Six local Catholics will soon be recognized for their efforts to protect human life and promote understanding of the consistent-life ethic. Sister of St. Joseph Donna Del Santo, Tim McMahon, William and Mary Norton, Meg Smerbeck and Maggie Torres will receive the Vita Award Oct. 17 at the 10th annual Consistent Life Ethic Dinner and Awards Presentation at St. Patrick’s Parish Hall, 115 Maple Ave., Victor.
Sister Del Santo currently serves as the vocations director for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Rochester. She first became interested in life issues while in high school and has been involved ever since. She has participated in war protests, helped both the rural and urban poor, worked with pregnant and parenting teens and as a nurse at the Monroe County Jail and previously served as chair of the diocesan Consistent Life Ethic Committee.
“I feel the Gospel mandate to love God and to love neighbor propelled me to respond and be involved with life issues,” Sister Del Santo said, noting that her parents provided good role models. “I was fortunate to have many other wonderful mentors and opportunities in my life that helped me to see how blessed I am and that I had a responsibility to give back to the world to make it a more just and life-embracing place.”
McMahon spent eight years as executive director of Catholic Charities of Livingston County. Under his direction CCLC developed a number of new programs and initiatives to serve the various populations in the largely rural county, including needy single parents, Spanish-speaking workers, homebound residents and at-risk youths.
The Nortons, who belong to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Elmira, have volunteered with a number of community organizations in the Elmira area. They have volunteered at the Elmira Free Community Kitchen for nearly 20 years, have donated both time and money to the Southern Tier Pregnancy Resource Center and volunteer at the Samaritan Center on a regular basis.
“We just want to try to help people,” William said. “We get a lot of enjoyment out of it.”
Smerbeck helped start Elizabeth Ministry at St. Louis Parish in Pittsford in 1999. Elizabeth ministers support those experiencing challenging pregnancies or pregnancy loss; welcome new babies; and support women and families with new babies. Smerbeck is also a board member of Feminists for Life and has worked to increase awareness of life issues.
“Helping the unborn and helping mothers has always been close to my heart,” she said.
Torres belongs to Rochester’s Corpus Christi Parish and has been involved in a number of ministries there. She is currently a program manager at Mercy Outreach Center, and prior to that she served as director of Matthew’s Closet, Corpus Christi’s clothing ministry.
“I just try to help people have the same opportunities and respect that everyone should have,” Torres said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For ticket information or to make a donation to the Consistent Life Ethic’s grant fund, call 585/328-3210, ext. 1303 , or 800/388-7177, ext. 1303 .