From singing in the choir to bringing Communion to shut-ins, they're the unsung heroes of the parish, those members of the laity who provide dedicated service to their parishes or the archdiocesan Church.
On Nov. 25, 26 individuals will be recognized with Archdiocese of Vancouver Stewardship Awards, which are given out every three years to recipients who exemplify lives of gratitude and generosity while living out our Archdiocesan Priorities and Goals.
This year’s recipients are:
Rita Blanchette, St. Mary’s, Chilliwack
Rita Blanchette has provided exceptional service to her parish and the Chilliwack community over many years, from facilitating a home prayer group and taking seniors on outings, to reading at Mass and leading prayers of the faithful at Mass. As a member of the CWL for 55 years, she has served in many capacities including on the Vancouver diocesan CWL council, helping to keep it up to date on political issues in her community and in the nation.
Charlene and Don Bourcier, Church of the Assumption, Powell River
Charlene and Don Bourcier have been active parishioners for 40 years, serving as Marriage Encounter leaders as well as on the parish leadership team and the Maranatha charismatic prayer group, which organizes Life in the Spirit and other retreats. Charlene leads youth ministry and Alpha, reads at Mass, organizes lector schedules, sings in the choir, and is now choir leader. She also leads Scripture study and is a collection counter. Don is an active member of the Knights of Columbus and has been Grand Knight three times, serving at pancake breakfasts, organizing parish dinners, and reading and ushering at Mass.
Neville Buckle, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Surrey
Neville Buckle has contributed in numerous ways to his parish, from regularly preparing the church for Mass to serving at the altar. He has been a PREP instructor, counted collection money, sung in the choir, and been part of a variety of parish organizations including the men’s and prayer groups as well as Cursillo. In many ways he has served as the right-hand man for the many priests who have served in the parish.
Bill and Cecilia Curtis, Christ the Redeemer, West Vancouver
Bill and Cecilia Curtis are charter members of the parish with a lengthy stewardship record. They have served extended terms as Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus and president of the CWL respectively, giving decades of leadership and generosity to these organizations. They are widely known for their support of marriage, family, and Canadian society. They have served on the parish education committee and pastoral council, and tirelessly volunteered for parish activities such as Alpha, Discover, and the men’s prayer group. Cecilia taught PREP for years and was instrumental in organizing the stewardship fair. They have both served as extraordinary ministers of holy Communion and welcoming ministers.
Don and Sharon Dixon, St. Clare of Assisi, Coquitlam
Don and Sharon Dixon are founding parishioners of St. Clare of Assisi Parish. As a member of the building committee Don was key to the construction of the church and parish centre. Sadly, he passed away this past February. Sharon has been an equally important part of the parish, serving as president of the CWL council, coordinator of parish centre rentals, foundress and coordinator of the funeral receptions committee, coordinator of the Advent tree which serves the poor, and a member of parish council. She has organized fundraising and community building events including garage sales and the parish photo album. Both Sharon and Don helped design the parish centre kitchen facilities as well as the daycare facilities and have been significant financial supporters.
Frank Esposito, St. Jude, Vancouver
Frank is a regular altar server at weekday Masses and at funerals, as well as a 4th degree member and past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus council. He is chairperson of the parish pastoral council and is a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He volunteers countless hours to the parish in building maintenance as well as various parish activities and fundraisers, and he was instrumental in recent renovations to the church.
Edward Gaines, St. Francis de Sales, Burnaby
Ed Gaines is a long-time parishioner who contributes to the parish in many ways, from singing in the choir to serving as a lector at daily Mass. A long-time member of the Knights of Columbus, he is at the core of the parish pancake breakfasts, serving at the events from early in the morning to mid-afternoon. He is responsible for organizing the parish refugee program, to which he devotes countless hours. As a result, the parish has sponsored numerous families to Canada, with Ed promoting ongoing prayers for them and for those waiting overseas.
Marlene Gonsalves, Holy Family, Sechelt
Marlene Gonsalves prepares the church for daily Mass, from opening up the building to readying the sound system, lighting candles, and preparing the Lectionary. She reverently arranges the sanctuary and gifts, then leads the Rosary before Mass. She is an inspiration and example of humility and reverence, says her nominator, who adds, “I have been blessed to watch her serve our parish like this,” recalling the words of Jesus: “Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Delia Jimenez, St. Augustine, Vancouver
Delia Jimenez’s nominator describes her as “the silent saint in our parish.” A long-time parishioner, she brings joy to the work she does for the parish and in the little things parishioners might not see. She is a dedicated worker who is always offering to take on more responsibilities and tasks in a cheerful way. As an example of her quiet service, when the parish ran the Alpha program, Delia quietly washed all the table cloths afterward without letting anyone know about it. She regularly volunteers for jobs in the parish and her kind acts often go unnoticed.
Steve de Jong, Precious Blood, Surrey
A parishioner for decades, Steve de Jong has held numerous positions, from teaching PREP, to training altar servers and working at Bingo as a caller. His diverse service includes serving as a choir leader, a lector at Mass, and a volunteer for Project Advance. He is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, has been a deputy Grand Knight with the Knights of Columbus, and has been a parent volunteer in various positions with Cloverdale Catholic School.
Doreen Junk, St. Bernadette, Surrey
Doreen Junk has been involved in numerous aspects of parish life over many years, ranging from her service as CWL president to working with the RCIA program. She is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, volunteers at the parish school, looks after the altar linens, and helps at parish fundraising events. She organizes receptions for funerals, as well as lunch and evening receptions at the parish as needed. In short, when there is a parish activity, Doreen is there.
Frank Kaweski, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Vancouver
Frank Kaweski has been contributing to parish life at Our Lady of Perpetual Help for decades, including serving as sacristan, ushering and taking up the Sunday collection, and organizing the regular Thursday coffee function. In 2016 he received a parish Jubilee Award given to honour volunteers who shared their time, talent, and treasure in outstanding ways.
Shirley Kramer, St. Pius X, North Vancouver
Shirley Kramer is a dedicated parishioner, volunteering in daily parish life as sacristan and laundering the altar linens, as well as teaching RCIA and PREP programs. She was responsible for establishing the parish’s First Friday adoration and although she has left the parish area, she still attends and coordinates the adoration schedule to ensure all hours are covered. She is a charter member of the parish CWL and volunteers her time at various activities including the twice-monthly Mass at the Kiwanis Care Centre.
Patricia LaBreche, St. Edmund, North Vancouver
Patricia LaBreche has contributed to the parish as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and faithfully taking Communion to shut-ins and the sick in hospital. She introduced the parish children’s liturgy and has helped make St. Edmund’s a more child-friendly parish. She serves as a greeter at Mass and is an active member of the CWL, which she has served as president. She also serves as parish liaison with St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary and St. Edmund’s Schools.
Dorothy Ma, St. Francis Xavier, Vancouver
Dorothy Ma has been a parishioner of St.
Francis Xavier Parish for 26 years and has been a member of the 9:30 a.m. choir the
whole time. She has also volunteered and sung at the weekly Mass at the Langara
seniors home. With her diploma in Scripture studies from Holy Spirit Seminary
College in Hong Kong, she has served as a catechist teaching RCIA. For the past
20 years, Dorothy has faithfully and continuously served as the
commentator/instructor of the SFX Cantonese Bible Study Group, which has grown
to more than 150 members who come from churches across the Lower Mainland. Throughout
the years, Dorothy has faithfully studied and prepared for classes and led the
weekly lessons despite holding a full-time job in the accounting field.
Emma Mamisao-Isaac, Holy Cross, Burnaby
Emma Mamisao-Isaac is a dedicated sacristan who prepares the church for weekend, funeral, and Friday Divine Mercy Masses. She is a lector and choir member and as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion brings the Eucharist to the homebound. She started the parish Neochatechumenal Way four years ago, organizes the annual St. Anthony of Padua parish novena in Marpole, coordinates the annual parish barbecue, and has for years looked after scheduling at the St. Anthony’s adoration chapel. She also offers her assistance to parishioners with estate planning and funeral and burial arrangements.
Tim McKinnon, St. Matthew, Surrey
Tim McKinnon welcomes people as a greeter at Mass, is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, and takes Communion to shut-ins. He has been involved in many parish groups, organizing Bible study, faith-sharing, and Discover sessions. He has taught PREP and led the Alpha program – training future parish leaders and motivating parishioners in the process. He has been a member of the Parish Education Committee for years and organized the men’s retreat for the last three years.
Maureen Morrison, St. Pius X, North Vancouver
Maureen Morrison enriches the parish in many ways, from reading at daily Mass to teaching RCIA and PREP. She is a charter member of the parish CWL and has served continuously on the executive for decades. Her passion is pro-life and she serves as the parish and CWL pro-life representative. She has also served on the North Shore pro-life board for several years and has been a regular attendee at the March for Life in Victoria.
Ron and Corinna Siy, St. Anthony of Padua, Vancouver
Ron and Corinna Siy contribute to the parish in many ways. Ron heads up the hospitality ministry with its more than 80 ushers and greeters. He attends most weekend Masses, looking after pre-Mass announcements and ensuring the church is well prepared. Corinna is a regular greeter at Mass, a lector, and also does pre-Mass announcements. Both Ron and Corinna are faith study and Alpha leaders, and they run a Connect group which they plan, coordinate, and host in their home or other members’ homes. They have worked on the parish’s Divine Renovation program and are on the senior leadership team and strategic planning council, helping the pastor with visioning and management. Ron organized a leadership summit for new, current, and potential leaders and volunteers, while Corinna has worked to recruit council members and implement the parish vision.
Magdalene Tan, Holy Name of Jesus, Vancouver
Magdalene Tan has been a choir leader and organist at Holy Name for many years, as well as helping St. John the Apostle Parish with its music ministry. She is kind and generous with her time, spending hours a week practising with both choirs. In addition, she volunteers her time to lead the seniors at Holy Name in line dancing, showing up without fail every week to instruct them. She is a generous parishioner, offering her time, talent and treasure in many ways, including as a member of the parish pastoral council.
Dianne Verzyl, St. Mary’s, Gibsons
Dianne Verzyl has been a parishioner for decades and is involved in everything from singing in the choir, where she coordinates the music, to serving as sacristan and laundering the vestments. She has chronicled parish events with parish photo albums and has been an inspiration in stewardship and fundraising. She actively participates in the CWL and for 10 years has been the parish liaison for the school lunch program, with Dianne herself providing healthy lunches for school children several times a month. For years she singlehandedly collected $1,000 a year for various parish funds until age prevented her. In recent years, she has collected donations to perform a half-marathon with her daughter for the church building fund. Dianne also sits on the parish council. “Not bad for an octogenarian!” says her nominator.
Herb Yang, All Saints, Coquitlam
Herb Yang contributes in numerous ways to parish life, from serving as a leader with school strategic planning, to men’s ministry and the parish discipleship program. He organized the Knights of Columbus to lead prayer before the Sunday Mass. He serves as lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and is a frequent emcee for events. As a past Grand Knight he is a key organizer of Knights services and spiritual activities in the parish and he has served as District Deputy, State Youth Director, State Program Director, Chairman of the State Charity appeal, and is currently State Warden of the B.C. and Yukon Knights of Columbus. He has been active in the Parent Educational Committees of both Queen of All Saints and Archbishop Carney schools and is an active supporter of Ride to Conquer Cancer. He is a member of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.
Dr. Adriana (Audrey) Zylmans, Holy Spirit, New Westminster
Dr. Zylmans is a lifetime member of Holy Spirit Parish and has been a member of the music ministry since its earliest days, each weekend leading the congregation at the Saturday anticipated Mass , the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass, and often the 11 a.m. as well. She is a founding member of the Catholic Women’s League since its conception in the parish and has served as president. Whenever there is a need, she steps in to give of her time and energy. She has shown generous financial stewardship to the parish and was the last administrator of Marian High School before its closing.
The 2018 Archdiocese of Vancouver Stewardship Awards will be presented at Mass on the Feast of Christ the King, Sunday, Nov. 25, at 2:30 p.m. at Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver. All are invited to attend.