By JEAN DRISKELL, Special to the Bulletin | Published May 3, 2018
CONYERS—At the 41st annual Atlanta Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women (AACCW) Recognition Day, 60 women and 55 high school seniors were honored for their ministries and service to the church and their communities. Recognition Day was held this year on March 17 at St. Pius X Church, Conyers. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory celebrated the Mass, which was concelebrated by a number of priests of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
AACCW past president Genevieve Jones-Geising initiated Recognition Day in 1977. Every year, for this event, each parish or mission is invited to select an outstanding woman and high school senior who are actively involved in their church and community. At the Mass the honorees are acknowledged as a group and individually.
Using St. Patrick as an example of a person of faith, Archbishop Gregory, in his homily, said, “so wonderful is the faith that Patrick left and engendered in the hearts of the Irish community that they truly became missionaries to the world.”
The archbishop said that not only do the people of Ireland claim St. Patrick as patron, but also the people of the world “because of the faith that came from that small island in the presence and in the person of the missionaries who had a treasure and gladly shared that treasure to all the world.”
“We are going to honor and recognize some of the wonderful women and young people who are such a blessing in this local church and to all its communities of faith,” Archbishop Gregory said. “In the presence of so many of my brother priests is an indication that they too recognize how blessed their local parishes are to have such generous people who care for the faith.”
He thanked the honorees for sharing their wonderful gifts with the local communities represented and “for your generosity, your wisdom, for the energy that you bring to all of our communities and the spirit of zeal and hope that you represent.”
“Our parishes depend upon your presence, your gifts and the things that you do to enrich the life of faith in each community,” said the archbishop.
Referring to the high school seniors, Archbishop Gregory said, “This was an appropriate week for us to honor young people because (they) are leading this nation right now. They have the influence and the energy and the zeal to make us face the serious problem of violence once and for all,” he said. “So the young people we recognize today somehow remind us that age is no barrier to leadership.”
“We also anticipate the great gift of Jesus’ Passion, death, and resurrection, which is the glue that holds this whole church together,” Archbishop Gregory said. “May we celebrate with joy, with hope, and with thanksgiving.”
Those recognized happy to serve
“I feel very honored that I had been chosen. It’s really special,” said Camille Preston, the teen honored from St. Peter Church, LaGrange.
“I help with vacation Bible school every year; I’m a teen leader for Life Teen, which has helped me grow in my faith,” she said.
In Life Teen, Preston assists in leading small groups, serves as a prayer leader and stays involved with prayer groups.
She is an altar server, lector and flutist at Mass. She has also been an altar server at many AACCW Recognition Days over several years.
At LaGrange High School, Preston is involved in the Service Club where they help with activities such as fun runs and ballets.
She is also active in the Girl Scouts where she, as an ambassador, earned the Gold Award, the highest achievement within the organization. One of her activities was to make an interactive mural for three- to five-year-old children to help develop and stimulate their brains.
Volunteer work is the focus
“I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it. Everyone does so much in our church,” said honoree Rita Anderson of St. Ann Church, Marietta.
She is a bereavement facilitator for people coming together on Wednesday evenings to meet in small groups to talk about their loved ones whom they have lost.
“It’s helping them to grieve,” Anderson said.
She is co-chair of the Teen Award Committee, work that entails getting applications, interviewing teens and receiving reference letters for these awards. The teens “help build houses and go on mission trips, some to South America or to places hit by hurricanes and help rebuild,” she said. “They also go on retreats.”
Volunteer work in the community and parish keeps Anderson busy.
“Every Thursday night I pack food for St. Vincent de Paul Society,” Anderson said. “This is for the less fortunate children at a local school. We make up 400 bags of food.”
She is also a facilitator for the Little Rock Bible Study, lector, eucharistic minister at Mass and to the sick and chair of the furniture division of the parish’s Apple Annie Craft Fair.
Corey Woods, another one of the youths recognized, said, “I was extremely shocked, and I felt pretty honored,”
A member at Most Blessed Sacrament Church, Atlanta, Woods is the Junior Grand Knight in the Knights of Peter Claver. One of the service projects he is involved in is serving a meal to the homeless.
“We gave them chicken, mac and cheese, coleslaw, biscuits, and then sandwiches and snacks to take with them,” Woods said.
