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Catholic Women

Women who make
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Unsung heroes

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Rev. Raymond T. Gawronski, SJ

Sister M. Angelina Dutra, SHF

Sister Ramona Bascom, OP

Sister M. Jacinta Fiebig, SHF

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Sisterhood puts its collective heart into dresses, shorts

placeholder May 9, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Tribute to Catholic Women

Women who make a difference

The Catholic Voice asked East Bay Catholics to suggest some of the Catholic outstanding women who make a difference for the Church. These are parish, organization and school volunteers with a record of outstanding performance and meaningful involvement. These women have made a difference in our faith community, and have set a standard for others to follow.

In our May 23 issue we'd like to recognize some of the diocese's hard-working men and women volunteers. If you have an unsung hero in your parish, organization or school, send the person's name and contact information, a high resolution photo, and why you think he or she should be recognized, no later than May 13 to news@oakvoice.org, or by mail to The Catholic Voice, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland 94612.

Here are some of our dedicated women:

Cheri A. Benafield
All Saints Parish, Hayward

Cheri is a beacon for what we all should be doing/helping. She has facilitated the lives of so many. If there were more people like her, the world would be a much kinder place!

She has been a parishioner at All Saints for more than 30 years.

She is a volunteer for the Family Emergency Shelter Coalition (FESCO, at All Saints). Rain or shine, she has cooked/delivered potatoes every month for the last 20-plus years.

She is a volunteer ("affiliate") for the Bay Area Chapter of Maryknoll (San Lorenzo), where she and others volunteer their time to help support international missionary work.

She is the president elect of the California Reading Association, a volunteer position. She has not only taught hundreds of children to read, but continues her dedication to make sure literacy is for everyone.

She began her teaching career 30 years ago at Saint Benedict in Oakland and is currently the principal of Pioneer Elementary School, Union City.

Nominated by Kevin W. Benafield

Rhea Bennett
St. John Vianney Parish, Walnut Creek

Rhea is a true asset to the Catholic women of the East Bay. She is always caring, displays concern and kindness for all the people who come through the line at Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa, where she is a member of the Board of Directors.

She is real and genuine, remembering the people who are regulars there. She is authentic and concerned about people and always prays for the homeless at daily Mass.

Nominated by the Staff at St. John Vianney

JC Calderon
Catholic Community of Pleasanton

Unlike most volunteers who devote their time to one or two ministries, JC volunteers in so many at the Catholic Community of Pleasanton, it was hard to summarize all that she does. Many times we have joked with her, asking what ministry doesn't she participate in!

Among the many ministries she helps with: Children's Faith Formation — she taught elementary FF classes for many years and now helps CIC with its gatherings. She also volunteers in their front office answering phones and covering for meetings. She is a sacristan for funerals and helps with the funeral receptions. She assists Arts & Environment taking care of the plants and flowers on the altar and around the church. In the Music Ministry, not only has JC been a choir member, but she also helps administratively with such tasks as copying music and selling tickets for concerts. She is also the Liturgical Coordinator for our Sunday 8 a.m. Mass.

What is most important about JC is her endless enthusiasm and joy for all that she does at CCOP. She is truly the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in our parish; an example to all of us of what ministry can add to our own faith by helping others.

Nominated by Ira Stein

Graciela Camarillo
St. Cornelius Parish, Richmond

Mrs. Camarillo is a faithful servant with both St. Cornelius Parish and School.

Her children attend St. Cornelius School, are altar servers and involved in CYO. Her husband is in charge of confirmation.

Mrs. Camarillo helps out at school four days a week, wherever needed. She prepares school children to be altar servers, attends Mass with her family, helps out with the choir and is volunteering with CYO. She holds fundraisers regularly to support any and all programs. She bakes cupcakes, cooks tamales and has yard-sales to support school and church events.

She is a proud Catholic woman who does whatever is needed to help her brothers and sisters in Christ, her church, her family and other children. She never asks for recognition or credit. She does what she does in her faith and for the grace of God.

Nominated by Sherri Moradi

Sherry Cartmill
Christ the King Parish, Pleasant Hill

Sherry has been a member of our parish for decades, an incredibly active volunteer in many ministries and a friend to everyone she meets. She has been the driving force behind the parish Hospitality Committee for years, often putting together a reception or luncheon at the last minute, making it all seem easy.

Sherry also serves as an usher, a Eucharistic Minister and teaches Religious Education classes.

Outside the parish she serves on the local Community Emergency Response Team, and created a "Little Free Library" at the end of her driveway, to encourage a sense of community and the love of reading.

A day rarely goes by where Sherry is not helping a friend, neighbor or someone she hasn't met yet. She always has a kind word and a smile for everyone, and never seeks the spotlight for herself.

Nominated by Julie Pickett

Fides Castaneda
St. Joachim Parish, Hayward

Among the many treasures here at St. Joachim Parish in Hayward, you will find a gem in Fides Castaneda. One of the many areas she volunteers and shines in, is as the Altar Server Coordinator. Her training of the young people assures they understand the rubrics as well as the step by step logistics of their participation in the Mass. She fosters a servant leadership in them by example through retreats for strengthening their faith, organizing and helping them run fundraisers to give back to their community.

