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 nominees!

Stay tuned - beginning on April 11th, we’ll announce the 2013 Lumen Christi Award Finalists!

2013 Lumen Christi Award Nominees (alphabetical by diocese)

Diocese A - F

Diocese G - O

Diocese P - Z

Manna House Ministries

Manna House Ministries

Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana

A Feast at the Table of Plenty
Since 1990, the Manna House in Alexandria, Louisiana, has been serving more than hot meals—it has been serving hope. Founded by Father Gerard Foley and now staffed by volunteers of all denominations, this busy soup kitchen is open year-round and serves an average of 160 meals daily. The homeless, the working poor, the unemployed and those living on fixed incomes rely on this “no questions asked” ministry to fill their empty stomachs and affirm their human dignity. 


Sister Milagrosa

Mother Maria De La Milagrosa, AP
Mother Maria De Las Victorias, AP
Sister Maria Josefina, AP

Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska

A Quiet Witness to the Power of Prayer
Twenty-seven years ago, seven Sisters of Perpetual Adoration made the long journey from Guadalajara, Mexico to the cold climes of Anchorage, Alaska and they established a cloistered, contemplative monastery in one of the most secular areas of our country. Today, three of the original seven sisters remain: Mother Milagrosa, Mother Victorias and Sister Josefina. Their tireless prayers offer spiritual support to the local Church. By their very presence, the sisters have spread joy, peace and comfort to the community, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Six new sisters have joined them and are ensuring that their quiet witness will continue to serve the Church in Alaska for generations to come.


Gustavo Ruiz

Deacon Gustavo Ruiz

Diocese of Baker, Oregon

Blazing a Trail of Love
As the Hispanic population grows in the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, so does the ministry of Deacon Gustavo “Gus” Ruiz. To counter the lack of Spanish-speaking priests, Deacon Ruiz takes to the road on a regular basis, covering thousands of miles as he reaches out to Latinos. Almost singlehandedly, Deacon Ruiz has developed the diocesan programs that speak to the spiritual needs of this growing community. His work with Hispanic couples struggling in their marriages has been a strong witness to the sacrament of Matrimony and the value of family life. Greatly respected by both the Hispanic and Anglo communities, Deacon Ruiz is building a bridge of faith throughout Oregon.


Jesus Abrego

Jesus Abrego

Diocese of Beaumont, Texas

Mentoring Leaders By Modeling Faith
In the past two years, the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas, has seen a 55% increase in the number of registered Hispanic Catholics. Jesus Abrego, Director of Hispanic Ministry, has been there to welcome them all with open arms. He encourages new parishioners to enter more deeply into parish life and to embrace leadership roles as well. The Annual Diocesan Hispanic Family Conference he founded has grown so large, five locations are required to accommodate the crowd. His youth/young adult leadership programs have evolved into three rungs, creating a comprehensive “ladder” to leadership. There are literally thousands of graduates from these programs who are now involved in their parishes or actively volunteering on diocesan projects.


Manna House Ministries

Sister Julia Huiskamp, DC

Diocese of Belleville, Illinois

From Bullets to a Better Future
When she began her ministry in the housing projects of East St. Louis, Illinois, it wasn’t uncommon for Sister Julia Huiskamp, DC, to sweep up bullet casings by the dustpan-full in her office. She founded the Griffin Center as a safe haven for the community’s children. In its first year, 30 children were welcomed at the single location center. Nearly 30 years later, the program has served literally hundreds of children at multiple sites. From after-school tutoring to violence prevention training, Sister Huiskamp’s encouragement has given children a chance to succeed. Her faith has given them something even greater—the gift of hope for a better tomorrow.


Manna House Ministries

Theresa Pavlov

Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi

A Prescription for Health and Hope
In 1997, Theresa Pavlov observed a troubling trend: many people along the Mississippi Gulf Coast were forced to choose between paying for food and purchasing their medications. Recognizing that a choice between food and medicine was no choice at all, Pavlov and members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society founded a free pharmacy to help all those in need. The pharmacy, the only one of its kind in South Mississippi, distributes more than $1.5 million worth of medication each year. As its unpaid executive director for 11 years and serving as a volunteer now, Pavlov’s faith and vision has brought comfort, security and hope to those who feared finances would trump their health.


