In recent weeks, friars around the Province have presented the HNP Francis Medal to a variety of helpful and dedicated people at their ministries. Future issues of this newsletter will provide reports on recognitions at St. Mary’s Church, Pompton Lakes, N.J., St. Bonaventure Church in Allegany, N.Y., and Christ the King Preparatory School in Newark, N.J.
BRANT BEACH, N.J. – A dozen faithful servants from St. Francis of Assisi Parish were given the Province’s Francis Medal in June for their service and dedication.
Stephen Kluge, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish on Long Beach Island, presented the medals to teens and elders on Pentecost Sunday.
The June 12 medal recipients represent diverse generations and ministry involvement. They were recommended by both friars and pastoral staff members because of their contributions in the spirit of St. Francis.
Anthony Bucci is a teenager who has volunteered since 2007, when he first got involved with Festival of the Sea. He has since evolved into a teen leader at church, lector at Mass and helper at the Thanksgiving meal. He was a founding member of the youth group, and he participates in fundraisers and service activities. Last year, the Diocese of Trenton awarded him the St. Timothy Award for his “example of love, faith and virtue.”
Marie and Richard Casler are long-time members of St. Francis. Richard is the minister of hospitality coordinator, counts the weekend collections, and works with the food pantry. Marie is a member of the Care Ministry, comforting the bereaved, and is a Eucharistic minister.
Sonia and Willie Cordero are credited with establishing a unified Spanish community in the area and for encouraging the church to start its Hispanic ministry. They do many of the parish’s Spanish translations. Willie is a member of the Spanish choir and Sonia is a prayer resource, opening the Cordero home for prayer meetings and spiritual comfort. Sonia is also a Secular Franciscan.
Kaitlyn Olson was recognized for being an outstanding volunteer since she was four years old, starting out as a minister of hospitality. Now the high school senior serves the church in the teen choir and as a Eucharistic minister. She is also active in youth ministry and in service clubs at her high school.
Charles and Gladys Rabinsky, married for more than 60 years, have been members of St. Francis for “longer than anyone remembers,” Stephen said. They are familiar faces at the pizza booth at the parish’s Festival of the Sea fundraiser, are Eucharistic ministers, and active fundraisers, both with the church and in the Senior Olympics.
Deacon Richard and Lynn Titmas have served the parish for more than 10 years. Richard works with couples seeking annulments and preaches at the weekend liturgies, and Lynn brings her faith to the various small ecumenical faith groups of which she is part.
Deacon George and Phyllis Walker are both Secular Franciscans. Now in their early 80s, they work with divorced and separated couples and are Eucharistic ministers. In the early 1960s, they marched with the civil rights movement.
— Wendy Healy is a Connecticut-based writer.