frances Lopez and Mario Camacho, who have given 35 and 31 years, respectively, at Blessed Sacrament, the Bronx.

Other honorees included Rosanna L. Hamm, Immaculate Conception, Amenia, 30 years; Patricia Hayes, Holy Family, New Rochelle, 30 years; Ruth Skelton, Our Lady of Pity, Staten Island, 30 years; Christine Juliano, Our Lady of Pity, Staten Island, 28 years; Julia Gliatta, St. Anastasia, Harriman, 27 years; Judi Chiodo-Kennedy, St. Stephen the Martyr, Warwick, 27 years; and Nancy Vertucci, St. Francis of Assisi, West Nyack, 27 years.

Honored for 25 years of service were Mary Ellen Beitel, St. Augustine, Larchmont; Barbara Burt, St Joseph-St. Thomas, Staten Island; Theresa Carlson, Our Lady of Loretto, Cold Spring; Haydee Castillo, St. Margaret Mary, the Bronx; Margaret DiCarlo, St. Peter’s, Monticello; Karen DiDio, Our Lady Star of the Sea, Staten Island; John Hum, Transfiguration, Manhattan; Frances Kuhn, St. Paul’s, Bullville; Patricia Laquidara, St. Charles, Staten Island; Louis Martinez, St. Margaret Mary, the Bronx; Kate Merker, St. Patrick’s, Bedford; Miriam Muse, St. Stephen the Martyr, Warwick; Sharon O’Hara, St. Charles, Staten Island; Linda Pacion, Our Lady of Assumption, Bloomingburg; Sonia Perez, Blessed Sacrament, the Bronx; Richard Remy, St. Columba’s, Hopewell Junction; Theresa Rizzo, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scarsdale; Diana Roda, Our Lady of Loretto, Cold Spring; Theresa Sherman, St. Charles, Staten Island; Deacon Warren Testa, St. Columba’s, Hopewell Junction; Alexandra Valle, Blessed Sacrament, the Bronx; and Maureen Vincent, St. Patrick’s, Bedford.

During the certification ceremony, three coordinators of religious education received Catechetical Leadership Certificates for completing a three-year program in Advanced Leadership Formation. They are: Margaret Cairney, Sacred Heart, Patterson; Mignolia de la Vega, Our Lady of Lourdes, Manhattan; and Lynne DeVuono, St. Anthony’s, Nanuet.

A pin was presented to 19 religious education leaders who have completed Basic Leadership Training. Two youth leaders and four adult faith formation leaders also earned pins.

One hundred forty-four catechists at Level I, Level 2 or renewal were certified. Two adult faith formation catechists also were certified at Level I. Additionally, 46 high school students from Msgr. Farrell High School and 21 from Moore Catholic High School, both on Staten Island, were certified as having completed Level I Catechist Certification.

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