Manna House Ministries

Sister Lucille Heidt, OSB

Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota

A Ministry of Presence Powered by Grace
On the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, Sister Lucille Heidt, OSB, has been a trusted, steady presence for more than 20 years. Fueled by her love of Christ, Sister Heidt gives freely of herself, serving the community in dozens of roles: as a catechist, a member of the pastoral council, a prayer partner, a bereavement minister, and so much more. Beloved by the people, Sister Heidt was “adopted” into a Native American family clan several years ago and given the honorary name, Hovering Eagle Woman.


Manna House Ministries

Richard Gallegos

Diocese of Boise, Idaho

Faith Unchained
For men and women serving a prison sentence, hope can be hard to find. But thanks to the tireless efforts of Richard Gallegos, inmates throughout Idaho know that no one is beyond God’s redeeming love. Since 2000, Gallegos and a dedicated team of ministers have been shining light into the darkness of prison cells. This sweeping ministry offers everything from Masses and Reconciliation to retreats and spiritual counseling. As much as the inmates have grown in faith, Gallegos’ ministry has also spoken to the hearts of the faithful across the diocese. Challenged by his example, more than 130 lay people have stepped forward to volunteer.


Manna House Ministries

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.


Deacon Abel

Deacon Courtney Abel

Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota

Faith, Family and Forgiveness
Deacon Courtney Abel has followed the way of the cross for most of his life. As a Vietnam veteran, Deacon Abel was exposed to Agent Orange. Years later, he was diagnosed with cancer and depression. As if these weren’t challenging enough, an interfamilial murder resulted in his brother’s death and his nephew’s imprisonment. Through it all, Deacon Abel has remained faithful. He regularly visits his nephew, witnessing to God’s forgiveness and love. His experiences at the jail have inspired him to organize a new prison ministry for the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota. So great is the need for this new ministry that six clergymen from several denominations are joining Deacon Abel.


sister Patricia Scherer

Sister Patricia Scherer

Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa

Lighting the Way for Refugees
For refugees arriving in the United States, Sister Patricia Scherer is a welcome sight. Like a guiding light, she has helped thousands of people from Europe, Asia and Africa settle into a new life in their adopted home. While basic needs (like housing and employment) are a large part of Sister Scherer’s ministry, it is her spiritual support that has brought about real change. She has suffered with the refugees, taking their burdens onto her own heart and helping them heal in this country. Thanks to her gentle, loving witness, thousands of people have been baptized. She has invited them into a bustling parish life at St. Ambrose Cathedral, creating a new sense of community among the refugees. Although Sister Scherer is now retired, she remains actively involved in refugee ministry.


Sister Dorothy Giloley

Sister Dorothy Giloley, SSJ

Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska

A Faith Spanning 400,000 Miles
There’s a light shining in the long, dark Alaskan night and her name is Sister Dorothy Giloley, SSJ. As Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska, Sister Giloley is responsible for the faith formation of children and adults across more than 400,000 square miles. With so few priests to serve this area, Sister Giloley trains lay leaders, giving them the tools and resources they need to spread the faith. Her guidance is invaluable for Catholic schools and youth ministry as well. With the spirit of determination Alaskans are known for, this Philadelphia native has embraced the people of her new home with a passion to share Christ’s love.


Mary Pat Jahner

Mary Pat Jahner

Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota

One Mother, One Baby, One Family at a Time
For women facing a crisis pregnancy, hope can quickly disappear. But at St. Gianna’s Maternity Home in Warsaw, North Dakota, hope is born daily through the loving presence of Mary Pat Jahner. As director of the Home, Jahner has created a warm, welcoming place for expectant mothers. This faith-filled sanctuary affirms the inherent dignity of each unborn child while building a sense of self worth for each mother. Through prayer and prenatal care, Jahner and the Home serve every guest with joy. Since the Home opened in 2003, 80 babies have been saved. And while their stay at the Home eventually comes to an end, the love each guest receives stays with them for a lifetime.


Reverand Andrew Buvala

Father Andrew Buvala, OFM

Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan

A Tireless Son of the Church
Ordained to the priesthood 65 years ago, Father Andrew Buvala, OFM, has the energy of a man half his age. At 91 years young, he is the pastor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish and the diocesan director of the Native American Apostolate, pouring himself daily into a ministry that spreads Christ’s light and love. Father Buvala learned the Odawa language and has incorporated the traditions of his Odawa and Chippewa parishioners into the parish’s liturgy and life. A gifted musician, he has written songs and produced a hymnal to keep the expression of Catholic faith alive in the native language. With typical Franciscan charisma, Father Buvala’s commitment to sharing the Gospel has sustained Native American Catholics in their faith.


