Archdiocese honors those serving youth and young adults

RANDOLPH -- On April 27, nearly 800 people packed the Grand Ballroom at Lombardo’s for the Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults (ONE) Awards Banquet to honor those who have served in youth and young adult ministry. The list of those honored included 107 middle and high school students, young adults, and lay ministers and priests who serve today’s youth across the archdiocese.

“We hear so often in the news all the problems and challenges associated with young people,” said Father Matt Williams, the archdiocese’s director of youth and young adult ministry. “Tonight is a night to celebrate and honor all the great things that are happening in this city through the Catholic Church.”

Randy Raus, the president of Life Teen, Inc., gave the keynote address and was presented with the Norm Plante Award for helping the New Evangelization office carry out its mission. In his remarks he discussed how the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary introduced by Pope John Paul II help Catholics dynamically live their faith.

Fifteen categories of awards were given at the banquet. The St. Dominic Savio Award is given by the archdiocese to middle school students for service to parish and school and Cardinal’s Awards are given to high school students who are committed to their church or school and have a demonstrated record of Christian service. Those honored were nominated by staff from their parish or school and selected by the archdiocese.

Discipleship Awards were National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) awards given to young people who answer the call of discipleship with parish, school, or community service, and St. Timothy Awards are given by the NFCYM for high school juniors and seniors who exhibit strong Catholic morals, serve others, and take on leadership roles in the parish, school, or community.

Light of the World Awards are an NFCYM honor for adults who serve young people at the parish and school level, and Companions on the Journey Awards were given on behalf of the NFCYM to adults who excel in youth ministry.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Awards were given by the archdiocese to lay people or religious brothers or sisters who demonstrate faith, selflessness, and service to youth.

The Don Bosco Award is given to a priest for service to youth. This year’s recipient was Father Linh Nguyen, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Randolph.

Contributions to youth athletics were also recognized with awards for participation in local CYO programs. Hall of Fame Awards were given to coaches and athletic directors with more than 10 years of service to the CYO, and the St. Sebastian Award is given to an adult who has served youth in the organization for more than five years and displays Christian values.

Young adults were also honored by the archdiocese. The Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Award is given to young adults who are powerful Catholic witnesses, and the Christifideles Laici Award is given to a person who is supportive and welcoming of others.

Sister Olga Yaqob, campus minister at Boston University, won the St. Paul the Apostle Award for her mentoring of other Catholic young adults.

Father Peter Grover, OMV, the director of St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in the Back Bay, was given the Pope John Paul II Award for service to young adults. His nomination statement remarked how the shrine’s Sunday evening Mass is packed with Catholics of that generation who flock to hear his “inspiring” homilies.

Last year, the shrine brought Perpetual Adoration back to the city of Boston for the first time in 40 years. Father Grover also said a young adult group meets Monday evenings there.

“It’s just a nice reverent church and a nice community,” Father Grover said.

Justin Ryan is an active member of the St. Clement community, organizing and volunteering at local events. He was one of six honored with a Blessed Frassati award.

“The battle for ideas is one we have to confront and we have to engage in,” he said. “Arming myself and my peers with the pursuits of holiness, a desire for social action, and the need for interior peace and forgiveness makes me want to do whatever I can.”

Elizabeth Abramo, a high school sophomore and parishioner at St. Jude Parish in Norfolk, was honored with a Discipleship Award. She sings in her church choir, serves as a student representative in a committee for the archdiocese, has run a Scouts’ retreat, and has also worked at the archdiocese’s men’s and women’s conferences.

Abramo has also participated in Witness to Truth, a youth leadership camp offered by the archdiocese.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” she recalled.

Richard Serino, a senior at Malden Catholic High School, was one of two recognized with a St. Timothy award. At Malden Catholic, Serino is the Religious Chair on the student council and a leader of the school’s service group. At his parish, he is a seventh-grade religious education teacher, lector, altar server, and Eucharistic minister. He organized a group of 40 young men to go to New York for Pope Benedict’s 2008 visit. For his Eagle Scout project, Serino organized a summertime food collection for a local food pantry.

“Donations to food pantries go down in the summer,” he said. “Everybody thinks of the poor when it’s 30 degrees out. When it’s 80 degrees out, no one thinks twice.”

Elizabeth Paquette, a school nurse at Malden Catholic, was presented with a Light of the World Award to recognize adults who serve young people.

“I think I’m ministering every day,” she said of her role as school nurse. “Every time my hand reaches out to help a child, it’s Jesus’ hand.”

Paquette was a nurse for the archdiocese’s March for Life pilgrimage, serves as a trainer for Malden Catholic’s rugby program, runs a women’s group that sews quilts for the archdiocese’s Pregnancy Help center. She also assists at school service trips and the Boston Walk for Life.

The banquet allowed many across the Archdiocese of Boston to recognize the efforts by and for young people to bring Jesus to the world, and in doing so inspire others to do the same.

“It’s important for us as a Church and a diocese to recognize and name the special graces at work in our young people and those who serve them, and to give thanks to God for that,” Father Williams said. “We are strengthened as a diocese and convicted to live our faith intentionally and deeply.”