Following in her footsteps

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_19X8592St. Augustine’s parishioner honored with award

By Claudia Mathis
Sun staff writer

BALDWINSVILLE — On May 4, parishioners at St. Augustine’s gathered during the 11 a.m. Mass and witnessed Sister Ellen Lindsey, CSJ, present long-time parishioner Carolyn Buongiorne with the Sister Patricia Geary Service Award. “It was a very humbling experience,” said Buongiorne.

For the last eight years, the award has been given to a St.  Augustine’s parishioner in memory Sister Patricia Geary, CSJ, who ministered at St. Augustine’s from 1990 to 1998, when she died of cancer. Nominated by fellow parishioners, the candidate who receives the award is chosen because his/her life exemplifies Sister Patricia’s ministry.

A donation of $1,000 is made to the recipient’s favorite charity. Buongiorne has chosen Francis House and the Neurofibromatosis Foundation. The organizations will each receive $500 in honor of Sister Patricia.

When Sister Patricia arrived at the parish in 1990, she quickly became a catalyst for growth and change. She revised the RCIA process, restructured the pastoral council thereby improving communication and took on the responsibility for the parish’s fund-raising program.

Sister Patricia was a strong advocate for social justice, believing in the dignity of all people.

She was remembered for leading parishioners who hesitated to become involved into active participation. “She got people more involved,” said Buongiorne. “She set up ministries  involving lay people and she started up faith sharing groups — she did a lot.”

Parish secretary Lin Kilts said that even though Sister Patricia was very ill during the time she spent at St. Augustine’s, she always worked hard for the good of the parish. “When she would leave to go home each day, her answer to ‘See you in the morning’ would be, ‘God willing,’” said Kilts. “That is how Sister Pat lived her life.”

A parishioner at St. Augustine’s since 1966, Buongiorne has initiated a great number of ministries, just as Sister Patricia did.

Buongiorne’s helpful presence is woven throughout St. Augustine’s parish life. For the last six years, she has facilitated a Bible study group. The group of 18 people meets every Tuesday morning. “We are learning a lot and enjoying it,” said Buongiorne.

Buongiorne helps out in the pastoral office and is involved with serving and setting up for funeral Masses. She serves as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, lector and sacristan. Buongiorne is also involved in classes through the diocesan Formation for Ministry Program.

“She always has time for a friendly greeting to others and goes out of her way to invite others to become involved in parish activities,” Kilts said of Buongiorne. “With her faith and all she does for the people around her, she is certainly a shining example of how she lives the values of Jesus and follows in Sister Pat’s footsteps.”

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