My dear people of St. Mary’s:
On Tuesday, October 24th, I attended the Catechetical Service Awards ceremony at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre. These recognitions are given annually by the Office of Faith Formation of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. This year, Bishop Robert Brennan, auxiliary of our diocese, presided and preached at a prayer service, and personally gave out the awards.
One of the most important tasks of any parish church is the handing on of the Catholic Faith, as it has come down to us from the time of Jesus and the Apostles, to our people today. And this is especially important when it comes to our young people.
Our children today are growing up in very confused and troubled times. Every age has its challenges, and certainly its sins. But these current times, I believe, are unique, in that they seek to rob our children of childhood itself. More and more I hear adults say (as I often do myself): “I am glad I grew up when I did; I would not want to be a child today.” If you think about it, that is a terrible indictment of our times.
This is why the Catholic Faith is vitally important for our young people today. It is not something antique or old-fashioned. Instead, it is the lighthouse, a beacon in the darkness, that enables us to avoid the rocks and find safe harbor and home.
I am very grateful to Nora Toal, our Coordinator of Religious Education, to Kathy Friend, her assistant, and all the members of our parish who have served us and our children as catechists. It is an absolutely vital ministry in each and every Catholic parish. And these men and women, your fellow parishioners and neighbors, year after year give generously and quietly of their time and talents to hand on the faith they themselves have received. They do not do this for awards or recognition, but out of love of the Lord and of our young people. However, these achievements andmilestones should not go unnoticed. This year, a number of our catechists received awards from the diocese.
The St. John XXIII Award was instituted in 1991 in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. It honors those who have contributed twenty-five years of outstanding volunteerservice in catechetical ministry. This year, Josephine Arduini received this award for a quarter century of dedicated service as a catechist.
The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award was instituted all the way back in 1982, in honor of the silver anniversary of the diocese. It honors those who have contributed twenty years of service as catechists. This year, Gina DeLucia from our parish received this award.
The St. Pius X Award was originally instituted by the National Diocesan Directors of Religious Education. It is awarded to those who have contributed ten years of volunteer service in catechetical ministry. This year Nancy Diaz was a recipient from St. Mary’s.
The Pope Paul VI Award is presented to those who have contributed five years of service as a catechist. I am grateful to Annmarie Balzano, Catherine Lau, Angela Maletta, Jennifer McGeown, Theresa Nardine and Barbara Vollano, who have received this award this year.
On behalf of all the members of our parish I offer congratulations to the recipients of this year’s awards, as well as our gratitude to all our catechists who continue to volunteer year after year in our program in order to pass on the Catholic Faith on to our young people.