She is a wonderful example to our young people in her joy of service. She also serves as a parent catechist, a member of the pastoral council, liturgy committee, Simbang Gabi, events Committee, and as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and a rectory Office volunteer.

She calls St. Joachim Parish her happy place and we are happy to honor her as one of true gems of our parish community.

— Nominated by Rev. Joseph Antony Sebastian and members of the Pastoral Council

Geraldine Cerruti
St. Isidore Parish, Danville

Our special and helpful volunteer here at St. Isidore Parish, Geraldine (fondly called Jerry) Cerruti, can't be beat. Although Jerry is an octogenarian, she comes twice a week to help out in the office (telephone calls, computer input and recording). She is sharp and works out in the gym once a week. Thank you, Jerry, for sharing your stewardship of time to St. Isidore Parish. You are greatly appreciated!

Nominated by Rose Dayleg

Dionne Cola
St. Benedict Parish, Oakland

Dionne Cola is a faith-filled and dedicated volunteer, providing quality ministry in so many different ways at St. Benedict Church.

She is a recent recipient of the Diocesan Medal of Merit and a graduate of the Diocese of Oakland's School of Pastoral Ministry. She started a youth after-school and summer enrichment program for St. Benedict Parish and the surrounding community. The program provided tutoring for grade school and middle school students, using high school and college students, as well as adult volunteers from the church to mentor our young people.

Dionne was on the parish council for a number of years, serving as Stewardship co-chair, vice president, and president.

Dionne is a catechist with our children's faith formation program, and is currently preparing children for First Eucharist. She serves on the liturgy committee and the retreat committee. She is a mentor for the parish young adult group (The CREW), and she is a member of St. Benedict's Cursillo community. Dionne began and helps facilitate our Wednesday small group adult faith formation/bible study group. The St. Benedict Wellness Group was started by Dionne in an effort to provide parishioners and the neighborhood with a place to go for spiritual and preventative physical wellness, which is sorely lacking in communities of color. Dionne recently represented St. Benedict at a conference for those ministering in African-American Catholic parishes.

To top it off, she is a Lector and Eucharistic Minister. Dionne is retired after 33 years of public service as an emergency services dispatcher for the Alameda County Sheriff's Department. Her presence is truly a blessing to St. Benedict, and her service in ministry here exemplifies the challenge extended to her at the School of Pastoral Ministry, to "Go wash feet."

Nominated by Rev. Jayson Landeza

Lydia Deck
Saint Theresa Parish, Oakland

Lydia Deck is a doctor of pediatrics, a loving wife, a mother of four and one of the most gracious women in our community here at Saint Theresa Parish. She has been a member at our parish for many years and has faithfully dedicated her time and talent in many ministries.

This year alone she taught 30 teens in the confirmation program and took more than 70 people to build houses in Tijuana, Mexico.

Her hardworking spirit and naturally caring nature are so invaluable to our community. Even in the midst of struggle and doubt Lydia reminds us that God is the source of our joy and He always wants us to do things that are good.

Nominated by Roxana Teran

Delia Dias
St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Berkeley

It is impossible to do justice by our volunteer nominee, Delia Dias. Delia has been a volunteer at St. Joseph the Worker Church for more than 40 years. She has graced us with her talents in many committees. She has been ever so dependable and trustworthy. All of us know she's present though she insists on staying in the background.

She was a member of the Catholic Ladies Society, and still a Legionnaire. She has been taking communion to the home-bound for at least 30 years. She did the altar linens for at least 30 years, not just washing and pressing them but actually sewing them.

Due to her age she now has had to limit her volunteer work to serving as Eucharistic Minister, selling candles on Sundays, setting up for Golden Friends, still taking communion to the home-bound.

Nominated by Elizabeth Oishi Comly

Sister Eleanor Eagan, CSJ
Carondelet High School, Concord

Sister Eleanor is known around the Carondelet community as the woman with a thousand daughters. She has been an instrumental part of the Carondelet High School community and the women it serves for 35 years, beyond her teaching career. She has assisted with alumnae, as Carondeletter editor and historian. Everyone who knows her loves her, she is a part of their families.

She has been a Sister for 65 years, and has written a book, "Valiant Women," recounting 500 years of Carondelet women whose proceeds will go toward educational scholarships.

Nominated by Lauren Seeno

Patricia Fela
St. Perpetua Parish, Lafayette

She is an incredible volunteered. She has volunteers two days each week for more than 10 years in the parish office doing whatever is needed. Not glamourous work but very needed. She is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communicion, a member of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee, the Church Art and Environment committee, Helping Hands, the committee that prepares hospitality after funerals. She also brings communion to the sick. She is pretty much available whenever there is a need in the parish. The parish would be bereft without her.

Nominated by Penny Pendola

Sandy Heinisch
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brentwood

When Sandy and Frank's son died suddenly 11 years ago, Sandy finally turned to a local Christian church for grief ministry, since she could not find any in her parish or diocese. As a nurse and a good mother, she did not want to think of others not being supported within their church when suffering such a devastating loss. So she put her faith and gifts to work to build a grief ministry program in our diocese wherever she was called. Sometimes this has led her to an outlying parish, but often she has taken her efforts on the road: instructing deacons, running parish training workshops for new teams and refreshing old.

