In recent weeks, friars around the Province have presented the HNP Francis Medal to a variety of helpful and dedicated people at their ministries.
Last month, St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes, N.J., awarded the Francis Medal to Betty Newton, a woman who retired after working more than 50 years with the parish’s religious education program. She began her affiliation with the North Jersey parish as a volunteer, and when she retired at the end of June, she was the parish bookkeeper.
In awarding the medal at a morning Mass on July 1, Frank Sevola, OFM,pastor, said that Newton had been working in religious education at St. Mary’s since the 1960s. “She has been absolutely dedicated to the values of St. Francis and to the mission of St. Mary’s Parish. We friars are most grateful to Betty for all she has done for us and for St. Mary’s.”
Alma Banta, director of religious education where Newton was a teacher and a secretary, agreed. Banta mentioned that Newtown also started a bereavement group for parents and created much of the church’s artwork for bulletins and other projects, even before the advent of computers.
“She lived the Franciscan spirit,” said Banta. “She was always there for everyone. Anything you needed done, you asked Betty. She always had a listening ear.”
Newton, the mother of three living children and five grandkids, was photographed outside the church withLawrence Anderson, OFM, Richard Husted, OFM, and Frank.
In South Carolina, John McDowell, OFM, now stationed at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Anderson, recently gave the Francis Medal to Angelo and Rafaela Cortese, a couple who has supported the Province’s campus ministry efforts in the south.
John has known the Corteses for more than 15 years, since he was chaplain at the University of Georgia, Athens, and Clemson University in South Carolina.
The Corteses have donated time and food to the universities, according to John, and have baked loaves of bread for St. Anthony Bread distribution.
“Rafaela is a seamstress who has made vestments for me,” said John, “as well as making various articles to sell in our Ye Olde Friars Shoppe at no cost to raise money for the poor in the Clemson area, as well as for our Guatemala Houses to Homes projects.”
“They both are active in the Church and have brought the Franciscan spirit with them from their native Italy,” he added.
The Francis Medal is presented by the friars of Holy Name Province to people who have displayed an uncommon contribution to the advancement of the values and ideals of St. Francis.
— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer based in Connecticut, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.