Carmen Cornoa

Carmen Corona

Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska

With Compassion As Her Guide
For immigrants seeking legal help in Grand Island, Nebraska, Carmen Corona is a lifeline. As a former volunteer turned full-time staff member, Corona works at Saint Mary’s Immigration Program, founded in 2007 as a ministry of Saint Mary’s Cathedral. Many clients come to her overwhelmed with fear. They have often been taken advantage of as they work to obtain citizenship. But Corona’s compassion has changed all that. With great sensitivity and skill, she has built trust among the immigrant community. In the midst of their fear, she witnesses to God’s providence while modeling good citizenship. Touched by her generosity and concern, her clients participate fully in the life of the community and the Church as they become naturalized citizens.


Ellen Lierk

Ellen Lierk

Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska

Grounded in Prayer, Confident in Grace
In the Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska, priests are in high demand and short order. Gifted lay ministers play a vital role in sustaining the Church here. First called to pastoral ministry in 2001, Ellen Lierk is one such lay leader. Reflecting on her ministry, she likens herself to yeast. Although she isn’t visible in the “dough,” her presence and action as a pastoral minister helps lift love throughout her parish and community. Gifted at encouraging others into service, Lierk directs the RCIA program, facilitates Scripture study and coordinates faith-sharing groups. But her greatest witness to others has been her unshakable faith in Christ. After her husband survived a hostage situation at their family’s local business, Lierk showed the community at large the meaning of Christian love by forgiving the perpetrator.


Sister Mary Dostal

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.


Robert Gorman

Robert Gorman

Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana

Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana
As the Executive Director of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux, Louisiana, there’s no such thing as a “normal” day for Robert Gorman. You might find him working on a stewardship project to protect the region’s coastal wetlands. He might be visiting the Assisi Bridge House, the successful halfway house he helped develop for chemically dependent men. His projects are so diverse and yet so Christ-centered that Gorman’s presence can be felt in the daycare he helped save and heard in the stories of hurricane survivors. No matter where any given day takes him, Gorman’s strong faith has been a beacon of hope and an agent of change in the boot tip of Louisiana.


Sister Anne Brooks

Sister Anne Brooks, SNJM, D.O.

Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi

A Healing Touch for All Who Suffer
There are only five Catholics in Tutwiler, Mississippi and Sister Anne Brooks, SNJM, D.O., is one of them. (The other four are also women religious.) After completing her Doctor of Osteopathy degree in 1982, Sister Brooks felt a call to serve the impoverished residents of the Mississippi Delta region. With the help of Catholic Extension donors, she opened the Tutwiler Clinic and began providing medical care along with her prayers. With 70% of her nearly 8,000 patients uninsured, Sister Brooks’ service is truly a labor of love. As a visible sign of the Church’s preferential option for the poor, Sister Brooks and her fellow sisters are bringing hope and healing to those who suffer in body and spirit.


Sister Rosemary Tierney

Sister Rosemary Tierney, CSJ

Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan

An Advocate, a Counselor and a Friend in Christ
Sister Rosemary Tierney, CSJ, retired from her role with the Diocese of Kalamazoo’s Hispanic Ministry in 1999. But retirement wasn’t really in Sister Tierney’s vocabulary. She quickly began the Immigration Assistance Program, a ministry providing low-cost legal representation to the immigrant population in southwestern Michigan (a group which has grown 60% since 1990.) Last year, she served 483 clients with boundless energy, helping them become U.S. citizens, apply for work permits and navigate their new home. 


Lordes 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. 


Jim Romer

Jim Romer

Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee

A Visible Sign of Christ’s Love
Representing just .4% of the population in Fentress County, Tennessee, Catholics are a minority. But thanks to Jim Romer, the Catholic faith is as visible as the Appalachian hills. Under Romer’s dynamic leadership, the tiny Catholic community (along with Catholic Extension donors) built St. Christopher’s Church on a hill for all to see. As a lay minister, Romer has built even more—his personal outreach to the local Hispanic community has resulted in a flourishing ministry, complete with Spanish language communion services. And while Romer builds faith within the parish, he also carries it outside of the parish’s doors. As an attorney, he is a daily witness to Christ’s love as he conducts pro bono work with the poor, the elderly and migrant workers who have come to know and trust this gracious man.