In her home parish of IHM, "grief ministry" has led her to marriage and individual counseling, as well as organizing support groups for divorced, widowed, grief from death or loss of job and day-long workshops from Emergency Preparedness to Sex-Trafficking Victim Awareness.

There are always thoughtful reminders of a woman who knows how to care and serve. Thanks for listening to the Holy Spirit, Sandy.

Nominated by Mimi Streett

Linda Kline
St. Bede Parish, Hayward

Linda Kline is an incredible woman of faith. She has been a dedicated member of St. Bede Parish for 42 years. Linda has served on our Confirmation team, parish council, Respect for Life Committee and prepared children to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion for more than 10 years.

She was instrumental in starting the Rosary for Peace with other members of the Respect for Life group, a monthly prayer experience for our parish to share peace in all aspects of our lives.

Linda's service to the Church extends beyond St. Bede Parish through her involvement in After the Choice, a diocesan ministry that brings support and healing for women who have undergone abortion.

Her greatest joy has been providing Eucharistic Adoration for our parish community for nearly eight years. Linda helped lead the efforts to provide daily opportunities for people to spend time with the Blessed Sacrament. Every morning before Mass she prepares the space for adoration. To promote this sacred prayer experience, Linda creates posters, schedules sign-up for adorers, encourages parishioners to visit, and provides time during her Faith Formation classes with second graders to spend time with Jesus through adoration. Her passion for this ministry developed after she attended the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec where she witnessed youth who were excited to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. When asked why she is involved in the parish, Linda expressed, "I love God, and my faith is calling me to serve. The Lord moved me in a way that He had to be the center of my life. That's what the Lord wants for all of us. God never stops reaching out to us. He never gives up on us." St. Bede Parish is so blessed to have Linda Kline, a woman who walks in the footsteps of Christ and shares God's love faithfully.

Nominated by Jocelyn Pierre-Antoine

Maria Impang Lozada
St. David Parish, Richmond

Anytime you need her help, Maria Lozada is there for you.

She helps the homeless, providing food for them to eat at her house and taking them to the hospital when they need care. Maria also helps confused, homeless and mentally ill people get admitted in Contra Costa hospitals. She has appeared before the City Council championing the needs of the homeless.

Every week Maria and her husband bring food to Carmelite Convent for the nuns to eat.

Maria organized a golf tournament to raise funds to send to the Philippines after the typhoon hit.

Once Maria helped a family whose child died finance and arrange the funeral and the burial at St. Joseph Cemetery.

She organized a neighborhood in San Pablo and went to every City Council meeting to fight eminent domain that would have demolished homes by asking residents to provide pictures and evidence their living conditions were good.

She is very active in helping people.

Nominated by Elaine Leung

Henrietta Smith
St. Mark Parish, Richmond

Henrietta Smith makes things click at St. Mark Catholic Church. For more than 40 years, Mrs. Smith has been actively involved in the church serving as a Eucharistic Minister, a Lector for Sunday Mass readings, a Baptism coordinator, a teacher of faith; teaching classes of catechism to the youth as well as the RCIA program.

She is a member of the Knights of St. Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary and is the treasurer of both the Northern Inter Councils and Courts and the Rose L. Casanave Chapter 15 Ladies of Grace. She's devoted and gives her all to any and everyone who comes to her in need.

St. Mark is one where the majority of the parishioners are Hispanic, but she is the voice of the African American Community at the parish. She is one of two African American members on the pastoral council who help bridge the gap between the two communities. She does all of this as a Christian, in the midst of running her own business of child care and caring for her husband who is a stroke victim.

Nominated by Donna Smith

Marthe Stokowski

St. Isidore Parish, Danville

Marthe Stokowski is a wonderful woman who cooks hundreds of meals each week for Loaves and Fishes in Contra Costa County. She has been doing this for years. She's a resourceful woman who can use what's available to feed the hungry. "She told me the other day she was going to cook chicken cacciatore with the recipe I gave her," said Msgr. Daniel Cardelli. She has been faithful in the life of the parish, serving on the parish council and, with her husband, active in the RCIA program. "She does amazing things," said Msgr. Cardelli.

Nominated by Rev. Msgr. Daniel Cardelli

Barbara Wolpman
St. Bonaventure, Concord

Barbara Wolpman is a woman of deep faith in God and love for the Catholic Church.

Many years ago, Barbara created a Children's Choir of some renown. When they all grew up, she turned her attention to adults and what has become the Resurrection Choir that sings at parish funerals, and now, at concert and ecumenical events. With weekly rehearsals and often multiple funerals per week, she is an inspiration.

And if that would not be enough, she began to organize parish crafters coming together weekly, who have become "the Classy Crafters," who have launched a Fall Boutique raising $30,000 each year for our parish food pantry.

Barbara is mother and grandmother, and St. Bonaventure Parish thanks her for tireless energy and commitment in building community and the kingdom of God.

Nominated by Christa Fairfield

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