Immaculatas honor service

By Katherine Long

Ninety-seven lay volunteers from 78 parishes across the diocese were honored for their service at the annual Immaculata Awards celebration held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse Dec. 6.

Now in their fifth year, the awards were instituted by Bishop Robert J. Cunningham to recognize the “unsung heroes in our midst who build up our parish communities by extraordinary service.” Recipients are nominated for the award by their pastors and/or parish councils.

Noting the approaching Year of Mercy, Bishop Cunningham spoke to the “messengers of mercy” being recognized. “All of us are recipients of God’s mercy. In turn we are called to be heralds of God’s mercy, announcing by our words and deeds the lavish mercy of God who reaches out to all with the warm embrace of his forgiveness and peace,” he said. “Through you, God’s mercy is visible to others.”

At 35, Michael Fanto of St. Peter’s Church in Rome may be a young honoree, but he’s already offered more than a decade of service to his parish. A physicist by trade, Fanto is a Eucharistic minister and a Confirmation teacher, and he tries to show his students that science and religion don’t need to be mutually exclusive, he said.

Humbled to receive the award, Fanto believes community is built on acts of kindness. “Whatever I can give back, I will,” he said.

Honoree Dorothy Leonard has been a member of St. Joseph’s Church in Deposit for 73 years. In charge of recruiting, training and scheduling Eucharistic ministers, lectors and altar servers, she’s on the phone every Saturday morning making sure coverage is in place. On Sunday mornings, she and her husband open the church and prepare the space for liturgy. Why does she do it, after all these years? “It’s my parish,” she said simply. “It’s my church.”

Despite all her efforts, Leonard said she doesn’t feel “quite worthy” of her award. “I don’t feel I deserve it, because I like what I do.”

Honoree Dolores Brulé was nominated for her extensive contributions to the parish, the diocese and beyond over more than half a century. A champion for civil rights, opportunity and equality, Brulé’s past service includes the Bishop Foery Foundation, the Catholic Interracial Council, the New York State Catholic Conference, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Advisory Council, and the diocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry, which “served to seek out, to encourage, to evangelize in whatever way they could, to enhance the presence of our lives within this Church” which had been overlooked or not seen, she said. As a parishioner of St. Anthony’s of Padua in Syracuse, she was a lector and a member of the parish council. (Since moving, she now attends All Saints Church.)

Brulé cites Msgr. Charles Brady, whom she first met in 1949, as a great influence in her life. “He was a man to be admired,” she said. “He represented a side of the Church that I would have not known about had it not been for him.”

She drew on his example when asked about receiving the Immaculata. Msgr. Brady was initially uncomfortable receiving the title “monsignor,” but his friends ultimately convinced him it was a reflection of his service. The Immaculata is not an award for Dolores, she said, but “an award for the faithfulness of the people of St. Anthony’s.”

Below are photos and video from the celebration (part of the Dec. 9 edition of “Around the Diocese”) and a complete list of honorees.

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2015 Immaculata Award honorees

