2014 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!

2014 Lumen Christi Award FINALISTS (alphabetical by diocese)

Zita Telkamp

SERVANT HOUSE
(AGGIE NECK AND DONNA CULOTTA)

Diocese of ALEXANDRIA, LOUISANA

Sacrificing Comfort and Security to Serve the Poor
In 1989, two selfless laywomen made a life-changing commitment to serving the less fortunate. Aggie Neck left her job, and Donna Culotta, together with her husband, Joseph, sacrificed personal savings to buy and restore a house that would be a hub of ministry to the poor. Located in the small community of Marksville, Louisiana, Servant House, which is led by Aggie and Donna, is funded solely by free-will donations. For more than two decades, it has provided food, clothing and Christmas gifts for people with nowhere else to turn. There is no paperwork to fill out and no questions are asked. Servant House also provides a deeper experience of faith, with a monthly healing Mass, prison ministry, religious education, and handmade rosaries for all who enter.

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SISTER MARY DOSTAL, OSU

DEACON GUSTAVO RUIZ

DIOCESE OF BAKER, OREGON

Driving Thousands of Miles Across Oregon to Build Faith
Gustavo Ruiz, is a dedicated deacon who serves as director of Hispanic ministry in the Diocese of Baker, driving 25,000 to 30,000 miles a year across this vast diocese to build faith among the growing Hispanic community. A beloved and respected leader, Deacon Ruiz not only consults with Church leadership, he also visits widely scattered parishes to assist pastors, lay leaders and staff members in meeting the needs of Hispanic Catholics. He works diligently to develop leadership from within the Hispanic community, encouraging and forming catechists, lectors, eucharistic ministers and youth leaders. Whether leading a large-scale diocesan meeting to educate others or driving 250 miles to facilitate a Bible study in a Spanish-speaking parish, Deacon Ruiz is making a difference and growing the Church.

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Lourdes Garza

MISSIONARY SISTERS OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY
(EMILY JOCSON, ICM; CAROLYN KOSUB, ICM; FATIMA SANTIAGO, ICM)

DIOCESE OF BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS

A Radical Commitment to the Poor Leads to a New Parish
In 2003, a rare tornado struck a poor area populated by Mexican immigrants in Penitas, Texas. When three Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary visited this devastated community, they were shocked not only by the destruction, but also by the poverty. They also were moved by the richness of faith there. The sisters saw this as a sign, so they moved into the community and established Proyecto Desarrollo Humano, an outreach center that provides education, medical care and other necessities. In 2009, the sisters deeply enhanced the Church experience for this expanding immigrant community by organizing and building a new parish. St. Anne Church, which was dedicated in 2013, stands as a beacon of hope for the community and a visible reminder of the power of faith.

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Robert Getz

FRANCISCAN FRIARS OF THE FAIRBANKS DIOCESE
(Father Joe Hemmer, OFM; Brother Bob Ruzicka, OFM; Brother Justin Huber, OFM)

DIOCESE OF FAIRBANKS, ALASKA

Shining Christ’s Light in Alaska’s Remote Interior
Father Joe Hemmer, Brother Bob Ruzicka, and Brother Justin Huber have dedicated a collective 70 years of service to missions in Alaska, focusing most recently on eight Athabascan villages in Alaska’s remote interior. While the area around these isolated villages can be breathtakingly beautiful, they are difficult to reach, often with no roads connecting them. In addition, the people there are poor and live a subsistence lifestyle, usually without running water or reliable power sources. It is under these challenging circumstances, including long, dark winters and mosquito-filled summers, that these dedicated men have served, bringing the sacraments, spiritual leadership and the bonds of community to people who otherwise would be neglected.

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Sister Sandra Ann Silva, SHF

DEACON RANDY CANALE

DIOCESE OF LUBBOCK, TEXAS

A Deacon Who Faced His Own Illness Tirelessly Ministers to Others
Randy Canale is a 68-year-old deacon in Lubbock, Texas, whose daily schedule of ministry to the sick and dying inspires everyone around him. A semi-retired businessman, Deacon Canale begins each day with Mass. He then spends hours visiting hospitals and nursing homes, ministering to the ailing and fearful. He is such a fixture in hospitals that he’s often asked by strangers of all denominations to pray with their loved ones. Deacon Canale brings not only his profound faith to this role, he also brings authentic experience from his own bout with cancer, which impaired the vision from one eye, and took the hearing in one ear and the top lobe of his left lung. Deacon Canale has a special gift for ministry. This, together with his deep belief in God’s presence in moments of suffering, provides comfort and hope to all he encounters.

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Father Gale Hammerschmidt

GLORIA CORONADO

DIOCESE OF SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

A Multi-Media Ministry That is Transforming Lives
Gloria Coronado brings a multitude of talents to her role as associate director of Hispanic catechesis in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas. Together with her husband Adrian, she owns and operates Virgen de Guadalupe Radio, a Spanish-language station that for many poor, Spanish-speaking Catholics is the voice of the Church. The station, which reaches nearly one million listeners in Texas, is just one component of Gloria’s broad outreach. She uses the station to promote Church activities, movements and ministries. She then steps out from behind the radio booth to lead religious conferences and connect with people through home visits. Hers is a multi-media ministry – on air and in person – that is bringing people closer to their faith and transforming their lives.

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Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald

FRED AND JO ANN HUDSON

DIOCESE OF SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

Leading a New Ministry for Those Who Serve Our Country
Fred and Jo Ann Hudson, who have been married for 46 years, have been active in many different ministries at both the parish and diocesan level. Having both served in the military, they bring a special dedication to ministering to veterans. Most recently, they have brought their expertise to a new ministry known as “Partners in Care,” a collaboration between the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and the New Mexico National Guard to provide spiritual support and care. Fred and Jo Ann understand the sacrifices of these citizen soldiers and the stress on their families. With their years of experience and commitment to the faith, Fred and Jo Ann are launching a ministry that is a model for other denominations and dioceses who want to increase support for those who serve our nation.

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Sister Bernadette Barrett

SR. RITA SCHONHOFF

DIOCESE OF SPRINGFIELD - CAPE GIRARDEAU, MISSOURI

Providing Healthcare and a Steadfast Presence in Rural Missouri
In 1989, when Sister Rita Schonhoff, a nurse, arrived in rural Missouri after serving in foreign countries, she quickly realized there were desperately poor people in her own backyard – people who didn’t have access to basic healthcare. She started going house to house, treating and educating, but she quickly understood that the needs were more than she could address on her own. In an effort to expand her ministry, she founded Whole Health Outreach, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to providing healthcare and other services, including domestic violence help, to low-income families. Sister Rita knows God’s divine providence is working with her and the staff at Whole Health Outreach. “God hears the cries of the poor,” she says. “If we love them, God will work through us to provide for them.”

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José and Digna López

FATHER DANIEL MODE

ARCHDIOCESE FOR THE MILITARY SERVICES, USA

A War-Zone Military Chaplain Inspired by Others
Father Daniel Mode is a U.S. Navy chaplain who has served in forward areas and ministered to multitudes of men in uniform. He was deployed in Afghanistan for two years and, together with just a few other priests, he ministered to nearly 20,000 troops suffering tremendous losses. Currently, he is assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, bringing God’s presence to the rigid daily routine there. Father Mode finds inspiration in the life of another military chaplain, Father Vincent R. Capodanno who was killed in action in Vietnam. Father Mode completed his master’s thesis on Father Capodanno, which was published as a book titled The Grunt Padre. In 2006, the Church officially proclaimed Father Capodanno a Servant of God, formally initiating the process for consideration for canonization – all because of Father Mode’s advocacy.

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