In a gesture of recognition for their integrity and generosity in service to the Church and the community, the Diocese of Harrisburg each year bestows the Lorica Award on men and women who share their God-given talents for the benefit of others.
Bishop Ronald Gainer bestowed this year’s awards during a special Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg on March 16, the eve of the feast of the patron saint of the Diocese.
The 2023 Lorica Award recipients are:
- Melissa Batula of Our Lady of Fatima Mission in Jonestown, for her dedication to teaching in the parish’s religious education program and training and scheduling the parish’s altar servers.
- Maureen Heberle of St. Matthew Parish in Dauphin, who teaches in the parish’s RCIA program and serves as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, altar server trainer and substitute teacher in the religious education program.
- Andrew Matragrano of St. Joseph Parish in Danville, a lector and member of the RCIA team, a participant in the parish’s mission to Jamaica, the parish’s disability advocate and facilitator of its mental health support group, and a leader in the parish’s ChristLife evangelization and discipleship program.
- Eileen Pannell of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Lewisburg, for her works of charity in coordinating the “Caring Community,” which is responsible for the charitable works of the parish, and for her work with the homebound ministry, hospital visitation and ecumenical outreach.
- Jeff Pautz of St. Patrick Parish in York, for his dedication as chair of the finance committee and member of the Board of Education for Holy Trinity School; and as a member of the parish’s pastoral council and choir, and leadership in Knights of Columbus activities.
- Robert Quinlivan of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in New Holland, for his service as a member of the Knights of Columbus, parish council, recycling ministry, buildings and grounds committee, and kitchen ministry.
- Patricia Reichart of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in New Oxford, who has served as a kitchen supervisor and lector at the Paradise School, as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, lector and religious education teacher in her parish.
- Patricia Renaut of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Abbottstown, who faithfully serves as a lector and on the parish council, assists with the livestreaming of weekly Masses, and leads the Rosary at an assisted-living facility.
- Patricia Wondoloski of Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Elysburg, a parish volunteer who gives of her service every day, and who contributes her time and talents as a cantor, choir member and Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Eucharist.
- William Woodward of St. Theresa Parish in New Cumberland, who coordinates the parish’s Sister Parish ministry to St. Jude’s in Kentucky, and who volunteers as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, lector, sacristan, and with the Knights of Columbus and the Blue Knights Boys Club and Little Flower Girls Club.
The Lorica Award is given annually by the Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg to individuals who have contributed significantly to the life of the local Church and exemplified the Catholic Christian way of life. Named after the renowned prayer attributed to St. Patrick, the recipients demonstrate that they have “bound to their heart” the strength of the Triune God through integrity of faith and generosity in service, so that it might truly be said of them, “Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.”
During the Mass celebrating the Solemnity of St. Patrick with the Conferral of the Lorica Awards, Bishop Ronald Gainer spoke of the integrity of faith and generosity of service of the Lorica Award recipients.
“St. Patrick was open to God’s grace throughout his life, and he gave generous cooperation to that grace,” the bishop said.
“To the Lorica Award winners, I thank you so much for exemplifying the kind of service, the generosity, the humility and creativity that God asks of all of us,” Bishop Gainer said. “We pray as we celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick that we’ll be inspired, that his generosity will inspire all of us to put our time and talent and good actions more fully into the Lord’s service and in the service of others.”
Any practicing Catholic who is registered at one of the parishes or missions within the Diocese of Harrisburg, or is serving in one of the apostolates of a community of consecrated men or women in the Diocese, may be nominated for the award by their pastor or superior.
While this year’s recipients may differ in the ways in which they serve the Church, their commonality can be found in their echoes of why they are so generous with their time and talents.
“Service is just part of who I am” was a common response from Lorica recipients who spoke with The Witness.
“It’s just something that’s always been a part of me,” said Jeff Pautz, of St. Patrick Parish in York. “I was reflecting on why I serve, and it goes back, even back to when I was young and in Scouting, where service is so valued, and then learning the importance of service instilled in me as a student at Lebanon Catholic. It just became part of who I am. When I see there’s a need, I know where I can help fill it, and I just step in and do it.”
“I was completely surprised,” Pautz said of receiving the Lorica Award this year. “I did not expect it at all…. It’s just such an honor to even be nominated and considered. I’m very humbled.”
Patricia Wondoloski, longtime volunteer at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Elysburg, said, “It’s wonderful that the Diocese is recognizing people for their efforts, and hopefully it will encourage others to consider ways that they can serve their parish and the Church.”
The value of service was instilled in Wondoloski from a young age; she grew up in a family that was very active in volunteer efforts, and remembers helping the religious Sisters at their convent when she was a child.
“Serving is just part of my life,” she said. “I am honored and I am touched by the award, but I’m not the type of person who likes to be in the limelight for doing what I do. I truly appreciate being nominated and ultimately chosen, but recognition for service is not something I seek out. Serving is just something I do.”
For Dr. Andrew Matragrano of St. Joseph Parish in Danville, the desire to serve comes from the understanding of his baptismal call.
“As I came to realize what my Baptism meant, I realized over a period of reflection that service to the Body of Christ, to the world and to the community at large is part of the call to be Christian,” he remarked. “It’s part of the whole understanding that I’ve been given a lot, I had a chance for an education and an ability to profit from that education, so I want to give back. Whenever a need came along, I jumped in whenever I could.”
Dr. Matragrano expressed his hope that the witness of the Lorica Award recipients inspires others to service in the Church.
“I never look for accolades when I volunteer. When you look for recognition, it gets in the way of serving, so it’s never been a motive for me….The glory is to go to God, because He has given us everything we have,” he said.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness