Twelve Finalists Selected for 35th Annual National Lumen Christi (‘Light of Christ’) Award Honoring Service and Commitment to Ministry

Each Finalist Receives $5,000 Grant from Catholic Extension; Recipient to Receive $50,000 Grant for Ministry and Diocese

CHICAGO – May 9, 2012 – Catholic Extension today announced that it has selected 12 finalists for its 35th Annual Lumen Christi (“Light of Christ”) Award. The Lumen Christi Award was established by Catholic Extension to honor the “hidden heroes” of the Catholic Church—outstanding individuals, groups or ministries that have shown an extraordinary commitment and ongoing dedication to sharing the Light of Christ through ministry in their diocese. Finalists were identified and nominated by their bishop for this honor. In the spirit of Catholic Extension’s mission to build faith, inspire hope and ignite change through supporting poor mission dioceses throughout the U.S., each finalist will receive a $5,000 grant for their ministry.

The Lumen Christi Award recipient will be named this fall. The honor comes with a $50,000 grant, shared equally by the recipient and the nominating diocese. The recipient is chosen based on several factors, including a panel of judges. The public has the opportunity to show their support by voting for their favorite finalist through the Catholic Extension Facebook page now through Friday, June 1, 2012.

“The Lumen Christi Award is a perfect expression of Catholic Extension’s mission,” said Catholic Extension President Father Jack Wall. “Together with our donors, we want to bring the Light of Christ to the poorest and most under-resourced faith communities in America. These 12 finalists have an extraordinary passion and commitment to sharing the Light of Christ with others through their ministries, and we are pleased to honor and support them in their work as they build faith, inspire hope and ignite change throughout America.” The 12 finalists are:

Participants include:

  • David Balch of the Diocese of Monterey, a director of youth and young adult ministry
  • Reverend John Hatcher, SJ of the Diocese of Rapid City, a Catholic priest ministering to the Lakota community
  • Reverend Peter Zalewski of the Diocese of Pensacola, a Catholic priest, regional Catholic television program host and an Air Force Reserve chaplain
  • Gloria Coronado of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, a Catholic radio network producer and host
  • Jaime Torres of the Diocese of Little Rock, an associate director of Hispanic ministry and Catholic rap artist
  • Jesus Abrego of the Diocese of Beaumont, a director of Hispanic ministry
  • Lourdes Garza of the Diocese of Knoxville, a director of Hispanic ministry
  • Mary Pat Jahner of the Diocese of Fargo, a co-founder of a maternity home
  • Richard Gallegos of the Diocese of Boise, a prison ministry volunteer leader
  • Room at the Inn of the Diocese of Marquette, an interdenominational community shelter
  • Sister Mary Susanne Dziedzic, CSSF, Sister Mary Johnna Ciezobka, CSSF and Sister Mary Jacqueline Benbenek, CSSF of the Diocese of Charleston, Felician sisters working to improve community resources and safety
  • Sister Marie Rose Messingschlager, CDP of the Diocese of Duluth, a pastoral minister to Native American communities

“Emerging Catholic Leaders is an opportunity for young adult Catholics to experience all the beauty and diversity of the Catholic Church in America,” said Catholic Extension President Father Jack Wall. “They will also witness the great financial need our mission dioceses face. Our participants were selected by their local parishes and dioceses based on their passion and leadership in their church. We’re proud to introduce them to the work of Catholic Extension and assist them in their roles as emerging leaders in the Catholic faith.”

For more information on this event, visit the Emerging Catholic Leaders page on the Catholic Extension website.

“Catholic Extension is committed to building a network of young Catholic leaders,” Fr. Wall continued. “We were blessed to have this opportunity to come together to share ideas that will ultimately strengthen the Church’s outreach to young adults.”


About Catholic Extension

Catholic Extension uniquely contributes to the growth and vibrancy of the church in the U.S. by strategically investing in poor mission dioceses to unleash the power of faith that transforms hearts, lives and society. Based in Chicago, this national organization provides funding resources to dioceses and parishes through programs and services investing in people, infrastructure and ministries. This support is given based on need, passion and commitment to the growth of the Catholic faith. Since 1905, Catholic Extension has distributed more than $500 million to communities across America For more information, visit www.catholicextension.org