Kimberly Boudreaux

Kimberly Boudreaux

Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana

A Missionary Through and Through
Kimberly Boudreaux has always lived out her faith in service to the poor. As a young adult, she sold all her possessions and joined a missionary group, ministering around the world. Upon her return to the United States, Boudreaux began working in the mission fields of Louisiana. In 2005, she became the executive director of the Lafayette Catholic Service Centers. These eight centers provide food, clothing and shelter while ministering to the spiritual welfare of their guests. Tenacious in her efforts to give a voice to the voiceless, Boudreaux partners with schools, churches and civic groups to elevate awareness of the poor. Her respect for life is so profound that even those who have passed away and remained unclaimed in the local morgue received a proper funeral Mass and burial at her urging.


Monsignor 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.


Deacon Bill Grimes

Deacon Bill Grimes

Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky

Affirming Life, One Patient at the Time
Each year, 2,000 people enter the doors of the New Hope Clinic in Owingsville, Kentucky, in search of medical care. There they meet Deacon Bill Grimes, whose compassion and healing touch has been a sign of hope to the low income, uninsured residents of this rural area. Treating each patient as a beloved child of God, Deacon Grimes provides basic medical services grounded in a deep respect for life. Inspired by his example, volunteers throughout the community have offered more than 29,000 hours of their own time and talent, as well as their treasure, to serve the clinic’s patients.


Jaime Torres

Jaime Torres

Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas

Forming Faith, Re-forming Youth
Jaime Torres had a difficult childhood. Caught up in a gang and addicted to drugs, a brush with the law inspired Torres to ask for Christ’s help. And Christ answered, turning Torres into a powerful example of His saving love. As the associate director of Hispanic Ministry for the diocese, Torres uses his own experiences to reach at-risk youth. His Fuerza Transformadora (“Transforming Power”) program helps young people turn away from gang life and substance abuse—more than 500 of them at this writing. Torres is also passionate about faith formation and founded nine schools of evangelization across Arkansas. The response has been so positive that this year, the program will be offered in English.


Room at the Inn

Room at the Inn

Diocese of Marquette, Michigan

The Gift of Hope and New Beginnings
Founded in 2007 under the umbrella of Catholic Social Services, Room at the Inn is a ministry that cuts across denominational lines to serve the homeless living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. More than 1,000 volunteers from 12 local churches have joined together in this ecumenical outreach since its inception. The emergency shelter offers each guest two hot meals and a bed, as well as affirmation of their dignity and worth. For those who seek refuge during a difficult time, there is always a light on and room to welcome them at the inn.


Monsignor Mark Rowan

Monsignor Mark Rowan

Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

Serving God and Country, Wherever He is Sent
As a Chaplain Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve, Monsignor Mark Rowan has presided over Masses in unlikely locations. From dining halls to morgues, Monsignor Rowan brings the light of Christ wherever it is needed. Currently deployed in Kuwait, Monsignor Rowan has served in the Air Force for 21 years and has been deployed 14 times. His ministry offers hope to the troops, who grapple daily with the difficult questions that result from war. His reserve status gives him unique insight to the needs of the troops as they return home, too. 


Sister Sandra Ann Silva

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. 


Sarah Nelson

Sarah Nelson

Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado

A Faithful Worker in the Vineyard of the Lord
A convert to Catholicism, Sarah Nelson knows her faith and is passionate about teaching and sharing it with others. As the director of religious education at the Shrine of St. Therese, she constantly seeks out new ways to engage parishioners in faith formation. In addition to sacramental preparation and essential religious education classes, she has brought new programs into the parish that focus on rallying the youth. She has recruited popular speakers to visit Pueblo and coordinated March for Life and World Youth Day activities with other groups throughout the diocese. By building a network, encouraging volunteers and creating new ministry opportunities, Sarah Nelson is brightly illuminating her community.


Father John Hatcher

Father John Hatcher, SJ

Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota

Nurturing Self-Sufficiency With Love
As president of the St. Francis Mission, Father John Hatcher, SJ, would like to work himself out of a job. His goal is to establish a self-sustaining local church on the Rosebud Reservation, where he ministers to the Lakota people. Based on his collaborative approach to ministry, he’s on his way to success. Despite socio-economic difficulties on the reservation and losing more than 20 youth to suicide last year, Father Hatcher’s temporal work is bearing spiritual fruit. Mass attendance is on the rise. More than 400 children attend religious education each week. And the Lakota themselves are leading nearly every St. Francis Mission program. 


