Friars Present Francis Medals to Three for Serving Province

Jocelyn Thomas Features

The friars of Holy Name Province recently awarded Francis Medals to an employee of Siena College and a couple from Paterson, N.J.

Siena College president Kevin Mackin recognized longtime dining service hostess Matilda Vawter (in photo with a Francis Medal during a festive luncheon on Feb 22.

In his tribute, Kevin said: “I’m delighted to recognize Mrs. Matilda Vawter, affectionately known to all of us as Mrs. V, who is retiring after 31 years of outstanding service as our hostess in Serra Dining Hall. She is so beloved that she received last year the ‘Vice President for Student Affairs Special Recognition Award.’ ”

According to Kevin, Mrs. V, a mother of three, “Always has a ready smile, remembers faces and names, and is beloved by thousands of students, faculty, and staff who have passed through the dining hall.” “She is a woman extraordinaire: A WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in the U.S. Navy.”

He added, “She is an avid basketball fan, and is my personal advisor.  When I ask her what she thinks, she always responds, ‘Works for me… go with it’.”

Mrs. V. symbolizes Franciscan values; she has a respect for everyone and a strong commitment to her tasks.  She displays joy and optimism as well as outstanding service and good humor.

“All of us will miss Mrs. V. very much, especially her good humor,” Kevin said.

In January, the friars of St Bonaventure Church in Paterson recognized long-time parishioners Charlie and Catherine (Kay) Tedeschi with a Francis Medal. They were nominated by pastor Daniel Grigassy who said that Mr. and Mrs Tedeschi as well as their daughters, Cathryn and Charlene, are faithful parishioners.

Dan said that “Charlie and Key are the embodiments of selfless and quiet service, never seeking anything in return.”

He added that for three decades “during the administration of four pastors, Charlie has attended faithfully to several hidden tasks and has  lightened the burden of both friars and staff.  He has served as an usher for many years and has purchased many supplies at his own expense.“

Kay, too, has labored tirelessly for the friars, he said.

“She cooked and cleaned in the Friary, assisted the friars in the breadline, and prepared beds in the rapid turnover of retreatants. While the new friary was being built, she also cleaned the interim friary.

“During all these years of generous service to the friars, neither Kay nor Charlie ever asked for reimbursement,”  Dan said.

Late last year, Charlie notified Dan that, because of weak health, he needed to stop working for the parish.

“Even at age 87, he  was reluctant to hand over his responsibilities,”  Dan said.  His absence over the last few months has revealed to us the many tasked that Charlie tended to so quietly and faithfully over his years of service. “Charlie and Kay are truly models of Franciscan  simplicity and generosity.”

Holy Name Province’s Francis Medal was established in 1998 by then-Provincial Minister John Felice. Receipients are given a three-inch bronze medallion disk in a case along with a gray parchment paper certificate marked with the Seal of the Province.