Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Bestow Servant Leadership Awards

On October 24 the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Danville awarded the Servant Leadership Award to 27 outstanding high school juniors and seniors from the Diocese of Harrisburg and the Diocese of Scranton. The ceremony took place at the Basilica of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Danville. Since 2003, the congregation has honored nearly 1,300 teens with the Servant Leadership Award.

The Servant Leadership Award recognizes distinguished high school juniors and seniors who are joyful witnesses, compassionate proclaimers and enthusiastic builders of the Kingdom of God. The focus of the award is on teens who remain active in their faith and parish beyond Confirmation, and who actively serve in their parish, school and community.

Receiving the award were: Theresa Amarante, Coyla Bartholomew, Kenneth Battistelli, Jonathan Bauer, John Brokenshire, Caleb Cackowski, Antonio Centenera, Emma Currie, Sam Elsen, David Friedenberg, Olivia Hinkson, Stanley G. Hodder, Shane Holcombe, Ryan Kerris, Matthew Earl Nawn, Anthony Petrick, James Redmond, Jack Riley, Robert F. Root, Isaac Joseph Roth, Julien Bernard Stellar, Ynhu Tran, Isabella Trujillo, Hailey Wickenheiser, Zaida Witkowski, Hannah Yucha, and Jacob Thomas Sebastian Zarski.

Each teen was given the opportunity to select one person as a mentor who has encouraged them to generously use their time and talents as a follower of Jesus. The mentors selected were parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, youth ministers, scout leaders, deacons, sisters and priests, who have been role models for the teens. Mentors recognized by the teens have made a difference in their lives by modeling servant leadership as a way of life in their family, parish, and community.

During the ceremony, the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius also honored four adults who received the Father Matthew Jankola Lifetime Servant Leadership Award in the ministries of evangelization, education, elder care and ecumenism.

The evangelization award was given to Sister M. Canice Adams, SS.C.M. As an educator for nearly five decades, she first inspired students, teachers, school staff, and parents when she was a teacher both in private and Catholic schools and in parish religious education programs. Later, she led Catholic schools as a principal and as South Carolina statewide superintendent.

After her decades as an educator, Sister Canice took on leadership of the St. Francis Center at St. Helena Island, S.C., as co-director. In that role, she serves a diverse population of native Sea Islanders, migrants and people displaced by domestic violence or loss of homes and jobs. The St. Francis Center provides food and clothing; oversees and provides materials for home repairs for seniors and persons with disabilities; offers tuition assistance to elementary through college students; and helps adults attain literacy.

The education award was presented to Father Ray Carey, who has served more than 50 years as a dedicated diocesan priest for the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon. He is recognized in vocation ministry as a brilliant teacher who has an extraordinary lifetime of experience devoted to teaching behavioral assessment skills regarding candidates to religious life.

Father Carey presently teaches at Mount Angel Seminary Graduate School of Theology in St. Benedict, Oregon. Since 1978 he has impacted countless lives through his workshops throughout North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. He annually teaches the three-day “Behavioral Assessment” workshop, and the two-day “Ethical Issues in Vocation and Formation Ministry” workshop at the National Religious Vocation Conference Summer Institute. The whole premise of the behavioral approach is to think in terms of “learnings and skills” rather than psychological traits or personality characteristics. Students who have benefitted from his workshops continue to apply what they have learned not only to their work with candidates to Religious Life, but to their ministries in parish life and in their own personal life.

The Elder Care award was given to Denise Toczylousky, who has served as Event/Activities Coordinator for the Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community Since 1998. Her dedication, sincerity and kindness offer a warm welcome to residents and their families at the Meadows and Nazareth Memory Center in Danville, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius.

Elder care requires patience and flexibility, an ability to think of possibilities rather than limitations, which Toczylousky has demonstrated over a lifetime as a servant leader. Toczylousky is generous in sharing her skills, especially during this time of uncertainty in the pandemic. Her generosity has widened her impact by being present with and among the staff and residents at a time with personnel shortages, family visitor limitations, and an uncertain spread of the contagious COVID virus. During this most challenging time, she continued to serve and lead with compassion, joy, and enthusiasm.

Toczylousky envisions hospitality with a wide heart to provide countless ways to celebrate and make new memories. While it would be much easier to stay safely inside by making phone calls and mailing greeting cards, she embarked on innovative ways to reach the Meadows residents from a distance, with parking lot bingos, happy hour carts, and other ways to keep connected while following safety precautions. She makes a difference in the lives of so many with her creative spirit, and her enthusiasm.

The award for ecumenism was presented to Rabbi Daniel Swartz, who has served as the spiritual leader of Temple Hesed in Wilkes Barre, Pa., since 2006. Rabbi Daniel is dedicated to the task of Tikkun Olam (repairing our world) and is very well versed in Pope Francis’ encyclical Ladato sí.

In October, Rabbi Daniel traveled to Rome as part of an international, interfaith group and met with Pope Francis. The Vatican invited only 50 people from around the world; 40 religious leaders, which included Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist and Hindu leaders and 10 scientists, to participate in a summit “Faith and Science: Towards COP26” on October 4. Rabbi Daniel and the other group members had been working since December to put together a new declaration on climate change, presented to the United Nations at their climate conference November 1-12 in Glasgow, Scotland. Rabbi Daniel was one of only a few Americans invited, and one of only two rabbis. He entered this challenge with great hope, stating, “Hope is the belief that if you work hard enough, it can get better. And that’s something faiths have carried since religion was invented—that possibility of hope. And so, we really want to preach hope to the world.”

(Photos courtesy of the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.)

From Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius

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