My dear people of St. Mary’s:
In 2007, during the Golden Jubilee of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Bishop William Murphy instituted the St. Agnes Medal, an award given to members of the Catholic laity for service to the Church. Each year, pastors from each of the 133 parishes in the diocese are asked to nominate lay people who unselfishly donate their time and talents to their parishes. The medal itself, designed and struck in Rome, features on one side the image of St. Agnes, patroness of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and a depiction of our diocesan cathedral on the reverse.
On Sunday, October 27, 2018, Bishop John O. Barres presented the awards to this year’s recipients at a prayer service at St. Agnes Cathedral. “Honorees are lay people whose love of the Church has been shown through the devotion to the Holy Father, to our diocese and to their parish,” said Bishop Barres. “Recipients are the unsung heroes in our midst who build up our parish communities by extraordinary service in parish ministry, parish administration or some significant volunteer role.”
This year, the St. Agnes Medal was awarded to a married couple from our parish: Paul and Dina Ditrano. Paul is a science teacher at Kellenberg Memorial High School, and Dina is a science teacher at the Hicksville Middle School. Both are longtime parishioners and were even married here at St. Mary’s.
Paul Ditrano attended St. Mary’s parochial school, and received his Sacraments of First Holy Communion, Confirmation and Marriage at St. Mary’s. He served as an altar boy from 1977 to 1986; as a festival worker throughout the 1980’s; as an assistant youth minister from 1988 to 1990; as a youth minister from 1990 to 1996; as a lector from 1986 to the present; as a sacristan from 1986 to the present; and has served for many years as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.
Dina and her family moved to the parish in 1985. She served as a youth minister from 1990 to 1996. She serves on our parish Fun-Raising Committee planning, coordinating and running special events like our annual Oktoberfest and parish picnic. She maintains the parish Facebook page; assists with the parish website; and serves as our coordinator for our parish Constant Contact e-mail outreach. For many years she has served as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. As a family, Paul and Dina, along with their teenage children Nicholas and Katie, weekly volunteer as hosts at our Saturday evening Mass at Msgr. Ryan Hall. This means that as a family they arrive early, open up the church, set up for Mass, coordinate all aspects of the liturgy, serve as lectors, Extraordinary Ministers, and altar servers, and then take care of everything again at the end.
If anything needs to be done in the parish, Paul and Dina and their children are always the first to respond. From their childhood and teenage years to the present they have been involved in absolutely every aspect of parish life. And what they do, they do generously and with joy. They are a couple who love their Catholic Faith and live it in an unassuming way that is obvious for all to see.
And so, please join me in congratulating Paul and Dina Ditrano for receiving this great, and well-deserved, honor. But most of all, on behalf of all of us here at St. Mary’s, I want to thank them for their service to our Lord, our parish, and our people.