Plum church volunteers earn diocese award
The Rev. Thomas Galvin doesn't have any worries when he arrives to say Mass each day at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
Galvin, pastor of the church in the Unity section of Plum, is confident the candles will be lit and all the other preparations will be made by parishioner Kay Vogan.
“She gets there early and makes sure everything is taken care of before Mass,” Galvin said. “She doesn't slow down. She has picked up speed.”
Vogan, 84, of Plum is a recipient of the Manifesting the Kingdom award given by the diocesan bishop to men and women who demonstrate the presence of Jesus in their lives and have participated in exceptional service to the church, according to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh website.
The other winners are Salvi and Connie Altomare who are members of Our Lady of Joy parish in Holiday Park and William and Donnalee McCloy of St. Januarius parish in Renton.
Galvin said he nominated Vogan for the award because she gives her all to the church, even substitute teaching at St. John the Baptist Catholic School.
“If you have a work day of any sort, she will be present — even to pass out drinks,” Galvin said. “If she can't do something, she figures out how to get someone else involved. She is spiritual, dedicated and caring.”
Vogan said she enjoys keeping busy and views the church as her own. A retired teacher, she has served as a substitute for 17 years.
In addition to her teaching duties, Vogan helps prepare food to serve after funeral Masses. She also is a member of the Ladies of Charity and prepares the bulletins for distribution at Sunday Mass.
Vogan said she was thrilled when she received notice just before the holidays that she was a recipient of the Manifesting the Kingdom award.
“It is the biggest Christmas gift I ever got,” Vogan said.
St. John principal John Booher is impressed with Vogan's energy.
“The way she teaches is so dynamic,” Booher said. “She never says ‘no.' She is a dynamic and amazing person.”
Salvi and Connie Altomare, both 73, moved from Plum about two decades ago to live in Murrysville. Though the Altomares left the borough, they remained members of Our Lady of Joy parish.
The Rev. Albert Zapf, Our Lady of Joy pastor, said he nominated the Altomares because of their continued dedication to the church.
“They are very involved,” Zapf said. “They are very special people and almost everyone in the parish knows them.
The Altomares, charter members of Our Lady of Joy, were instrumental in the construction of the church nearly 45 years ago.
“We were there when they put the shovel in the ground,” said Connie Altomare who helped solicit pledges for the building project.
Connie Altomare, a retired teacher, is a past president of the Ladies Guild. She was a member of the parish council and a lector for 35 years. Also, she was a Eucharistic minister and a member of the finance council.
“I did it for the love of God and church,” said Connie Altomare who added she was a little surprised and thrilled to find out she and her husband would be receiving the Manifesting the Kingdom award.
Salvi Altomare is a past president of the parish council, chaired the annual church festival for about a decade, was a Eucharistic minister and remains an usher.
He also was a member of a committee that launched church ministries including adult education and assistance to the sick and homebound.
Salvi Altomare said he and his wife decided to remain members of Our Lady of Joy after they moved to Murrysville because of the relationships they developed.
“I am humbled by receiving it from the diocese and more importantly by Our Lady of Joy,” Salvi Altomare said.
When repairs are needed at St. Januarius, Bill McCloy, a retired electrician, is the go-to guy.
“He does all the basic maintenance work completely for free,” said Monsignor William Ogrodowski, church pastor.
Ogrodowski nominated McCloy and his wife, Donnalee McCloy, both 64, of Plum for the honor.
The McCloys, former members of Our Lady of Joy, decided to join St. Januarius about a decade ago.
McCloy said he wanted to help St. Januarius, which is an older parish than Our Lady of Joy.
“The church is 60 years old,” McCloy said. “Something is always coming up.”
In addition to doing maintenance work at the church, McCloy also serves as an usher.
He said he was surprised and honored at the news of the Manifesting the Kingdom award.
“A lot of people there do a lot of things,” McCloy said.
Donnalee McCloy, who has health problems that have prevented her from volunteering in recent years, had taught religious education classes, was a Eucharistic minister, attended to the sick in the parish, was a choir member and a parish council member.
“When you are a member of a church, you are supposed to be involved,” Donnalee McCloy said.
Donnalee McCloy said she thought there was a mistake when she and her husband received the award notification. A chance meeting with Ogrodowski confirmed the letter's authenticity.
She praised her husband for all he does at St. Januarius.
“He is Mr. Fix-It,” she said with a laugh. “He really enjoys it. The church is our second family.”
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or firstname.lastname@example.org.