Implementing a collaborative's local pastoral plan definitely requires people who are willing to serve their parishes.
Bishop Jean-Louis Anne Madelaine Lefebvre de Cheverus was the first Bishop of Boston, leading the diocese from 1808 to 1824. The Cheverus Award was instituted in 2008 to mark the Archdiocese's Bicentennial: "Each year, one third of the parishes of the archdiocese are asked to nominate a parishioner ... The criteria given to pastors is that the nominee should be a lay person who has served the parish well over an extended period of time and has done so in a quiet, unassuming and, perhaps, unrecognized fashion. Regional Bishops are asked each year to nominate from their region a religious and a deacon of similar qualifications..."
This year, 30 of the 113 Cheverus recipients are from collaboratives. Implementing a collaborative's local pastoral plan definitely requires people who are willing to serve their parishes. Here is a brief look at five collaborative recipients:
The Blue Hills Collaborative nominated St. Pius Tenth parishioner Dolores Hufnagel for her extraordinary service to the parish. She is a lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Father Ron Coyne, pastor, describes Dolores as, "unassuming, a great lady, one of those people who is always there." Dolores is a long-time member of, and office holder in the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. A mother and grandmother, she was overwhelmed at the news that she will receive the Cheverus Medal.
Peggy Heanue of Sts. Martha and Mary Parish, Lakeville, and Suzanne Whitehead of Sacred Heart Parish, Middleborough, are from the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative. Holly Clark, pastoral associate, describes Peggy as a longtime parishioner, volunteer sacristan at morning Masses, funerals and special occasions. Peggy helps out in the Generations of Faith Program and is a member of the Collaborative Worship Committee. "Peggy is one of the first to volunteer where social events are concerned and often takes the lead in organizing them." Suzanne, "is a 'volunteer-of-all-trades'! ... a very humble person who can always be found volunteering either quietly in the background or 'hawking' raffle tickets at the annual BBQ. She is always present- setting up, helping out, or cleaning up. If you need something done -- Suzanne is your person! And... with a smile!"
James Bloise is the recipient from St. Michael Parish in North Andover. Mary Alice Rock, director of pastoral ministries, says, "When Jim retired, he joined our Lazarus Funeral Ministry, soon was recognized for his coordination skills and took over the coordination of the ministry. The members of the ministry prepare the church for the funeral liturgies and they serve as altar servers, lectors and/or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion during the liturgy. They also clean up everything afterwards. Their most important role, however, is to be a compassionate presence for the families of the bereaved as their presence lets them know that they are not alone as they mourn the loss of their loved one. Jim is also a team captain of extraordinary ministers during weekend liturgies, making sure that all ... are prepared for the liturgical celebration. At daily Mass, he stays around and serves as a sacristan -- without having ever been asked! I have recently learned that Jim brings Communion to his neighbors who are ill. I see Jim about every day and never knew that! You see, Jim is one of those quiet, humble servant volunteers. He just wants to serve the Lord with no fanfare ... but by his life, directly models Disciples in Mission!
Father Bill Lohan, Pastor of St. Lucy and St. Monica Parishes in the Methuen Collaborative says of their nominee, "Shirley Jannetti has helped to clean our church (St. Lucy) for the entire 59 years of its history ... no one could do it with more love. She recently turned 80. Shirley has been dearly beloved by the people and the pastors here for decades. I think she is the best example of an unsung hero that we have. I feel that in honoring her we honor everyone in our parish as I feel she represents us all. I think Pope Francis would have picked her!"
Bishop Cheverus, writing to his friends the Hanley family in July 1798, offered good advice for maintaining the faith: "Love God and serve Him with all your heart; ... live friendly with one another and avoid sin as the most dreadful of all evils. Remember me in your prayers; I assure you I shall not forget you in mine. May the blessing of God remain with you all. I am from my heart, My Beloved children, Your affectionate friend in Jesus Christ. John Cheverus Catholic Priest."
Surely Bishop Cheverus is smiling at the good and faithful servants who receive his award this year.
Susan Abbott is the former Coordinator of Parish Outreach for the Archdiocese of Boston's Office of Pastoral Planning.
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