Each year, for the past nine years, the Diocese of Belleville, through The Messenger, recognizes individuals who take their faith out of the pews and into the marketplaces where they work with and for others. This year was no exception.
This year, those recognized take their faith into the lives of their clients and customers who will reap the rewards of their labors, into the clinics and hospitals with those who speak no English, into the courtroom to champion the defendant and give an opportunity for representation or out into the fields to feed a family, a neighbor and the world.
Recipients at the Sept. 19 dinner at St. Nicholas Parish Center in O’Fallon were: Mark Cowell of St. John the Baptist in Red Bud, Terry Green of St. John the Baptist in West Frankfort, Bruce Holland of St. Nicholas in O’Fallon, Yolanda Mumford and Larry Pfeffer, both of St. George in New Baden and Wayne Weber of Holy Cross in Wendelin.
Each person recognized spoke gratefully and humbly about receiving the honor. Every one of them thanked their families, with Yolanda Mumford giving advice to her children as she spoke: “Doing something for others gives you joy,” she said. “You need to remember that.”
In his remarks, Terry Green reminded the dinner guests: “God doesn’t choose the qualified; God qualifies the chosen.”
Mark Cowell spoke of his wife, Vicky as his partner and his friend.
Bruce Holland described his wife, Gloria as his best friend and someone who “keeps me in line.”
Larry Pfeffer also paid homage to his wife, Carol much the same as those who spoke before him.
Wayne Weber described his wife, Ellen as giving not 100 percent but 110 percent to their relationship and their family of eight children.
Each person received a ceramic bowl that was created by potter, Dave Woesthaus of Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville. Each is the same yet different, crafted as a unique and beautiful symbol of the people who received them.
Because he was unable to attend the dinner because of a prior commitment, Bishop Braxton sent the recipients a letter. Following is the content of that letter:
Dear Mark, Terry, Bruce, Yolanda, Larry, and Wayne,
As you spend this evening in prayer and celebration, recognizing the unique ways each of you has integrated your Catholic faith into your work, I regret that I cannot be there to personally congratulate each of you.
In today’s world, it takes great courage to openly profess your faith in a secular environment. Each of you has been successful because your business, your profession, your life have been anchored firmly in faith in your very formative years. From these very basic beginnings in faith formation, you have grown into mature men and women of character and integrity, achieving success in commercial business, representing people fairly according to the law and in the courts, providing quality construction and employment, showing compassion to those in need, and feeding families, communities, and the world. It is because of your deep-rooted faith that you treat people with utmost respect, compassion, and fairness.
I congratulate each of you for learning your faith, loving your faith, and living your faith.
May God continue to bless you in your individual walks of life.
Appreciatively yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. Edward K. Braxton