Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh recognizes dedicated service with award
A legacy of service distinguishes people who get a Manifesting the Kingdom Award from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Every two years, people from every parish in the diocese — along with members of local religious congregations — receive the award for exceptional church service and demonstrating “the presence of Jesus in their lives.”
Bishop David Zubik will present the awards to three couples, five individuals and one religious sister from local communities after Mass at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 27, in St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood.
Pastors and leaders of religious communities traditionally nominate the hundreds of awardees, who then receive a letter from Zubik, informing them of their selection.
“They all say, ‘I'm not worthy,'” said Laura Wagner, a secretary in the diocesan office of the associate general secretary, which administers the awards program.
“They are very touched by this,” Wagner said. “A lot of these people have dedicated their lives to the service of the church, and they think nobody saw that.”
The local awardees are:
Joseph and Mary Ellen Bosack of Shaler and St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Hampton.
Joseph Bosack serves on the church's worship commission and oversees the parish's ushers.
“Every time there is an event where the church doors are open, Joe is here to make sure we have ushers,” said the Rev. John Marcucci, pastor.
Mary Ellen Bosack oversees the parish's Martha's Hands group that plans, organizes and serves food at farewell receptions and other events not sponsored by other parish organizations.
“As a couple, they're both committed to St. Mary's parish family,' Marcucci said. “They both have significant roles.”
James and Mary Kane of Hampton and St. Ursula Parish, Hampton.
The Kanes are key organizers of the parish's popular and expansive weeklong festival — affectionately dubbed “the World's Fair” — which opens on Memorial Day each year and annually raises about $55,000 for St. Ursula Parish, according to the Rev. Garrett Dorsey, pastor.
“Jim is general chairman and Mary works with him,” Dorsey said. “They both are on the organizing committee that starts to meet right after the first of the year.
“Jim and Mary have been longtime parishioners,” Dorsey said. “They are very active at St. Ursula's in a variety of ways.”
The Kanes also volunteer in multiple programs sponsored by Hampton-based North Hills Community Outreach, including the agency's food bank and Faith in Action program.
Vincent and Mary Morreale of Adams Township, Butler County, and St. Alphonsus Parish in Pine.
The Rev. Peter Murphy, pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish, described the Morreales as “great initiators.”
Mary Morreale initiated the parish's Scripture study series for adults, “which has enlisted more than 60 adults, for 30 sessions a year,” said Murphy.
Five years ago, Vincent Morreale led efforts to launch the parish's annual Lenten's fish fries, which have raised $50,000 a year, according to Murphy.
Vincent Morreale also helped to launch the parish's North Pittsburgh Ironmen football team of fourth- to eighth-graders.
Michael Raczkiewicz of Richland and St. Richard Parish, Richland.
Raczkiewicz performs many roles in the parish, ranging from volunteer altar server to grass cutter.
Raczkiewicz also teaches religious classes for second-graders and helps with the parish's middle and high school youth groups, according to Mary Jordan, pastoral associate for St. Richard Parish.
“He's a very humble guy,” said the Rev. Tom Sparacino, pastor. “He really has a willing heart to serve.”
Sister Lois Spinnenweber of Shaler and the Sisters of Divine Providence.
Sister Lois serves the conferences of the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Hampton and St. Juan Diego Parish in Sharpsburg. She runs the conferences' food pantry in a former garage near the St. Mary Parish rectory in Hampton.
“We nominated her because of the devotion with which she has carried out her work over the years with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, said Sister Mary Traupman of the Sisters of Divine Providence, a member of the congregation's provincial council.
Sister Lois, who also is apostolate minister at St. Mary Parish, spends a lot of her time visiting parishioners and distributing Holy Communion to them in local hospitals and nursing homes.
“We are all in this together to do God's work — to make God's love more visible in the world, to let him be known to the people we serve,” said Sister Lois.
Nancy J. Coyne Graswick of All Saints Parish, Etna
Graswick has remained active in All Saints Parish throughout her life. She is the past president of the Christian Mothers and Ladies Guild, past member of the parish council, past instructor of the parish marriage classes and current president of the Ladies of Charity.
She also doesn't hesitate to help those in need, said the Rev. John Gudewicz, church pastor. When a flood devastated the Pittsburgh area after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Graswick volunteered her time to the flood renovation project.
“She's been active in all those things helping people,” Gudewicz said. “She is an active Catholic showing her Catholic faith.”
Carol Haubach of Holy Spirit Parish in Millvale.
If there is an event or program being hosted by Holy Spirit Parish, one can expect to see Haubach involved.
“Name something, and she is doing something as part of it,” said the Rev. Dan Whalen, pastor.
Haubach is the past president of the parish council and Christian Mothers and Women's Guild. She is a cantor and sings in the choir and teaches CCD classes. Haubach also helps with the parish picnic and cash bash.
“It's invaluable service,” Whalen said of Haubach's efforts. “Parishes can't function without volunteers. She does it so effortlessly.”
Anne Rakszawski of St. Catherine of Sweden Parish in Hampton.
When calling St. Catherine of Sweden, one of the first voices a caller hears is Rakszawski's.
As the parish secretary, Rakszawski directs any inquiries to the appropriate parish staff, as well as handles all of the church scheduling. She also edits the weekly bulletins.
“I really like my job,” Rakszawski said. “I like the people I work with. It's a wonderful environment to be in everyday.”
As the parish secretary, Rakszawski knew of the Manifesting the Kingdom Award, but never expected she would be considered for it.
“I was very surprised,” Rakszawski said about receiving the letter from the diocese. “I've known some of the other recipients over the years and admired them and was really surprised I was considered in that category.”
Richard and Janet Kopec of St. Nicholas Parish in Millvale.
The Kopecs maintain an active lifestyle in retirement by serving their church.
“They are just always there in one function or another,” said Whalen, who serves as pastor of St. Nicholas along with Holy Spirit Parish. “Anything the parish needs, they are willing to step up and help.”
Richard Kopec sits on the finance council of the parish.Janet Kopec is active in the church's fundraising efforts, particularly the fleamarket. She also is part of the Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka.
“We're very lucky to have good parishioners who step up to help the parish because it helps everybody,” Whalen said.
Eleanor Marshall of St. Bonaventure Parish in Shaler.
Marshall is one of the first people new parishioners meet when becoming a Catholic through St. Bonaventure Church's Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program.
While Marshall has volunteered her time in diocesan programs and as a lector at St. Bonaventure, she focuses her time and talents on serving in the RCIA process for people entering the Catholic faith.
“She is a great face to the parish in welcoming new members,” said the Rev. John Sweeney, pastor. “She's a very gracious and gentle woman and a great asset to welcoming new parishioners to the parish.”
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or email@example.com.