By Cathy Cornue
Sun contributing writer
When we first discussed the idea of an award for certified catechists, we did some brainstorming about what to call it. When WE got out of the way and listened to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit, it became evident that it must be: Seeds of Faith. And the story of the mustard seed, which is on each honoree’s certificate, is a reminder of the great things that can happen when seeds of faith are planted.
In prayer and with discernment, the catechetical leaders in each region selected the recipients. We are delighted to honor Dorothy Monterose, Jean Derby, Kate Garger and Meg Krantz as the first recipients of the Seeds of Faith Award.
Dorothy Monterose, St. Leo/St. Ann, Holland Patent, is the recipient from the Eastern Region. Denise Nicotera, the parish Director of Faith Formation at Monterose’s parish said, “Her classroom overflows with warmth, song, color and prayer. Her students are always happy to see her. They are not passive observers but active participants”
A catechist for 21 years, Monterose has devoted her life to teaching second grade, including preparation for Reconciliation and Eucharist.
Northern Region recipient, Jean Derby, Our Lady of the Rosary, Hannibal, has a passion for teaching first and second grade. She has also taught many other grades over her 30 years as a catechist. Her Director of Faith Formation, Kathy Emmons, said of Derby, “Jean helps us understand how important we are to ourselves and to others, and how our contributions directly benefit all students by providing a prepared classroom curriculum with an open heart, mind and soul.”
Kate Garger, Ss. John & Andrew, Binghamton, is the Southern Region award winner.
A degree in early childhood education and a natural gift for teaching young children led to Kate Garger’s desire to share the faith that she loves. As a third grade catechist since 2000, Garger quickly became certified. As we know, we catechize in many different formats, and for the children of St. Andrew’s Parish, the Word of God became more accessible to them when she initiated and organized the Children’s Liturgy of the Word in 2001. When St. Andrew’s merged with St. John’s in 2008, Children’s Liturgy of the Word continued, with Garger leading the children every Sunday. The program has doubled in size and the little ones obviously love her style of bringing the lessons of the Lord to them. As Madonna Hurchla, the cathechetical leader at the parish noted, “The parish enjoys seeing the excitement of the children as they go back to their parents, eager to show and explain what they have learned.”
Meg Krantz, St. Joseph, Camillus, is the Western Region recipient. In comments from her pastor, Father Greg LeStrange stated, “Since I began ministry here in the Syracuse Diocese almost 30 years ago, I have come to an ever-increasing awareness of two very important realities in my life. One: people are basically good and willing to be of service. And two, some exceptional people go above and beyond the expected to share their time, talent and treasures. Meg Krantz of our faith community here at St. Joseph’s is one of these people.”
The Bishop Frank J. Harrison Award is presented to Linda Buckley of St. Ann, Mother of Mary Parish in Mexico. This award is given to a person who has given “outstanding service in catechetical ministry” and lives out the following criteria:
• Has significant length of service in catechetical ministry
• Has served the catechetical ministry by mentoring and encouraging others
• Has lived the vision of Vatican II in ministry
• Has witnessed to the importance of ongoing, lifelong faith formation for self and others
• Has stood in the midst of the people of God to serve
As her pastor, Father John Cannaro said at the beginning of his nomination letter, “In reading the five criteria for this award, all I can think of is Linda.” He went on to note Buckley’s more than 25 years of service in this ministry, including starting a nursery during Mass, teaching high school faith formation and preparing teens for Confirmation. In addition, she is the lead catechist for the RCIA process and according to Father Cannaro, “does a great job helping adults to understand and accept the Catholic tradition.”
Linda serves on the Diocesan Committee on the Catechumenate and was the editor for the first newsletter for this ministry. She has also been a workshop presenter at Journey of Faith.
A life-long learner, Buckley journeyed through the Formation for Ministry Program, has attended a multitude of workshops, local and national conferences, and received her graduate certificate in Religious Education from Loyola Institute for Ministry, known to many as LIMEX. Buckley’s love for her faith is poured out in other ways, as well: parish council secretary, parish representative to the DPC, liturgical minister coordinator, Eucharistic minister, social committee member, liturgical environment committee member and manager of the parish website.
Buckley’s fellow faith formation directors in the Northern Region have added their voices to her pastor’s. A few samples follow.
“It is with high regard that I recommend Linda Buckley for this award. Having worked with her for well over a decade, I have observed her many skills and virtues…organize, eager to read and travel in order to learn more about her Catholic faith; I have seen first hand the rapport that she has with her students and their admiration and respect for her.”
Another director stated, “Her witnessing to others is evident in the number of students, either in Confirmation or RCIA, who ask her to be their sponsor. She is always there when a catechist, parent, parishioner or another director of faith formation needs help with a problem, project, or just needs a sounding board.”
Cornue is diocesan director of the Office of Faith Formation. The Pathways event is held each year in celebration of those who work in faith formation.