By Seth Gonzales
The Texas Catholic
After nearly 40 years as a parishioner at Holy Cross Catholic Church, one would be hard pressed to find a ministry in which Kate Gary hasn’t participated. But it’s the parish’s grief ministry where you might find her most of the time.
“I’ve had a lot of losses in my life, so I know how difficult it is when you lose a loved one, so I guess that’s my way of giving back and giving comfort to people,” said Gary, who was one of 160 receiving the Bishop’s Award for Service to the Church during a Mass on Jan. 30 at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. “It gives me comfort to see other people comforted.”
Gary’s son was only 27 when he was killed in an accident in Boston. Her daughter later died of lung cancer in 2010.
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell presided over the Mass and expressed gratitude that so many have given their time and talents to the church. He said he is often asked by community and business leaders how the church is able to function, given the growing Catholic population and the relatively few priests that are available to them.
“It functions thanks to people like you,” Bishop Farrell said. “So many people who teach the Word of God, not only in catechism classes, but help in marriage programs and so many different ministries; so many people who bring and carry forward the Word of God.”
Bishop Farrell encouraged the award recipients to always remember why they do the work they are doing, and to generously dispense the mercy of God to those they encounter.
Recalling the story of God forgiving King David’s sin of adultery, Bishop Farrell implored all those in attendance to ask for, then in return give the mercy of God.
“There is nothing that we can do in this world amid all the atrocities, all the misery of the world that we know, there is nothing God won’t forgive if we open our hearts and we are willing to forgive and do penance,” Bishop Farrell said. “It is that spirit of God that I ask you all to have; you who are experts in providing service in all of our parishes, remember you must give witness to the mercy and love of God.”
For Leobardo León, that mercy should extend to everyone, in any state of life. León and his family are parishioners at St. Monica Catholic Church and are heavily involved in ministries touching nearly every age in the Hispanic community. León said the reason for his participation is simple: God is asking this of him.
“It’s what He wants us to do,” León said. “It’s a real blessing to have this award, but, more importantly, God has called us to serve his church.”
Pick up a Feb. 5 print edition of The Texas Catholic for a complete listing of the Bishop’s Award for Service to the Church award winners.