St. Mary’s Parishioners Receive Francis Medal

Maria Hayes Around the Province

POMPTON LAKES, N.J. — Faith, humility, joy and willingness to serve others — these qualities are all present in the three recipients of the HNP Francis Medal at St. Mary’s Church here, according to Gonzalo de Jesus Torres-Acosta, OFM.

Elvira Guerrero and Andres and Digna Mesa were recognized for service to their church at the feast day Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.

Since joining the parish in 2004, El Salvador native Elvira, 79, has served as lector, Eucharistic minister, and organizer for fundraisers and celebrations. She is also a community organizer and a volunteer in many positions in the church. The mother of four daughters, Elvira has seven grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. She came to the United States in 1968 as a single mother, working as a housekeeper and a seamstress to support her family.

Andres, 89, and his wife, Digna, 79, also received the medal for their work at the church as lectors, Eucharistic ministers, and organizers of parish functions. The couple came to the United States from Cuba 50 years ago and has two children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Andres and Digna have been parishioners at St. Mary’s for 20 years.

During the Mass, Gonzalo presented the award recipients, who then received their medals from pastor Frank Sevola, OFM, and Richard Husted, OFM. Elvira, Andres and Digna serve as “parent figures to all at St. Mary’s,” according to Gonzalo. “They enhance the life of our parish in significant ways. We are especially thankful for their appreciation and following of our Franciscan way of life, and their desire to make these values their own.”

Holy Name Province’s Francis Medal was established in 1998 by then-Provincial Minister John Felice, OFM. Recipients are people who have displayed an uncommon contribution to the advancement of the values and ideals of St. Francis. Earlier this fall, the friars at nearby St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Butler, N.J., honored a longtime parishioner with the medal.

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.