Couple Receives Francis Medal at New Jersey Parish

HNP Communications Around the Province

POMPTON LAKES, N.J. — Religious education is crucial to any parish, and no one knows that better than St. Mary’s Church, where Rosemary Keating, the longtime secretary of its program, was recently honored.

Keating, along with her husband, Ray, one of the founders of the parish food pantry, received the Francis Medal on Oct. 6, from pastor Frank Sevola, OFM.

The two recently retired from their positions — Rosemary after 26 years, and Ray after five.

Alma Banta, director of elementary school religious education, who worked with Rosemary for many years, praised her shining attitude.

“The Franciscan spirit we celebrate this weekend has often be described, not as some spiritual exercise or theology, but simply as an attitude … an attitude towards people, an attitude towards life,” said Banta. “For 26 years, I had the privilege of sharing the CCD office with someone who lived and breathed that attitude on a daily basis.”

Banta recalled Keating as the “voice” of religious education. She called her the “first voice that parents heard when they called our office,” the “welcoming voice to new parents,” a  “comforting voice to concerned parents,” and the “patient voice to angry parents.”

Keating spent hours making sure that each child was put in the class most suited to him or her, and many of the CCD program ideas were hers.

Her husband, Ray, whose length of service was not as long as his wife’s, but was nonetheless as devoted, was honored for running the food pantry for five years. He still volunteers with both the parish food program and the Passaic County Food Bank in Paterson.

Holy Name Province’s Francis Medal was established in 1998 by then-Provincial Minister John Felice, OFM. Recipients are people who have displayed an uncommon contribution to the advancement of the values and ideals of St. Francis.

Last year, the Pompton Lakes friars gave Francis Medals to four parishioners. Three were recognized at the feast day Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 and one, Betty Newton who had worked for more than 50 years in the parish’s religious education program, received her medal in July.

— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.