St. James member, St. Mary office manager to receive Manifesting the Kingdom Awards

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Their friends and colleagues say they both will do anything for anyone, and that's why John Nard, a member of St. James Church in Sewickley, and Barbara Cox, office manager for St. Mary Church in Aleppo, will be honored with the Manifesting the Kingdom Award.

They will be among more than 200 recognized by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh for their service to church and community at the 2:30 p.m. Sunday Mass at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland, where Bishop David Zubik will be celebrant.

Nard, of Bell Acres, said he was a bit taken aback when he received a letter announcing the award.

“I never got a letter from the bishop before, and I thought, ‘uh oh,'” he said with a laugh.

The Rev. Thomas Burke of St. James Church said he nominated Nard because “in just the five months as the new pastor here at St. James I saw him always around the parish helping out.

“Not only is he involved with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, he lectors at the 6:45 a.m. daily Mass and recently help set up and clean up the Christmas decorations in church.”

Nard and seven others help with the church's food bank, collect clothing, give donations to other organizations through St. Vincent de Paul.

Nard said one incident that has stuck with him is seeing grown men in tears as he and others helped local victims of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

St. Vincent de Paul member Bill Battisti of Bell Acres said Nard is a teacher and friend.

“John is humble, kind and smart. He has the ability to put people at ease, which in the St. Vincent de Paul arena is important,” he said.

“He is a good listener and doesn't pass judgment on people. He will listen to people in need and follow his thoughts with action. He helps people out through difficult times, and he's never out to say, ‘Look what I did.' “

Nard said his late mother and father, Kathleen and John Sr., instilled in him his faith and his love of helping others.

His mother volunteered at Heritage Valley Sewickley hospital, and his father was always the one to stop and help someone who broke down on the side of the road. He made sure his children always went to church.

Nard said the best thing about helping others is “seeing Jesus in the people you serve. Hopefully, we bring Him to them. God said, ‘When you wait on the least, you wait on me.'”

Cox, who has worked at St. Mary for seven years, said she was humbled when the Rev. David Jastrab, church pastor, told her about the award.

“I always tell her she is one of those people who can't say no. Every time I ask her to do something, she is always capable of doing it. She is very loyal to the people of the church,” said Geraldine Donahue, head of the church's women's guild.

Cox also helps with the guild's fundraisers.

In addition, Cox coordinates weddings and funerals at the church, puts out the church bulletin, is a member of the altar society and is the safe-environment coordinator ensuring those who work with children in the church have proper clearances.

Jastrab said Cox received the award because she “shows the light of the love of the Lord in her work at the parish.

“Barbara always shows the people consideration and respect,” Jastrab said. “She is always pleasant and spends quality time with everyone.”

But, Cox, of Ohio Township, said it's second nature for her to give back. She said she also learned about caring from the nuns as she was educated for 12 years in Catholic school in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The church's parishioners, who also never hesitate to help, make caring easy, she added.

Their caring, loving attitude is what brought Cox, her husband, Mark Muto, and their daughter, Emily Muto, to the church 15 years ago, she said.

Donahue said she is glad Cox will receive the award.

“She is multi-talented. She is the type of person who should receive it.”

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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