On May 22, Cardinal George presented the Archdiocesan Catechetical and Youth Ministries Awards to six area recipients for their outstanding contributions to catechesis and youth ministry in parishes across Cook and Lake counties.
More than 100 other individuals and teams were honored by their respective parishes for their contributions to their ministries. Conducted by the Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry, this annual banquet took place at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. The archdiocesan awardees are:
Janice Seipp, St. Catherine Laboure Parish, Glenview
Janice Seipp is a certified catechist from St. Catherine Laboure Parish. She initiated a project with the students for making blankets for the residents of Maryhaven, a nursing home in Glenview. Seipp is involved in the liturgy committee and is the inclusion advisor. She directed a video produced by the students to show how to make the church more handicapped accessible and, with a monetary award from Pathways, is working with an architect to make the altar accessible for the handicapped.
Joseph Hull, Notre Dame High School for Girls, 3115 W. Mason Ave.
Joseph Hull is the campus minister for the high school and a certified catechist. He organizes the catechetical ministers among both Notre Dame High School and St. Ferdinand School. Hull guides the student peer ministries, organizes charity programs, prayer services and other religious programs and projects. He is sensitive to the cultural differences of the community and works to unite both campuses in morning communal prayer with respect and compassion for the Scripture.
Sister Anna Strycharz, MchR, St. Ferdinand Parish, 5900 W. Barry Ave.
Sister Anna serves the parish as a certified director of religious education. Sister Anna lives the mission through monthly visits to jail, a symbol of the corporal works of mercy. She has revived First Friday eucharistic adoration, increased awareness of Scripture in the religious education classes, brought a deeper understanding of the rosary and has developed an examination of conscience with the Ten Commandments.
Her intellectual competency is shown through her writings, as she is authoring bilingual Polish and English religious education texts. Sister Anna is a voice for the rights of immigrants.
Christine Ondrla, Ascension Parish, Oak Park
Christine Ondrla is a certified director of religious education. Ondrla “participates” in everything she does, she doesn’t just “attend.” She is approachable, listens well, and draws from her own well of spirituality, her tangible deep love of God and neighbor, to reach out to others.
It is important to Ondrla that the many catechists at Ascension continue to expand their knowledge of the faith and to grow spiritually. She is constantly reading theological books and articles, keeps the community up to date on how our faith sheds light on current scientific, artistic, and cultural events, and seeks out innovative ways to reach today’s people, young and old.
Sharon Allison, Sacred Heart Parish, Palos Hills
Sharon Allison is a certified catechetical leader and has served for 32 years. She values ongoing education both for herself and the catechists with whom she works. She embraces the sacraments and gives witness by her life examples.
Allison spends time with each confirmation candidate encouraging a commitment of prayer, continued study and service. The candidates call her “Coach.” She models the sacrament of reconciliation by going to confession with the students. Allison runs the religious education program as a tool to help students to learn and love their faith.
Father Richard Kozak, St. Joseph Parish, Homewood
Father Richard Kozak has been the pastor of St. Joseph in Homewood since 2002. He is very approachable, always willing to listen to others, and always puts others ahead of himself. Kozak reaches out to new parishioners and encourages them to become part of the parish. He has encouraged parish staff to take an active part in teaching and preparing those in the RCIA process. He sets the bar by being actively involved in the teaching process.
Kozak says that “Celebrating the Eucharist is the chief element of my spirituality.” He models good catechesis, good liturgy, and certainly good pastoral practice. He makes sure the parishioners and staff have the necessary tools for spiritual growth He mails CDs to each home to encourage spiritual enrichment. He is present to the parish community.