Published July 7, 2005
Catholic Social Services, Inc. recently presented the 2005 Archbishop John F. Donoghue Award to Paul Caruso of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Alpharetta.
The award was presented to Caruso on June 24 during a special Mass and breakfast celebration at his parish. CSS established the Archbishop Donoghue Award in 2003, honoring the previous archbishop’s commitment to volunteerism. For the second year, CSS recognized a parish volunteer who has gone beyond the usual scope of volunteerism and whose contributions reflect the social teachings of Jesus Christ, with special concern for those most in need and most vulnerable.
The selection committee chose Caruso, nominated by his pastor Msgr. David Talley, from one of the many nominations submitted from throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Some years ago Caruso participated in the ecumenical Kairos Prison Ministry, during which men and women participate in a four-day retreat, ministering to prison inmates in Georgia correctional facilities. The retreat had such an impact on Caruso that he quit his job and established the St. Joseph Cafasso Prison Ministry, which he incorporated as a nonprofit organization five years ago. His deep desire to bring Christ’s word and peace to the people in prisons spawned his action to take this ultimate step of leaving behind the corporate world to dedicate his life to service.
Through this ministry Caruso has sought to create an ongoing Catholic presence at Hays State Men’s Prison in Trion and Pulaski State Women’s Prison in Hawkinsville. This ministry has also been granted the opportunity to minister to and bring Holy Communion, Bibles and rosaries to inmates in the Fulton County Jail, Roswell City Jail, Catoosa County Jail, Clarke County Jail and Macon State Men’s Prison in Oglethorpe.
Caruso’s answer to this calling has opened prison doors. He has achieved pioneering results in Georgia to make prison ministry more acceptable and welcome by prison and corrections personnel and inmates alike.
An active member of St. Thomas Aquinas since 1987, Caruso serves as a lector and eucharistic minister. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and participates in all of the Knights’ charitable works. He has been active in the Gospel Justice Commission of the parish and has taken part in the work of the pastoral council. He involves himself in every parishwide event.
Archbishop-emeritus Donoghue celebrated the Mass, and Michael Cote, chairman of the Catholic Social Services board of directors, and Sandra Hollett, executive director, presented the award to Paul Caruso.
All 2005 nominees reflected the award’s criteria, which called for outstanding volunteer services in the parish and the community that reflect Catholic Social Services’ mission of serving people of all backgrounds and religions, especially those most vulnerable and in need. The first Archbishop Donoghue award was presented to Elva and Dominic Saltaformaggio of St. Benedict Church, Duluth, in 2004. Nominees for 2005 from other parishes were also recognized. They include:
Lenore Demarco of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Cartersville; Laura Hernandez and Mac McAllister of St. Bernadette Church, Cedartown; Terry Foust of St. Anthony Church, Blue Ridge; Luis Davila of Good Samaritan Church, Ellijay; Ginny Boll of St. Andrew Church, Roswell; Robert Burke of St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Smyrna; Lee Buechele of Corpus Christi Church, Stone Mountain; Robert Kiel of Queen of Angels Church, Thomson; Grisselle Maria Lares-Bazzani of St. Catherine of Siena Church, Kennesaw; Robert Zimmer of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta; Thomas Coleman of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta; Sally Miller of Holy Spirit Church, Atlanta; Sal and Fran Sclafani of St. Michael the Archangel Church, Woodstock; and Robert and Anne Needham of St. Matthew Church, Winder.