Francis Medal Presented to Maryland Parishioners

Mary Best Around the Province


Bernie Relf

SILVER SPRING, Md. — All Souls Day held a special meaning for two parishioners at St. Camillus Parish, as Bernie Relf and Louis Kimmakon were both awarded HNP Francis Medals in two separate Masses on Nov. 1.

Relf has been the key piece to the parish’s ministry to feed the hungry for the past 12 years, according to pastor Michael Johnson, OFM. For four days each week, Relf manages the day-to-day operations of the food pantry, which served more than 10,000 families last year.

The pantry is one of the parish’s direct service ministries and is supported by more than 150 volunteers. The organization’s missions include providing food to families in need, increasing food security, treating each person with dignity, love, and respect, and striving to provide each family with nutritious and culturally appropriate foods once per month.

In addition, Relf delivers meals on wheels to elderly and shut-in members of the community two days a week and assists in coordinating the program. Even at the age of 80, he remains committed to his parish’s ministries.


Louis Kimmakon

Kimmakon is also a vital part of the ministries of this multicultural parish. He has served as the president of the French-speaking African community, led by Fr. Jean-Marie Kabango, OFM, for the last decade and has helped integrate and include that subset of the community into the parish’s mission and ministries.

He is “a true bridge builder,” said Mike, adding that the medal recipient is also on the French council and parish council.

For the last two years, Kimmakon has taken substantial time from his schedule to travel with the pastor to Los Angeles on four occasions to participate in the Parish Catalyst program. “He was an invaluable partner in creatively dreaming how communities can be more deeply united and helped to understand and embrace the concept of Church in mission,” Mike said.

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

Earlier this year, friars presented the medal to partners-in-ministry at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Camden, N.J., at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, St. Joseph Parish in Anderson, S.C., and Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, Fla.

Mary Best is a St. Bonaventure University graduate who lives in Western New York.

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