Honorees are listed by region and parish/PCA


Northern Region


Anthony and Marjorie Corsoniti

Holy Trinity, Fulton


Suzanne Powers

St. Anne, Mother of Mary, Mexico


Laura L. Kehoe

Christ Our Light, Pulaski



Southern Region


Bonnie Mandyck

St. Anthony, Endicott


Lillian M. Babicek

St. Joseph, Endicott


Mary Inman

St. Ambrose, Endicott


Hope Hannon

Holy Family, Endwell


James Tokos

Most Holy Rosary, Maine


Dorothy Leonard

St. Joseph, Deposit


Dennis and Jane O’Dea

St. Mary, Kirkwood


Joseph and Linda Sanderson

St. Joseph, Sanitaria Springs


Corinne Mott

Our Lady of Lourdes, Windsor


Greg Hrostowski

St. Vincent Blessed Sacrament, Vestal


Nancy Hargrave

Our Lady of Sorrows, Vestal


Joanne S. Pucek

Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Binghamton


Marianna Diehl

St. Patrick, Binghamton


Gloria Rokicsak

St. Thomas Aquinas, Binghamton


Joan Trepa

Immaculate Conception, Greene


Sandy Beckwith

St. Joseph, Oxford


Ann Marie Lenkiewicz

Holy Trinity, Binghamton


Sheila B. Madigan

St. James, Johnson City


John Desimone

St. Mary of the Assumption, Binghamton


Doris Homan

St. Paul, Binghamton


George and Elizabeth (Betty) Mayerhauser

St. Agnes Mission, Afton


Theresa Mary MacAvoy

St. John, Bainbridge



Eastern Region


Robert Fetzko

St. Malachy, Sherburne


Sharon Norton

St. John, Camden


Barbara C. Thomas

St. Mary, Rome


Michael Fanto

St. Peter, Rome


Sharon Reilly

St. Paul, Rome


Lorraine A. Withers

St. Mary, Hamilton


Elaine Gray

St. Joan of Arc Mission, Morrisville


Sharon Zombek

St. Joseph, Oriskany Falls


Katherine I. Peck, OCDS

St. Bernard, Waterville


Vincent and Patricia Zaleski

St. Mark, Utica


Lucille LaVine

St. Mary of Mt. Carmel-Blessed Sacrament, Utica


John and Regina Aliasso

St. Anthony-St. Agnes, Utica


Carol Parker

Our Lady of Lourdes, Utica


Valerie Elacqua

Holy Trinity, Utica


Ann Krol

Sacred Heart-St. Mary, Our Lady of Czestochowa, New York Mills


Les and Marie Carroll

St. Patrick-St. Anthony, Chadwicks


Marybeth K. McCall

Our Lady of the Rosary, New Hartford


Doris M. Goff

St. John the Evangelist, New Hartford


Margaret Iffert

Church of the Annunciation, Clark Mills



Western Region


Patricia Van Nortwick

St. Mary, Cortland


James Perfetti

St. Anthony of Padua, Cortland
Carole Harris

St. Margaret, Homer


Margaret (Peg) Orzel

St. Stephen-St. Patrick, Marathon/Whitney Point


James and Brenda Hiza

St. Joseph, LaFayette


Paula and Michael Skvarch

Immaculate Conception, Pompey


Ted and Patty Shaw

St. Leo, Tully


Lawrence E. Gray

St. Patrick, Jordan


Brenda DeGroff

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Syracuse


Anne Lawton

Most Holy Rosary, Syracuse


Marilyn J. Madison

Our Lady of Lourdes, Syracuse


Frederick and Jeanette Mohr

St. Anthony of Padua, Syracuse


Dolores Brule

Spanish Apostolate in collaboration with Office of Black Catholics, Syracuse


Jay K. and Young H. Lee

St. James, Syracuse


Harold and Rita Thompson

Blessed Sacrament, Syracuse


Alberta P. DeStefano

St. Vincent de Paul, Syracuse


Kathleen A. Kinsey

Immaculate Conception, Fayetteville


Frank and Frances Pavone

St. Ann, Manlius


Henry (Hank) Centore

St. Charles-St. Ann, Syracuse


Joseph and Rosalie Durand

St. Francis Xavier, Marcellus


Edward M. Campagna

Holy Family, Syracuse


John M. LaManche

St. Michael-St. Peter, Syracuse


Charles C. Hawks

Sacred Heart, Cicero


Frank and Edie Zdep

St. Margaret, Mattydale


Coleen Dembowski

St. Rose of Lima, North Syracuse


Frank Sylvester

Pope John XXIII, Liverpool


Cait Clark

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Liverpool


Terrance and Theresa Wellenzohn

St. Joseph the Worker, Liverpool


George and Carole Van Skoik

St. Augustine, Baldwinsville


E. Scott Brown, Jr.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Baldwinsville


Claudette and Jim Pitts

St. Mary of the Assumption, Baldwinsville


Laurie A. Mogilewski

St. Stephen, Phoenix


Sabatino Porrino

Our Lady of Pompei-St. Peter, Syracuse


Gerald Mott

St. John the Baptist-Holy Trinity, Syracuse




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