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!


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.


Ivona Mauga

Ivona Mauga

Diocese of Samoa – Pago Pago, American Samoa

Keeping Christ at the Center
On a small island in the South Pacific, Ivona Mauga has been doing her part to keep the Catholic faith alive and thriving. A mother of 10, she began serving the diocese as secretary to the bishop in 1987. Since then, she has become the chancellor, an immigration liaison officer and tribunal administrator assisting in annulment cases and helping couples reconcile their marriages in the Church. Mauga’s contributions don’t end there. As president of the Eucharistic League, Mauga promotes adoration and Catholics who attend regularly express their experience of renewal in Christ’s presence. Her work with the youth and the Angel Choir has been building faith for the next generation of the Church.


Deacon Pat Rodgers

Deacon Pat Rodgers

Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas

Broadcasting Faith, 24/7
Deacon Pat Rodgers knows a bit about sharing faith with an audience. As the communications director for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas, the archdiocesan newspaper, website and media relations all come under his purview. As a veteran broadcaster and the executive producer of Catholic Television of San Antonio (CTSA), he oversees one of the few, full-time Catholic television channels in the country. CTSA reaches more than 350,000 homes throughout the Archdiocese. Because CTSA isn’t beholden to ratings like most television stations, the Archdiocese can focus on its mandate to spread the Gospel through both original programming and its affiliation with the Eternal Word Television Network. 


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.


Sister Rita Schonhoff

Sister Rita Schonhoff

Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Ministering to the Soul While Healing the Body
The five county region where Sister Rita Schonhoff lives and works is one of the poorest in Missouri and home to few Catholics. When she arrived here in 1989, she quickly saw the need to provide health care to this vulnerable population. Sister Schonhoff founded Whole Health Outreach (WHO) and several off-shoot programs, offering health and social services that also minister to the human spirit. Her work spans school counseling for at-risk teens to home visits and fitness programs for the elderly. Embracing Sister Schonhoff’s vision, volunteers from local health centers, churches and other organizations have stepped forward to share their time and talent with WHO’s 2,500 clients.


Florence John-Jules

Florence John-Jules

Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands

Privileged to Serve the Poor
For more than 42 years, Florence John-Jules has been feeding the hungry and helping the homeless on the island of St. Croix. John-Jules is an employee of Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands. Many of her clients come to the Christiansted Soup Kitchen for a meal (she serves approximately 35-40 people five days a week.) But for those who do not or cannot come to the kitchen, John-Jules knows just where to find them. Three time a week, she and her assistant load their truck with 40 hot meals, clean clothing and toiletries and head mid-island. 


Digna & Jose Lopez

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.


Phillip Heslin

Monsignor Philip Heslin

Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin

A Light in the Harbor
Most Catholics in the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, know Monsignor Philip Heslin for his energetic leadership at the Catholic Charities Bureau (CCB) where he served for 25 years. As CCB’s director from 1962 to 1987, Monsignor Heslin was not interested in business as usual. He steered CCB down a new path, reaffirming its Catholic heartbeat while striving to offer social services not previously available in northern Wisconsin. His willingness to rethink CCB led to assistance for the developmentally disabled and the elderly. Since CCB, Monsignor Heslin has shown great insight in serving the diocese. His parish clustering plan has allowed faith communities in the diocese to flourish while sharing priests. His current ministry as a hospital chaplain brings comfort to those who suffer.


Don and Sylvia Brule

Don and Sylvia Brule

Diocese of Yakima, Washington

From Burma to Yakima – A Connection Through Christ
Little did Don and Sylvia Brule imagine how $12 per month could change lives when they met Father John Gawdy nearly 20 years ago. Father Gawdy, a native of Burma, befriended the Brules during his stay in the United States. He shared with them the needs of the boys living at the St. Dominic Boarding Home in his homeland. As the stories unfolded, the Brules knew they could help these boys. They created the “Father Gawdy Boys” program at Holy Family Parish. Through the Brule’s fundraising efforts, more than 250 sponsors are supporting 160 boys. The funds provide medical care, housing, food, clothing and schooling, dramatically changing life for these boys. But the greatest blessings of all are the vocations coming from St. Dominic’s. To date, four priests have been ordained and six seminarians are in formation. Thanks to the Brules love, the Church is growing in Asia.