By David Sedeño
The Texas Catholic
Saying that they also were shepherds in their parishes, Bishop Kevin J. Farrell bestowed the Bishop’s Award for Service to the Church to about 144 people on Feb. 7 at a packed Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Dozens of other priests concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Farrell, who told those in attendance that to serve is to walk in the footsteps of Christ.
Paraphrasing from the Gospel of the day, Mark 6:30-34 in which the crowds follow Jesus and his disciples, Bishop Farrell said that many times people in the parish are like sheep without a shepherd.
“That story of the Gospel occurs almost every day in all of our parishes in this diocese,” he said. “People come to church and many times they are like sheep without the shepherd. But we must think that when Jesus uses word shepherd, he does not apply the concept just to the pastor or the priest of the parish. He implies it to each and every one of us. We are shepherds in our own particular way. And that is why you are here today, because you have been recognized as being shepherds in your own communities.”
He said that the pastors could not effectively run the parish without the support of its numerous volunteers.
“You may consider that your contribution many times is small and insignificant, but it is not,” Bishop Farrell said. “You lead the people of God to a greater understanding of his word and his mission. Each one of us is called to be the voice of God in our community. And for that, we gather in thanksgiving, to thank God for the work you do each day.”
After the homily, Bishop Farrell met each recipient at the altar and placed an engraved medal around their necks, and after Mass joined them and their families at a reception in the cathedral’s Grand Salon.
Among those honored was Juan R. Calixto, a faith formation coordinator at St. James Catholic Church. He said that it was ironic that he was receiving the award because he was initially reluctant to get involved in faith formation programs when his wife Maria asked him several years ago.
“For me, Sundays were supposed to be a time to relax, to be with family, thinking that being in church all day on Sundays would be boring,” he said. “Now we are serving as lectors, eucharistic ministers and catechesis coordinators and I can’t explain it but it is a great blessing for us and our six children because we are together,” he said. “Some of our children are also altar servers and we are working for the Lord.”
Julie Horak accompanied her mother, Patricia, a parishioner at St. Luke Catholic Church in Irving and a retired Irving public school teacher, who received the award.
“She’s been a devoted lifelong Catholic and ever since she retired from teaching, she has devoted herself to St. Luke, to the school, the parish, working with the teachers and parents,” Horak said. “We grew up with strong Catholic values, praying the rosary in the evenings.”
Her mother said that she represented countless other volunteers at St. Luke.
Award recipient Michael Moloughney, who serves as a youth minister, Eucharistic minister, and lector at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Duncanville, said that he learned about service through his parents who were missionaries.
“We’ve always grown up doing things for other people and I try to pass that down to my four children and we do pro-life events and help feed the homeless,” said Moloughney, whose wife also is involved in faith formation in the parish. “These are service things that were instilled in me by my parents.”
Calixto of St. James Catholic Church said that there are more than 1,400 children involved in the faith formation program at the church. At some point, he said, he quit thinking about the number and focused on the mission of helping them get closer to Christ. And it also has helped his family.
“My wife and I talk about it all the time and we can’t explain why we don’t feel overwhelmed,” he said. “We said ‘yes’ to serve God and he is the one who gives us time to not only be with him, but to be with our family, to be in church, to be at our jobs. And it all works very well, but we can’t explain how it is so calm and not a crazy life. It has been a great blessing.”