Lay volunteers honored with Immaculata Awards

immaculata crowd

immaculata crowdDedicated lay volunteers from more than 70 parishes throughout the diocese were honored with Immaculata Awards for their service Dec. 8. The awards were presented by Bishop Robert J. Cunningham at a standing-room-only vespers service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse.

   The Immaculata Awards were created by Bishop Cunningham in 2011 as part of the diocese’s 125th anniversary celebration. The awards recognize and honor “those who generously and unselfishly give of themselves to their parishes and whose love for the Church has been shown through their devotion to the Holy Father as well as to our diocese.” Recipients were nominated for the award by their pastors, church personnel or church council members.    This year, many lifelong parishioners and long-serving volunteers were honored. Eight such individuals are highlighted here. The Catholic Sun congratulates all of this year’s Immaculata Award recipients.

   Dorothy “Dottie” Jenkins, parishioner at St. James in Johnson City, is being recognized for 49 years of service to her parish. She said she feels extremely honored and doesn’t think she is worthy of the distinction.

   “The Blessed Mother and God have been good to me and volunteering is a way for me to feel that I am doing something worthwhile,” explained Jenkins.

   At 83 years old, Jenkins takes pleasure from her involvement in many activities at St. James. She is a member of the Tabernacle Society, bereavement ministry and helps out at the food bank. Her other activities have included singing with the church choir, teaching religious education classes at St. James School when her three daughters attended, helping to prepare meals for special events and participating in prayer groups.

   However, Jenkins is best known as the founder and leader of the St. James Rosary Makers, a group of 12 people who meet monthly to pray, make rosaries and ship them to the military, missions, college campuses and a variety of parishes. Over the years, they have shipped several thousand rosaries to every continent.

   “Dottie responds to any request that is made, being a true servant and example to people of every generation,” commented Father John Donovan, pastor at St. James, when he nominated her for the award.

   Carmelo Gonzalez, of the Western Region Spanish Apostolate in Syracuse, has inspired many people with his musical talent and spiritual devotion over the last 40 years.

   A Formation for Ministry graduate, Gonzalez serves as a lector and plays guitar in the music ministry at St. Anthony of Padua in Syracuse. “I love it,” remarked Gonzalez, of his participation at St. Anthony’s. “I like the people and I feel comfortable there.”

   Gonzalez arrived in New York City from Puerto Rico in the late 1960s. In 1970, he settled in Syracuse. Remembering his mother’s advice about the importance of attending Mass, Gonzalez began attending St. Anthony’s, where he encountered pastor Father Robert Chryst. He said Father Chryst has inspired him over the years, and as a result, his faith has been strengthened immeasurably.

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