In the Winner’s Circle

Nov. 3-9, 2005
In the Winner’s Circle
By Rick Fitzgerald/ SUN contributing writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Catholic Charities honors Recipients of Brady Awards at Annual Meeting At a recent ceremony held at the Empire Room at the New York State Fairgrounds, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County and Toomey Residential and Community Services honored the winners of the Charles J. Brady Awards as part of their annual meeting. The role of Catholic Charities of Onondaga County is to reflect Christ’s teachings through advocacy, service and convening people around social issues so they can develop just responses.

The agency began its work in 1923 under the guidance of Bishop Daniel Curley, who wanted to found an organization that would give people the opportunity to reach beyond their parish communities to assist those who were experiencing difficulty meeting their basic needs. He wanted to keep families together and help children reach their full potential. Today, the mission of the organization has expanded to meet the needs of a constantly growing population. The men and women honored with this year’s awards are fine examples of the impact Catholic Charities has on the residents of this county.

The evening began with Sylvia Martinez-DaLoia, board member of Catholic Charities, introducing Patrick Farrell who led the opening prayer. John Sindoni, board president, welcomed the honorees and guests before Catholic Charities Executive Director C. Brain Walton bestowed the awards.

The first honor presented was the Parish Service Award. “The question we might ask about the St. Agnes parishioners isn’t what do they do?” Walton said, “It’s what don’t they do.” They always have their hearts and wallets open to help those in need. The parish sponsors a monthly luncheon for seniors and contributes to a food pantry, which serves approximately 500 families. At holiday times, food and gift baskets are distributed to the less fortunate.

The parish goals for charity drives are consistently exceeded. But the generosity of this church goes well beyond the parish. This year alone, thousands of dollars were donated to natural disaster relief funds and missionary causes around the world. Father William Guckert has been the spiritual leader of these annual overachievers since 1986. When asked what made his flock so special, he said, “It’s because of the love and charitableness of the parishioners. Consistently, St. Agnes has distinguished herself as a parish caring and reaching out to others.” The C. Walter Driscoll Award is given to the Catholic Charities employee who excels in his or her commitment to the organization and its people. This year’s recipient is Tammie Castleman. If she isn’t working as a member of the finance team, Castleman can be found at a C.A.R.E. (Catholic Charities Appreciation and Recognition of Employees) meeting. Or doing any task needed to make the organization better.

Catholic Charities depends heavily upon the efforts of volunteers and they’ve been blessed with many great givers. One of the best is this year’s winner of the Volunteer Service Award, R. Michael Campbell. Campbell is a big part of Catholic Charities’ success over the years. His tireless efforts have helped assure the success of their annual House of Providence Dinner and other projects, which help keep the organization running.

Community service is the cornerstone of Catholic Charities. James Farrell is this year’s choice to receive the Community Service Award. Farrell is a board member and County Legislator for the 4th District for the Town of Salina. He owns Pella Windows of CNY Inc. and donated his product to the Dorothy Day House shelter for women and children. He serves on several committees and was instrumental in working to restore money used to fund vital programs after it had been removed from the budget.

The Bernard J. Lawler Award is named for a past board president who showed great leadership and caring until his sudden passing a few years ago. Monsignor Charles Fahey gladly accepted the award. Msgr. Fahey’s resume of accomplishments is long and distinguished. His leadership on the topic of aging has introduced him to people in the know from the local to the international level. He has helped open nursing homes and elderly housing projects. Msgr. Fahey has also served on several Governors’ Health Councils. He is a past president of the American Society on Aging and a consultant for the United Nations Fund for Population Activities. He gave a short description of his good friend, Msgr. Charlie Brady. “He was a towering person of diminutive stature, inarticulate until angered then he spoke with the voice of a prophet,” Msgr. Fahey said.

The evening concluded with Lois Benevento receiving the Monsignor Charles Brady Award. She was nominated by an inmate in the prison system because of her outstanding volunteer work as a counselor in Catholic Charities Jail Ministries Program since 2000. Benevento meets regularly with inmates at the Onondaga County Justice Center. The lives of this year’s Brady Award winners can be summed up simply by the plaque outside St. Agnes Church. Micah 6:8 reads, “and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with God.”

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