He is first sergeant in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at West Lake High School.
“After college I want to go into the Air Force and become an electrical engineer,” he said.
Woods is an usher at Mass and is involved in sports including soccer, basketball, track, swimming, cross country and tennis.
Maria Almeida was honored for her work at St. Matthew Church, Winder. She is president of the Women’s Club where one of their activities is a tea reception called Tea for Three. Another activity she is involved with is Soup Night, which is a fundraiser for the Women’s Club and the building fund.
A eucharistic minister and member of the Charismatic Prayer Group, Almeida helps collect socks for veterans and prepare the Christmas luncheon for the church staff.
Honored as the youth of the year from St. Gerard Majella Church, Fort Oglethorpe, Patrick Redman works with various groups at his high school, as well as his parish.
“I am collaborating with student organizations at my local high school to help bring suicide awareness and prevention to other high schools across the state,” he said.
Redman said that at Life Teen he learned about the Mass and the Catholic Church.
He is a member of the Knights of Columbus First Degree, an altar server and involved with the hospitality ministry, greeting people before Mass and helping them if they need anything.
Chisom Amanda Ukwuoma, of St. Paul of the Cross Church, Atlanta, is vice grand lady of the Junior Daughters of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary. She is active in the teen ministry where every third Saturday she helps feed the hungry by making sandwiches and distributing them in Atlanta to the homeless. She is also a cantor for the young adult and children’s choirs.
About her recognition, Ukwuoma said, “I was shocked and really happy and thankful I was nominated.”
Outstanding Women of the Year
Maria C. Almeida, St. Matthew Church, Winder; Rita Anderson, St. Ann Church, Marietta; Barbara Ange, St. Joseph Church, Marietta; Laurel Armbruster, Mary Our Queen Church, Peachtree Corners; Rosalie Blair, St. Marguerite d’Youville Church, Lawrenceville; Jeanie Blowers, St. Vincent de Paul Church, Dallas; Earline Brown, Most Blessed Sacrament Church, Atlanta; Donna Burroughs, St. Peter Church, LaGrange; Sandy Byrnes, St. Gabriel Church, Fayetteville; Caroline Camick, Holy Cross Church, Atlanta; Sharon Cook, St. Mary Church, Toccoa; Debbie Eberhard, St. Francis of Assisi Church, Cartersville; Sarah Finger, St. Patrick Church, Norcross; Dr. Cynthia Fordyce, St. Thomas More Church, Decatur; Dorothy Gallagher, St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Alpharetta; Carol Harper, St. James Church, Madison; Keum Hee Nam, Korean Martyrs Church, Doraville; Laura Hernandez, St. Bernadette Church, Cedartown; Mickie Hofmann, St. Mary Mother of God Church, Jackson; Mayreais Honore, Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Decatur; Teri Hughes, St. Gerard Majella Church, Fort Oglethorpe; Lisa Isaac, St. George Church, Newnan; Dr. Geraldine Jackson White, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Atlanta; Jan Kump, Sacred Heart Church, Milledgeville; Tonya Landers, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church, Douglasville; Melody Lemoine, St. Luke the Evangelist Church, Dahlonega; Norma Leon Licea, Our Lady of the Americas Mission, Lilburn; Susan Lobdell, Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta; Lynda Longino, St. Paul of the Cross Church, Atlanta; Momilani Magyar, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Mission, Warm Springs; Lucia Martin, Our Lady of La Salette Church, Canton; Connie Mattingly, Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta; Linda E. Obata, Christ Our Hope Church, Lithonia; Chris Ornelas-Johnson, St. Joseph Church, Athens; Ryunsun Pak, St. Andrew Kim Mission, Duluth; Juana Patino, St. Augustine Church, Covington; Dianne Peabody, St. Andrew Church, Roswell; Eileen Posada, Good Shepherd Church, Cumming; Kathy Randall, St. Philip Benizi Church, Jonesboro; Phyllis Randall, St. Monica Church, Duluth; Leyda Rojas, Our Lady of the Mountains Church, Jasper; Diane Ross, Corpus Christi Church, Stone Mountain; Rebecca Sartain, St. Catherine of Siena Church, Kennesaw; Cathy Schneider, St. Brigid Church, Johns Creek; Sandy Sebacher, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta; Amelia Seid, St. Michael Church, Gainesville; Josephine Simbillo, St. John Vianney Church, Lithia Springs; Jane Elizabeth Smith, St. Brendan Church, Cumming; Mary Sprague, St. Mary Magdalene Church, Newnan; Madonna Streeter, St. James the Apostle Church, McDonough; Joyce Todman, St. Lawrence Church, Lawrenceville; Mary Twiner, St. Jude the Apostle Church, Sandy Springs; Estela Valdez, St. Michael the Archangel Church, Woodstock; Amy Vaughn, St. Peter the Rock, Thomaston; Leona Wall, Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Hartwell; Joan Wernecke, St. Oliver Plunkett Church, Snellville; Dorothy Wesselmann, Transfiguration Church, Marietta; Margaret Wilkerson, St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta; Lisa Wright, St. Pius X Church, Conyers; and Kristine Yacovone, Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Atlanta.
