|May 23, 2016 • VOL. 54, NO. 10 • Oakland, CA|
| Unsung Heroes
Who are our unsung heroes?
The Catholic Voice asked East Bay Catholics to tell us about the "unsung heroes" who make a difference in their parishes. Here are some examples of the people whose ministries make life not only in the parish, but in the community at large, better by their acts of kindness and generosity.
"I can't think of anyone more committed and dedicated to St. Benedict parish than Rufus Fisher. A long-time parishioner, Rufus was one of the last Diocese of Oakland awardees of the medal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, a papal award granted to those who have given outstanding service to the Catholic Church. Rufus was bestowed this honor in 2000.
He has been the volunteer facilities and plant manager for the parish for many years, supervising the upkeep and maintenance of the parish grounds and buildings. Rufus' continued ministry and commitment of service to St. Benedict parish includes the following: lead collection counter; parish council member, active member of the Knights of St. Peter Claver, Council 336; organizes and straightens the pews every Monday morning; leads in the recitation of the Rosary prior to the 8:30 a.m. Sunday liturgies during May and October; has trained the parish altar servers. In so many different ways, Rufus is the heart of St. Benedict parish. He has served this parish, my predecessor Rev. Jay Matthews, and our Lord with such devotion and care. St. Benedict is deeply and profoundly blessed and grateful for Rufus' dedicated and attentive service throughout the years. I consider myself to be graced and lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside someone of such high caliber and integrity."
— Rev. Jayson Landeza
"Mabel was born in Oakland in 1926 and became an active participant at St. Louis Bertrand Parish as a young girl, and has never quit. She began singing in the choir at the age of 10 and her melodic voice remains strong. She belonged to several choirs over the years and began directing choirs from her 14th birthday.
Currently at age 90, she is the organist at our Sunday Mass for our Spanish-speaking community. Her Spanish speaking skills, based on her Portuguese roots, are often called upon when conducting church business. She finds special joy in working with her Latino friends bringing prayer through song and encouraging greater participation in the Mass.
Mabel has served seven years as head of the Pastoral Council. She is facilitator of Golden Friends, a social group for parish seniors, and is known as the "go to it gal" for such events as our crab feed, annual festivals and repasts. She has a pivotal role in the parish effort to unite a diverse flock into a genuine family through music, her joy in life.
— Richard J. Vannucci
"This year I would like to submit the name of Sharon Perkins as the honoree from St. Lawrence O'Toole-St. Cyril of Jerusalem Parish. Sharon is active in several parish ministries.
She currently shares her voice in song as a member of the choir. She helps in planning liturgical celebrations as a member of the Liturgy Committee. She works tirelessly keeping the church beautified while working with members of the Arts and Environment Committee.
She also uses her talents to minister to those who have recently suffered the loss of a loved one in her role as a coordinator of funerals. In the past she has served on the Parish Council and helped in other ministries.
She is a vital asset to our community and her hard work and dedication are truly appreciated. Thank you Sharon for all you do for our parish. May God bless for all of your work."
— Margaret Soublet
"I would like to nominate Mary Barranco for recognition as one of St. John's amazing volunteers for her personal dedication and commitment to serving the body of Christ.
For more than 15 years she has been the lead catechist for St. John's SPRED group and diligently
supports the diocesan-wide SPRED training program and fundraising events.
As a Helper Catechist for SPRED, I have worked with Mary for several years. She is really special because of the love you can feel in everything she does to help other people. She heads St. John's Liturgical Committee and I have seen her at work as a lector, preparing the palms for Palm Sunday, organizing the Children's Mass for Christmas and Easter and making the list/schedule for flower care in the church.
For the parish, she has organized for several years the Hidden Treasures bazaar during the annual festival, the Giving Tree Program for the needy and also the Golden Age Dinner festivities for the senior and special needs parishioners every December. She is an active member of the St. Gerard Women's Club and the Cursillo group. I am amazed at how she juggles her time between her many ministries and remains positive and happy."
— Rita Ewing
"Nathaniel "Nat" Bornor is currently the president of the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at St. Benedict parish, a position he has held for the past six years. Actively involved with St. Vincent de Paul for more than 10 years, Nat received the Diocesan Medal of Merit in 2015 in recognition of his outstanding service to the Diocese of Oakland in ministering to the neediest in our East Oakland community.
Nat and the St. Vincent de Paul Conference of St. Benedict parish are also the recipients of two Catholic Charities of the East Bay/Catholic Relief Services Stewardship Awards in 2006 and 2015, recognizing their work in alleviating the poverty in our area.
During the past 10 years, Nat has coordinated the distribution of food to more than 1,700 families in East Oakland.
In addition, the parish SVdP Conference has provided financial assistance for those needing desperate help with rent, utilities and household needs. Nat is always present and responsive to the variety and multitude of needs that come to the St. Benedict SVdP Conference.
He is also a member of our parish council. Nat is known for his positive attitude and is a warm, caring, generous person who is deeply sympathetic to the needs of others. He is a blessing to St. Benedict and to our East Oakland community."
— Rev. Jayson Landeza
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