NEW YORK — Pastors at several Holy Name Province churches recognized the contributions of their partners-in-ministry recently by awarding the Province’s Francis Medal. Parishes in North Carolina, Virginia, and New Jersey shared the stories of their medal winners with HNP Today.
In Raleigh, N.C.
Pastor Mark Reamer, OFM, presented medals on Oct. 4 to St. Francis of Assisi parishioners Sam and June Jordan (shown in rear photo).
The Jordans, also founding members of the parish, have been loyal and faithful parishioners with their five daughters. Sam Jordan has been a member of the finance council for the past 25 years. He oversaw the first building project of the parish, Clare Hall, and continued to guide the parish’s building project and budget over the past 25 years. June Jordan opened her home to the friars when they had to leave the friary during construction. Mark said, “Sam has provided wise counsel, humble guidance and genuine friendship to me as pastor, the friars and the entire parish.”
At St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va., Margaret, or Meg, Mountcastle was awarded a Francis Medal posthumously. Charles Miller, OFM, pastor of St. Francis, presented the medal on Oct. 4 during the parish’s fall festival to her husband, Earl.
Mountcastle, who died earlier this year, was a member of the St. Francis Parish Council, a supporter of many parish events and building projects, and because of her profession as a funeral director, was known to have consoled and guided hundreds of grieving families in the community, Charley said.
Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, former pastor of the Triangle parish, called Mountcastle a colleague and dear friend. In a letter to the parish, John wrote: “It is so difficult to accept the fact that she is no longer with us. In my 13 years as pastor, Meg and Earl were always two people that I could count on for advice and support. She was of enormous help during the early years of my time as pastor when the parish faced some difficult financial challenges. She played a major role in the capital campaign that led to the construction of the new parish center and addition to our school. In all that she did, she brought a sense of enthusiasm, hope and joy.”
Suburban New Jersey
At St. Mary’s Church in Pompton Lakes, N.J., Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, presented eight Francis Medals on Sept. 27 during the parish’s commemoration of Francis Week. The recipients were nominated by pastor Kevin Downey, OFM.
Medal recipients Joan and Ed Parker, past coordinators for the St. Mary’s food pantry, made sure the program was a “wow,” according to Kevin. He said, “Joan made the place clean, neat and orderly, and Ed kept meticulous files. Their sensible and frugal approach kept the pantry well stocked and financially sound.” The Parkers first got involved with the food pantry about nine years ago, initially to help out with the Thanksgiving turkey drive. Although they retired as coordinators, they continue to lend a hand, often helping clients bag food.
Pat Harrison and her son John were recognized for their contributions to Good Sams Ministry, whose members, acting as “good Samaritans” help people with transportation and similar tasks. They became acquainted with this group when Pat Harrison’s husband became ill; they became the ministry’s leaders after he died. They are known for not only what they do but how they do it, according to the medal presenter.
Cathy Decker was honored for being a go-to person. Over the past 30 years, she was often heard saying, “I can be there.” “No biggie, I’ll pick that up.” “I’ll take care of that.” She has worked on confirmation retreats, youth ministry and Cornerstone programs. She said, “Yes,” to the Holy Spirit 30 years ago and continues to say “Yes,” today.
Marge Thielke has made baptismal bibs since 1974 for every baby baptized at St. Mary’s, totaling more than 9,000 bibs. On each bib, she embroiders a dove with rays of light emanating from it to signify the Holy Spirit.
Mary Ungemach, her husband, Howie, and family have been members of St. Mary’s Parish since 1955. Their six children received all the sacraments and their three daughters were married at St. Mary. Over the years, Mary Ungemach has been active in the food pantry and as a CCD teacher. She has served on the sacristy committee, which later became the ambiance ministry, and on the adult choir. She believes the spirit of St. Francis lives in the St. Mary community through the dedication of the Franciscan friars.
Laurie Lauritano moved to Pompton Lakes at age 39 and thus began her 40-year association with St. Mary. For years, she was a member of the Passion Players and sang, “Were You There?” during the Women of Jerusalem service on Good Friday. She is a member of the ambiance committee, helping to keep the church clean, and serves as an usher at the noon Mass. In addition, she served for many years as the librarian for the music ministry. She is a member of several choirs, as well as the praise band where she is the ministry’s only female bass.
— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, contributes frequently to HNP Today. Jocelyn Thomas contributed to this story.