Pittsburgh Diocese honoring several local residents for service
Whether with one ministry or more, those to be honored with the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese's “Manifesting the Kingdom” award on Jan. 27 in St. Paul Cathedral, are happy just to be involved in helping their church.
“I love my church community,” said Nancy Somers, of St. Ferdinand Parish in Cranberry Township.
“They do so much for me personally, I feel compelled to give back to them.”
At 54, she has been a member for 17 years.
“I was dumbfounded. I still am,” she said, of receiving the letter from the bishop announcing her inclusion in this year's celebration.
Barb McCarthy, pastoral assistant for the last 29 years, helped Somers get involved in many of her church activities. McCarthy also was part of the nominating committee.
Biennially, each parish in the diocese gets to select someone who has given exceptional service to the membership by “showing Christ's presence in the world.”
The awards will be presented by the Most Rev. Donald Zubik, Bishop of Pittsburgh, after the “Manifesting the Kingdom” Mass in Oakland.
McCarthy, a 38-year church member, knew Somers long before the new member “realized that her talents were loved and accepted here,” McCarthy said.
The Comfort Blanket ministry attracted both women.
“I saw the comfort blankets hanging,” Somers said. “I put my hand on it and said ‘I have every skill to do this deed.' Every skill I had called me to begin there.
“Clerical and secretarial are my finest skills. Then, I go on from there. I've been typing and sewing since I was a child.”
These days, she keeps St. Ferdinand's events in the news, even using the Internet to attract the digital generation. And when she's not inviting the community to church activities, she's organizing the events themselves.
Somers plans the parish's New Year's Eve party and fundraisers and gives time to the team that instructs interested people in the Catholic faith. She photographs the parish events, does collectible research for the white elephant sale and tells the St. Ferdinand's story whenever she can.
“She does everything with a joyful heart,” said McCarthy. “She's an unselfish person. She does it for all of the right reasons.”
Ralph Camus, of Cranberry Township, has been a member of St. Gregory Parish in Zelienople since 1999.
After retiring from the Catholic Music Ministry in Pittsburgh, he looked forward to a time when he could attend Sunday Mass with the membership in the pews.
Soon, he learned the parish organist was retiring. He offered his services to the former pastor, the Rev. Charles Bergman, until a replacement could be found.
Thirteen and a half years later, Camus heads the music ministry. The bishop's letter brought tears to his eyes, he said.
“He's never missed a Sunday morning's Mass,” said Mary Ann Thompson, parish bookkeeper, who has been a lifelong member of the church.
“We have a beautiful organ here, and he makes it sound wonderful.”
The Rev. Lawrence Smith is St. Gregory's new pastor, having arrived in May from Troy Hill's Most Holy Name Church.
As he came to know the people, he was impressed by Camus.
“I learned of his love for God and his love for the people of St. Gregory's,” Smith said. “He makes everyone feel at ease with the music.”
Thompson has known Camus to be “a caring, happy guy,” she said.
“He's interested in you when you're talking to him. He's down to earth. Our kind.”
At 61, Camus' first love has been leading congregational worship, he said.
He considers it a pleasure and a privilege to direct “a wonderful adult choir, a most inspiring School Youth Choir and a cantor corps that includes 11 active members.”
He also prepares the students to sing at each Friday's Children's School Mass held at 9 a.m.
It's been a musical journey for Camus, who can count 49 years' involvement in Catholic churches throughout the area. While he has held a full-time job, the most important thing was his role in music ministries.
“God gave me the love for church music, and I wanted to make sure that I gave him my attention and commitment in return. It has proven to be the greatest joy of my life.”
Lee and Stacye DeJulius were named to the award out of St. Kilian Parish in Cranberry.
“Their efforts extend to communication and evangelization through technology, as well as insuring the Gospel message can be proclaimed as widely and freely as possible,” said the Rev. Charles Bober, pastor.
The couple joined the parish about 10 years ago when they moved to Mars. Today, their three children attend the parish school.
Lee, 37, an attorney, does pro-bono work for Catholic institutions nationwide and in the diocese.
Stacye, 39, began volunteering five years ago, when their first child enrolled in Kindergarten. Her full-time job and freelancing in web design was a skill set that the parish and school ultimately would need.
She volunteered to create the school website and moved on to the parish website and ones for youth ministry and the parish store.
When she was asked to implement and manage a school system for grade books, billing, etc., her job and freelancing faded.
“I found I wanted to spend my time at the parish in this capacity, and my real work was getting in the way,” she said.
She's now officially on staff, managing technology and marketing for the parish and the school.
But she calls her work “selfish.”
“Our world revolves around this building,” she said. “It is a blessing, and I love knowing all the kids and teachers who are such a large and influential part of my children's lives.”
She and her husband have followed the examples of many others who work for the betterment of the parish.
“It is hard to go to St. Kilian Parish and see how much time all the other parents and parishioners donate to the parish for the betterment of our parish and school community without feeling called to do the same,” she said. “It truly does take a village, and we want to do our part.”
The DeJuliuses were humbled when they heard hints of their honor.
“Father Bober joked that we were by far the youngest people at our parish to ever receive this,” she recalled.
The couple tried to convince him there were many others who were more deserving.
“‘Are you questioning my judgment?'” the pastor said with a smile. “We left it at that — embarrassed, humbled and thankful.”
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.