By Liz Sullivan
It was the only award that was a surprise. Yet, it wasn’t really a surprise to most of the more than 300 people gathered.
On May 7, the Diocese of San Jose held the 49th Annual Saint Pius X Awards Banquet at Villa Ragusa restaurant in Campbell.
In the final honor of the night, recently retired Bishop Patrick J. McGrath was awarded the Sister Maria De La Cruz Aymes, SH, Award for Excellence in Catechetical Ministry. It is an award the Bishop established.
Visibly moved, Bishop McGrath, who retired on May 1, said: “Thank you all so much. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve with you.”
Sister De La Cruz was an acclaimed leader in modern catechetics and the author of the “On Our Way” series, which provided the foundation of religious education for a generation of Catholic youth. Bishop McGrath met her when he was a seminarian in Ireland in 1969 and they became friends when he moved to San Francisco after his ordination a year later. He established this award in her honor.
The evening honored 91 catechists for 10 to 50 years of service to religious education ministry. Overall, the honorees combined for 1,650 years of service.
Also honored were: Father John Hurley, CSP, Vicar for Evangelization for the Diocese and Sister Rosalie Pizzo, SNDdeN, Bishop’s Delegate for the Religious, who are both retiring, along with Vicar General Monsignor Francis Cilia, who is moving on from his post.
Three retiring Catechetical Directors were also honored: Christina Fenn, Holy Family Parish; Angela Giampoli, Saint Victor; Anne Marie Torres, Saint Victor; Connie Torres, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and Tam Tram, Saint Joseph of Cupertino.
This dinner is a collaboration of the Diocese’s departments of Faith Formation and Hispanic Apostolate.
Bishop Oscar Cantú who became the third Bishop of the Diocese when Bishop McGrath retired, delivered some brief remarks.
“We are all so thankful for your service,” said Bishop Cantú. “You do what you do with love and that is what makes God present in our lives. When we act with great love we are acting with God’s love.”
Two honorees have served for 50 years: Malia Sophia Samatua Duran and Patricia Pena, both from Saint John Vianney.
The Saint Pius X awards are named in honor of Pope Saint Pius X, 1835-1914, who as Pope encouraged daily reading of the Bible, directed liturgical renewal and encouraged Catholics, especially in Italy, to become involved in political issues to achieve peace and order. He was most noted for lowering the age of First Communion to the age of reason.