Seven Southern Tier parishioners have been honored with Works of Love awards for their social-ministry endeavors.
The recipients were recognized at the annual Catholic Charities Parish Social Ministry Dinner, held June 9 at the Hill Top Inn in Elmira. Also that night, the keynote speaker, Dr. Aileen A. O’Donoghue, professor of physics at St. Lawrence University, reflected on the theme “Standing with Christ.”
This year’s Works of Love honorees are:
Sean Garner, Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Casimir/St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Elmira: Serves as cochair of the parish’s social-ministry committee, and in that capacity is striving to introduce Catholic social teaching on fair trade and to share information on how to order Catholic Relief Services fair-trade coffee and divine chocolate. Recently arranged for a group of parish youths to take part in the local Habitat for Humanity work bee. Also has provided leadership for the local Theology on Tap initiative for young adults along with his wife, Laurie. Is employed by Corning Inc.
Lillian Henry, St. Mary Our Mother Parish, Horseheads: Has provided social-ministry leadership for the parish for 20 years and has served the past five years as secretary of the social-ministry committee. Responsibilities include keeping notes of committee decisions, gathering information for prospective projects and issues, and communication with committee and subcommittee members. Has volunteered for 17 years at the Horseheads Food Pantry and gathers needed information from families for the parish Christmas-basket project. Is a retired educator.
Sister Mary O’Brien, CSJ, St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Ithaca: Serves as the parish’s pastoral associate as well as staff liaison to the Peace and Justice Committee, one of the two largest committees in the parish. That group’s members credit her with providing continuity, inspiration and energy to keep the ministry moving forward. Has helped the committee identify and prioritize issues and needs and shape an effective parish response. Has encouraged the committee to reach out to engage more members of the parish community in the social mission.
Henry Ricciuti, St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Ithaca: Has served as a member of the parish Peace and Justice Committee for 10 years. Professional career has been devoted to serving humanity, especially improving the lives of children, and brings this passion and knowledge to the committee. Provides important insight and data for that group and helps it analyze the problems to get to the root causes. Provides a voice of reason and wisdom during discussions of complex issues and helps the committee clarify how the parish could respond. Is a staff member in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University.
Joe and Sharon Erway, St. Mary’s Southside Parish, Elmira: The couple met through the parish’s social-ministry committee; their love for each other grew as they served the poor and vulnerable. Both provided leadership for several years for the parish’s annual Christmas-basket project, funeral lunches, Father’s Day carnation project and rummage sales. Joe assists each year with the Good Friday Stations of the Cross for Justice and Peace. Joe, with Sharon’s support and encouragement, is preparing to serve as a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Rochester.
Sandy Harkness, St. Mary’s Southside Parish, Elmira: Has served as the parish’s social-ministry coordinator for 20 years and, though she was due to retire at the end of June 2008, hopes to remain active in social ministry. Brings a compassion for the poor and vulnerable to her ministry — always looking for ways to help the parish respond to human needs. Served for several years as a member of the diocesan Public Policy Committee and coordinated issue education and advocacy in the parish for the annual Public Policy Weekend and traveled to Albany each year for the New York State Catholic Conference’s Public Policy Forum.