Thank you for showing your support for our 2012 Lumen Christi Award finalists. The Lumen Christi Award is given to an individual or group working in one of America’s mission dioceses who shares the light of Christ with the communities they serve. Through their ministries, these hidden heroes stand witness to the transformative power of faith that changes hearts, lives and society.

2012 Lumen Christi Award Finalists


David Balch
Diocese of Monterey, CA

Capturing the hearts of the youth in Salinas, California is no easy task. But David Balch, the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at Sacred Heart parish, carries a simple and profound message to young people he serves: We are guided by a loving Father and carry His divine spark within us. With this idea at the heart of his ministry, Balch and the teens he mentors have transformed their community by hosting retreats and events, faith-sharing groups, a March for Peace, and sharing their gifts and talents in service to the church.

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Reverend Peter Zalewski
Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, FL

Since 2004, Reverend Peter L. Zalewski has used the power of technology to deliver the Word of God to the people living on the Gulf Coast. His weekly Catholic in America television program, as well as its supplementary apps, CDs and DVDs, explain the beauty and meaning behind Catholic beliefs, and provide a positive public voice for the Church in the Bible Belt. Father Zalewski's media ministry is truly making an impact across three states, uniting hundreds of parishes and organizations, and instilling a sense of pride for Catholics in the region.

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Gloria Coronado
Archdiocese of San Antonio, TX

For Hispanics in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas, Gloria Coronado is truly the voice of the Catholic Church. As owner of Virgen de Guadalupe Media, Gloria produces Catholic radio and media programming that reaches 80% of the region. Through the airwaves, she conveys the mission of Escuela de la Fe (School of Faith)-she founded the San Antonio branch of the Catholic apostolate, which began in Mexico-which focuses on faith formation, and promoting vocations and Catholic values. By hosting events, offering free promotional support for Catholic organizations and encouraging community outreach, Gloria's "on air" evangelization has established a true collaboration between Catholics in the diocese.

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Sister Marie Rose Messingschlager, CDP
Diocese of Duluth, MN

Since 1993, Sister Messingschlager has served Native American communities in the Diocese of Duluth with love and compassion. She oversees the pastoral needs of five reservations with great resourcefulness and energy. She can often be found training lay leaders, visiting individuals and families, advocating for religious education and evangelizing the community through retreats and gatherings. Sister Messingschlager is passionate about connecting people to Christ and the church.

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Reverend John Hatcher, SJ
Diocese of Rapid City, SD

Father John Hatcher is pursuing a dream to celebrate the Catholic faith within the Lakota culture on the Rosebud Reservation. With his "can do" attitude and encouragement of the Lakota to take true ownership of their faith as leaders in the church, Father Hatcher is inspiring hope and igniting change in a community that so often suffers under spiritual, social and economic problems.

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Jaime Torres
Diocese of Little Rock, AR

As a young adult, drugs and gang activity influenced the decisions and the life of Jaime Torres. Today, as Associate Director of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Little Rock, he serves as a shining example of the transformative power of faith. In addition to his diocesan ministries, Torres established the "Fuerza Transformadora" movement that has spread to six cities and reached 520 troubled young adults who desire to change; and developed schools of catechesis to provide the faith formation that was so pertinent to in his own life. His openness, determination and original Catholic rap music make Torres a true role model for the Hispanic youth of Arkansas.

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Room at the Inn
Diocese of Marquette, MI

Room at the Inn is a grassroots community ministry serving the homeless in Marquette, Michigan and the surrounding area. The shelter began under the umbrella of Catholic Social Services in 2006 and quickly grew into an ecumenical ministry with the participation of 12 inter-denominational churches throughout Marquette. Staffed by one social worker and assisted by approximately 1,000 trained volunteers, the shelter meets more than just physical needs. The shelter guests are welcomed with kindness, treated with respect and experience true Christian love in action.

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Lourdes Garza
Diocese of Knoxville, TN

Since 2005, Lourdes Garza has been a source of energy and inspiration for over 60,000 Hispanic Catholics as Director of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Knoxville. Garza is widely known as "mother" to the Hispanic community in 36 counties in east Tennessee, a population that has grown by 114% in the past ten years. She has reached countless young adults through faith formation programs and peer-to-peer ministries, and has built a comprehensive program of outreach, education and faith formation to develop new Hispanic leaders in parishes throughout the diocese.

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Mary Pat Jahner
Diocese of Fargo, ND

Mary Pat Jahner is an inspiring example of how the work of one person can change (and save) the lives of many. As co-founder of St. Gianna's Maternity Home in Minto, North Dakota, Jahner provides gentle guidance for women facing unplanned pregnancies, helping them embrace the dignity of human life and discover their own inherent self worth. At a time when many of these women have nowhere else to turn, Jahner and the Home are there to offer physical, spiritual and emotional support. Whether they stay for a few days, or a few years, visitors leave St. Gianna's with a newfound family and a hope-filled future.

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Felician Sisters  

Felician Sisters of Kingstree, South Carolina
Diocese of Charleston, SC

Shining the light of Christ comes naturally to the Felician Sisters of Kingstree, South Carolina. With total trust in God's love and providence, the three sisters have transformed a crime and poverty-stricken community into a place of real hope and love. Through their exemplary lives and their corporal and spiritual works of mercy, Sisters Dziedzic, Ciezobka and Benbenek have begun to break the generational poverty that plagues Kingstree, South Carolina and the surrounding area. Whether praying with those they serve or feeding the hungry, they have brought God's grace to those in need.

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Jesus Abrego
Diocese of Beaumont, TX

As Director of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Beaumont, Jesus Abrego is instrumental in introducing dynamic new ways to reach the growing Latino population in the state of Texas. For more than ten years, his innovative leadership training and retreat programs-such as the Hispanic Family Conference which drew 2,200 people last year, or the youth-centered Pastoral Juvenil Hispaña-have reached thousands of children, teens and adults. Abrego's efforts are preparing Hispanics to take on increased leadership roles in the church and creating a sense of pride in their contributions to the community.

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Richard Gallegos
Diocese of Boise, ID

Since 2000, Richard Gallegos has put the concrete teachings of the church into action through his prison ministry in the Diocese of Boise. Gallegos has built a network of over 150 lay volunteers to provide outreach, religious instruction, liturgical services and spiritual support to 600 inmates in 20 different correctional institutions across the state of Idaho. In addition, his team has developed an Idaho Research Manual to help inmates re-enter society. Gallegos not only shares the Word of God; he also brings a spirit of compassion and understanding to those who often feel alone and isolated.

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