2013 Lumen Christi Award Finalists

Modeling faith in action, Catholics from Alaska to the Gulf Coast are reaching out to make a difference in their communities. Since 1978, Catholic Extension has been honoring these faithful servants with the Lumen Christi Award. Accompanied by a $50,000 grant ($25,000 for the honoree and $25,000 for the nominating diocese), the Lumen Christi Award is presented to a priest, woman religious, lay person or group of people who have demonstrated how the power of faith can transform lives and society. Read on to meet this year’s finalists!
 

2013 Lumen Christi Award FINALISTS (alphabetical by diocese)

Zita Telkamp

Sister Zita Telkamp, CDP

Diocese of Brownsville, Texas

A Community of Christian Love and Hope
When guests arrive at the emergency shelter La Posada Providencia, they have endured untold hardships. Fleeing from political oppression, natural disasters, poverty and more, they come seeking asylum in the United States. Thankfully, Sister Zita Telkamp, CDP, is there to welcome them with open arms. As director of La Posada, Sister Telkamp does more than offer a roof and a meal—she offers a real community based on Christian love. Every guest is treated like family as they begin the long process of integration into American culture.

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SISTER MARY DOSTAL, OSU

Sister Mary Dostal, OSU

Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Montana

Shining the Light of Christ’s Love on a Suffering Population
Born to a farming family in Montana, Sister Mary Dostal, OSU, didn’t realize the depth of poverty or missionary possibilities in her own state. But after her first ministry assignment teaching on the Flathead Indian Reservation, she fell in love with the Native American people and became a strong advocate for their needs. Along with her counterpart, Sister Pat Funderhide, Sister Dostal founded Angela’s Piazza in Billings to empower native women who have been emotionally and physically abused. Support groups, 12-step programs and classes build confidence in the women as they learn new skills. By coupling these services along with days of prayer and faith formation, Sister Dostal has created a place of true healing and renewal.

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Lourdes Garza

Lourdes Garza

Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee

Sharing Christ with Her Motherly Love
Lourdes Garza is the director of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee. But the title “director” is a bit of a misnomer—to this Hispanic community (which has grown more than 161% in the past decade!), Garza is known as a loving mother to all she serves. Her warm welcome to newcomers provides the invitation they need to become involved in their parishes. Her faith formation classes help Hispanic Catholics of all ages embrace their faith and cultural traditions in this predominantly Protestant region. From prison ministry to youth programming and so much more, the community is blessed with her tireless ministry. Most of all, Garza is known for her luminous faith.

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Robert Getz

Monsignor Robert Getz

Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico

A Light of Christ in the Desert
Retired yet on call to 46 parishes and 45 mission churches throughout the diocese, Monsignor Robert Getz is deeply connected to Catholics across New Mexico’s desert. Over the course of his priesthood, this humble servant of God has celebrated more than 26,400 Masses and administered thousands of sacraments. He founded two schools and established two parishes. Inspired by his example, 10 men have gone to seminary and five women have entered convents. In addition to his service to the people of the diocese, Monsignor Getz cares for the spiritual needs and formation of his brother priests. Knowing the hardships they face in this under-resourced area, his support has led them to greater well-being and given them the strength to continue their own ministries.

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Sister Sandra Ann Silva, SHF

Sister Sandra Ann Silva, SHF

Diocese of Monterey, California

Inspiring Hope with Beans and a Bible
Oaxacan farmworkers in California’s Pajaro Valley are often hidden, living on the margins of society. Even at Mass, they are a silent presence sitting at the back of the church, often unnoticed. With her basket full of beans and a Bible, Sister Sandra Ann Silva, SHF, is on a mission to change that. She seeks them out in their homes or in the fields, inviting them into the community by sharing the good news of Christ’s love. Although many are baptized Catholic, they haven’t received any faith formation. Sister Silva welcomes them as family members, teaching them the faith and preparing them for the sacraments of first Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation and Matrimony.

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Father Gale Hammerschmidt

Father Gale Hammerschmidt

Diocese of Salina, Kansas

It Begins with Prayer and Action
When Father Gale Hammerschmidt was still a seminarian, he began thinking about how to increase youth participation in mission work. His idea was simple: why not engage them in the local mission field? Thus, in 2005, Prayer and Action was born and has been growing ever since. In the Diocese of Salina, Kansas, more than 4,000 youth have already participated. Father Hammerschmidt’s week-long “home mission trips” couple service projects with spiritual formation yielding exciting results. Entire communities are changed as the students pray and serve. Hope is renewed in between fresh coats of paint and rosary recitations. Thanks to the program’s transformational power, four other dioceses are currently seeking to replicate it for their own youth!

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Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald

Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald

Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah

A True Son of the Missions
Born and raised in the mission territory of Utah, Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald is no stranger to the needs of isolated Catholics. During the past five decades, he has been involved in many ministries, but none as close to his heart as ensuring Catholic communities have a place to gather. Monsignor Fitzgerald has been instrumental in helping Catholics move from sharing their faith in living rooms to celebrating Mass in their own, dedicated space. As he established missions across Utah, Monsignor Fitzgerald sought to bring priests, deacons and religious to each community when possible. He has also been a passionate promoter of lay leaders. Thanks to his encouragement, Anglo and Hispanic lay leaders are receiving formal training, allowing them to share Christ throughout the missions as the Church in Utah grows.

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Sister Bernadette Barrett

Sister Bernadette Barrett, SHSP

Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana

Closing Gaps While Building Bridges of Faith
Sister Bernadette “Bernie” Barrett, SHSP, ministers in Lake Providence, Louisiana. Once dubbed the “poorest town in the country,” more than 40% of Lake Providence’s residents live below the poverty line. Passionate about social justice and powered by her faith, Sister Barrett devotes her considerable energy working across race, class, socio-economic standing and denominational lines for the betterment of the community. Her loving calls to action are slowly empowering downtrodden residents to play a role in rehabilitating their town. Sister Barrett’s involvement in various civic organizations and interfaith groups is a strong witness to the Church’s concern for the people of Lake Providence.

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José and Digna López

José and Digna López

Diocese of Stockton, California

They Foster New Leaders Through Their Example
José and Digna López take the long view when it comes to faith. As a married couple active in diocesan ministries, they model a life of Christian service and commitment to family. They believe that while God has planted faith in His people, it is their call to nurture that faith and let it grow. Currently, Hispanics represent 60% of the Diocese of Stockton’s Catholic population. And of this 60%, more than 50% are under the age of 25. Although the López’ ministries focus on several aspects of the Hispanic experience, developing strong lay leaders is at the heart of their mission. For 25 years, the couple has inspired hope for the Church in Stockton. With their steadfast support, they have fostered Hispanics in their faith and invited them to a place at the leadership table.

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