Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published September 2, 2010

Immaculate Heart of Mary School seventh-grader Jakob Spitzer moved quickly when a boat’s propeller severely cut his aunt’s arm. The quick thinking of this 12-year-old and his act of heroism during his summer vacation was applauded by his school community.

Jakob rescued his aunt from Lake Hartwell after she was thrown from her boat by a large wave.

Jakob’s aunt, Candy Palmer-Steele, was injured by the boat’s propeller. As she surfaced, she saw her nephew close by on his jet ski and yelled to him for help.

Without hesitation Jakob dove into the water toward Palmer-Steele. He put her good arm around his shoulder and swam her to the nearest boat. He and his brother Derek, who was also on the boat, helped pull her safely on board within minutes.

Palmer-Steele said she believes that the staff and teachers at the school and church have helped shape Jakob in a positive way to prepare him for that day at the lake when he saved her life.

Runners are encouraged to lace up their sneakers for the first “Friends of the Poor” 5K Walk/Run on Saturday, Sept. 25, to benefit the St. Mary Magdalene Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

The Newnan event is a major fundraiser for the charity, which aids those in need in Coweta County. All the money helps people in the county.

“As Vincentians, we see the personal tragedy of poverty firsthand and do much to alleviate it,” said Liz Durand, chairperson of the event. Durand said they were seeking individuals to participate as well as corporate sponsors and volunteers.

In the past year, the Society at St. Mary Magdalene provided food for 347 people, clothing for 153, furniture for 13 families and home visits to 257 families.

The 5K Walk, a national program of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, will start at Carl Miller Park: 8 a.m. for walkers and 8:15 a.m. for runners. T-shirts will be awarded participants. The fee is $20 per person and $30 for a family. Walkers and runners may register at For information, call (770) 502-2394.

Sister Esther Ordonez, who serves at St. Lawrence Church, Lawrenceville, is now an American citizen.

Fearing that she wasn’t studying for the exam enough, Sister Esther bought a CD for her car travels.

“Everywhere where I went, I was studying,” she said. She passed her exam and took the oath of citizenship in April.

A native of Mexico, Sister Esther is a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. She has been in Atlanta since 1993, working at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta; Good Shepherd Church, Cumming; and for the past five years at St. Lawrence Church.

Speaking of competition, three Catholic clergymen finished the Tri Peachtree City Sprint Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 21.

At the top of the men’s 80-98 age group was Deacon Ben Gross, who finished the race in 2 hours and 12 minutes. He was the only participant in his age group. It was quite the way to celebrate Deacon Gross’ birthday. The deacon is retired.

In the men’s “Clydesdale” division, Father Victor Galier crossed the finish line in 1:24. Father Galier served as pastor at St. Matthew Church, Tyrone, and is now studying for a graduate degree at Boston College.

Deacon Steve Swope, who serves at St. George Church, Newnan, finished in 1:56 in the 50-54 age group.

The triathlon included one-third of a mile swim, 14-mile bike course and a 3.1-mile run.

Goodwill of North Georgia recognized Catholic Charities Atlanta as its Organization of the Year. Receiving the award, from left, are Pedro Martinez, program manager, family enrichment program, housing counseling; Ana Maria Ribon, program assistant, family enrichment program; Lina Rodriguez, director, family enrichment program; and Loretta Siefferman, manager of education services.

Catholic Charities Atlanta recently received the Community Organization of the Year award from Goodwill of North Georgia at its Partners Recognition Luncheon.

The director for Catholic Charities’ Family Enrichment Program, ,b>Lina Rodriguez, accepted the award at the luncheon along with program manager Pedro Martinez and lead language instructor Michael May.

Joseph Galvin, the chief operating officer for Catholic Charities Atlanta, congratulated the team. “Our program collaborates with Goodwill in several of their locations,” he said. “We are able to provide more in terms of adult education services, financial literacy and EarnBenefits counseling. It is a great example of agencies working together to increase their overall impact in the community.”

Catholic Charities Atlanta provides social services for the Atlanta Archdiocese with professional support for families in crisis, pregnant women, and immigrants and refugees. For information about Catholic Charities, visit or call (404) 881-6571.

If you have news items or submissions for Notable, contact Andrew Nelson at anelson@georgia or (404) 877-5512.