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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