Outstanding Youth of the Year
John Anwar, Corpus Christi Church, Stone Mountain; Madison Barkley, St. Ann Church, Marietta; Morgan Biagioni, St. Andrew Church, Roswell; Jake Blair, St. Brigid Church, Johns Creek; Soleil Brown, Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Decatur; Emily Carrillo, St. John Vianney Church, Lithia Springs; Colette Cassar, Mary Our Queen Church, Peachtree Corners; Destiny Chase-Strider, St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta; Adriana Collins, Our Lady of La Salette Church, Canton; Steven Couch, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Carrollton; Kayla Creech, Good Shepherd Church, Cumming; Roman Cruz-Olmedo, Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta; Nathan Cung, St. Oliver Plunkett Church, Snellville; Leslie Desantos, St. Matthew Church, Tyrone; Austin Doty, St. Michael the Archangel, Woodstock; Layla Duffy, St. Catherine of Siena Church, Kennesaw; Molly Edwards, Holy Family Church, Marietta; Christopher Ejike, St. Augustine Church, Covington; Marisabela Escobar, St. George Church, Newnan; Theresa Fenton, St. Joseph Church, Marietta; Cailin Ferguson, Our Lady of the Mountains Church, Jasper; Amber Galloway, Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta; Corin Hoell, Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Hartwell; Sebastian Hurtado, St. Matthew Church, Winder; Rollin Benjamin Ivey, Holy Cross Church, Atlanta; Emma Johnson, St. Lawrence Church, Lawrenceville; Eden Y. Jung, St. Andrew Kim Mission, Duluth; Colum Lowery, Sacred Heart Church, Milledgeville; Britney Martinez, Our Lady of the Americas Mission, Lilburn; Michael Masak, St. Jude the Apostle Church, Sandy Springs; Dennis Morales, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta; Grace Njoroge, St. Francis of Assisi Church, Cartersville; Esmeralda Paez, St. Michael Church, Gainesville; Noah Parkhurst, St. Monica Church, Duluth; Bridget Patterson, St. Thomas More Church, Decatur; Chloe Patterson, St. Mary Mother of God Church, Jackson; Paul Plaia IV, Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Atlanta; Camille Preston, St. Peter Church, LaGrange; Bethy Anhay Ramirez-Sanchez, St. Patrick Church, Norcross; Guadalupe Rebollar, St. Pius X Church, Conyers; Patrick Redman, St. Gerard Majella Church, Fort Oglethorpe; Gretchen Reifenberger, All Saints Church, Dunwoody; Alondra Ruiz-Miranda, St. Peter the Rock Church, Thomaston; Jonathan Salas, St. Philip Benizi Church, Jonesboro; Mary Seol, Korean Martyrs Church, Doraville; Nathan Shepherd, St. Marguerite d’Youville Church, Lawrenceville; Vincent Snyder, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church, Douglasville; Sarah Steinemann, St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Alpharetta; Lindsey Tucker, St. Gabriel Church, Fayetteville; Chisom Amanda Ukwuoma, St. Paul of the Cross Church, Atlanta; Jose Villagomez, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Smyrna; Craig Weber, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Atlanta; Maggie Welch, Transfiguration Church, Marietta; Chris Wilkinson, Christ Our Hope Church, Lithonia; and Corey Woods, Most Blessed Sacrament Church, Atlanta.
A list of the winners may be viewed here.