MANCHESTER – Recipients of the St. Joseph Medal of Appreciation are people who are as unique as the diverse array of services they perform in parishes across the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Archbishop Henry Mansell recognized 208 parishioners for distinguished service and presented each of them with the St. Joseph Medal, named for the patron of the Archdiocese, during a ceremony at the Cathedral on April 14. Click here to see full list of winners. Click here to see full photo gallery.
Every year for more than a decade, pastors from across the archdiocese have nominated a person or couple from their parish to receive the medal of appreciation. Nominees are volunteers who share their time and talent for the benefit of their parish community.
"The medal recipients share their gifts of expertise, time and commitment to their churches without expecting anything in return. They give of themselves out of kindness, and their desire to spread the grace of God," said Archbishop Mansell.
This year, as in preceding years, honorees have demonstrated long-term commitment and dedication to their parishes. They are energetic, yet humble, and show initiative while engaging in activities that serve others and that they, themselves, enjoy.
Like Ernest Maynard, a member of St. Bernard Parish in Enfield, most of the have given to their parishes for many years.
At age 89, Mr. Maynard is an usher who also serves at daily Masses and funerals.
Although nominated by Father John Melnick, pastor of St. Bernard, Mr. Maynard said that he has volunteered for the parish during the tenure of 14 different pastors who have been assigned to the church.
Dorothy Beaucar is a lifelong member of St. Joseph Parish in Bristol. Miss Beaucar attended the parish school and began volunteering for her parish while she was a high school student. Even after she moved across town, Miss Beaucar remained an active member of St. Joseph’s. Now 94, she has over the years served numerous parish groups and committees and also volunteers for the Red Cross and Chamber of Commerce.
Miss Beaucar said that her volunteer work provides a feeling of satisfaction and belonging and brings her closer to her faith. Her currently favorite volunteer activity is sewing for children in Haiti; she sews baptismal robes and diapers.
"Dot is a woman of many great qualities and talents, but among her greatest are her faith, devotion and joyful personality," said Father Joseph DiSciacca, pastor of St. Joseph. "She has been a prized member of our parish family; her presence, smile and goodness make us all better followers of Jesus, the Lord."
St. Joseph Medal recipient Monique Beaulieu, a parishioner of Our Lady of Mercy in Plainville, "can always be found assisting others," said Father John Brinsmade, pastor. "Monique has been very helpful to the parish in so many ways over the years."
Ms. Beaulieu’s enthusiasm and energy belie her age, 81.
"Staying home is not very good," she said.
She said she was surprised, excited and humbled when she learned that she had been nominated for the recognition, adding, "It is a very big honor."
Joseph Langer, a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Manchester, said he felt both humbled and conflicted about receiving the medal.
"I’ve always thought that almsgiving should be done privately, yet I’m being honored and recognized in a very public way," he said.
His pastor, Father Stephen Sledesky, said in his nomination that Mr. Langer was inspired to care for an area surrounding the outdoor statue of Mary near the church building. Tending the plot had been one of his beloved wife Gloria’s volunteer activities, Father Sledesky wrote.
"After Gloria’s death, Joe began to care for the same garden in memory of her. Gradually, he expanded his gardening work around the parish property to include numerous flowerbeds around the church building and rectory. He can often be seen, shortly after sunrise, spending countless hours weeding, planting, pruning and watering." said Father Sledesky.
"Joe’s love and care for his parish and his dedicated service inspire others to give of themselves, as well," he said.
As Mr. Langer puts it, he just saw something that needed to be done, so he did it.
"I enjoy doing it and think it’s important for people who come to church to have nice gardens and grounds," said Mr. Langer.
In remarks to the medal recipients, their families and friends, who packed the cathedral, Archbishop Mansell spoke of the renewed excitement and heightened participation in local parishes and around the world that has occurred since the announcement of Pope Francis’s election.
"His down-to-earth approach [and his way] of meeting people where they are" is an example and an inspiration for us all, said Archbishop Mansell.
But despite the renewed enthusiasm, he went on, the world and the Church continue to face challenges and difficult problems. People like the St. Joseph Medal recipients, he said, provide great hope.
"You are the Church. You do the work that makes a difference," said the archbishop, reflecting on "the work that goes on all the time" in parishes across the archdiocese.
You make it happen," he said. "[I] give thanks to all of you for the miracle that you are. You are a tremendous source of inspiration."