Youth leaders receive awards
Annual celebration honors integrity and faithful service
The Diocese of Pittsburgh honored 29 young people for witnessing their "courageous and faith-filled witness" at the St. Timothy Awards celebration May 7 in the Bishop McDowell Auditorium at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton.
Sponsored by the Secretariat for Catholic Education and the Department for Youth and Young Adult Ministry, the awards recognize four young people in each of the four vicariates, one student in each of the 11 Catholic high schools and two others for extraordinary work in the diocese.
The awards honor those who exemplify moral integrity, prayer, good works and Christian leadership.
"You've made a difference in the lives of many, many people across our six counties," said Father Kris Stubna, secretary for Catholic education.
The young people recognized by vicariates were:
Vicariate 1 -- Shannon Evans, Incarnation of the Lord, Pittsburgh's North Side; Joseph Fennimore, St. Lawrence O'Toole, Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood; Nathan King, Resurrection, Pittsburgh's Brookline neighborhood; and Anne Kisak, St. Sebastian, Ross Township.
Vicariate 2 -- Teresa Borelli, Holy Angels, Pittsburgh's Hays neighborhood; Robert Cronkhite, St. Clare of Assisi, Clairton; John "Jake" Grefenstette, St. Bernard, Mount Lebanon; and Krista Sudyk, St. Robert Bellarmine, East McKeesport.
Vicariate 3 -- Ross Bovalino, SS. Peter and Paul, Beaver; Deborah Heyl, St. Columbkille, Imperial; Michael Illig, St. Patrick, Canonsburg; and Matthew Pulleo, Christ the Divine Teacher, Chippewa Township.
Vicariate 4 -- Christina Calandra, St. Irenaeus, Oakmont; Heather Fitzgerald, St. Alphonsus, Springdale Borough; Madison Moro, Transfiguration, Russelton; and Phil Varvaro, St. Juan Diego, Sharpsburg.
Representing the high schools were: Bishop Canevin -- Kimberly Lois Aland, St. Rosalia, Pittsburgh's Greenfield neighborhood; Central Catholic -- Vincent Balestrino, St. Mary of the Assumption, Glenshaw; Vincentian Academy -- Megan Ballantyne, St. Alphonsus, Wexford; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart -- Mary Kate Gallagher, Holy Innocents, Pittsburgh's Sheraden neighborhood; Seton-LaSalle -- Connor Hayes, St. Anne, Castle Shannon; and Serra Catholic -- Nicholas Hudak, Our Lady of the Valley, Donora.
Also honored by high school were: Aquinas Academy -- Aubrey Miller, St. Richard, Richland Township; North Catholic -- Brian Miller, St. Cyril of Alexandria, Pittsburgh's Brighton Heights neighborhood; Oakland Catholic -- Andie Seabrooke, St. Kilian, Adams/Cranberry townships; Quigley Catholic -- Aimee Spencer, St. Ferdinand, Cranberry Township; and St. Joseph -- Frances Anne Tosto, Holy Sepulcher, Glade Mills.
Representing the Department for Youth and Young Adult Ministry were Ryan Kushner of Mary, Mother of Hope, New Castle, and Amy Mitch of St. Wendelin in Carbon Center.
In noting that the ceremony took place in a hall named after the late auxiliary bishop, Bishop David Zubik spoke of Bishop McDowell's great love for Jesus, the church and young people. The bishop's role as superintendent of schools, Bishop Zubik noted, was more than just a job, it was a chance to bring Jesus to them.
And just as St. Timothy and Bishop McDowell realized the importance of following Jesus, the young people must do the same.
"You are truly inspiring people by your words and deeds," Bishop Zubik said.
The bishop told the young people that they must exhibit the selfless sacrifice of Jesus to a world that often ignores him and paints those who follow him as fools.
But the cross is made real, he said, because of their deeds that spread the love of Christ.
"Thank you for being the face, hands and heart of Jesus," Bishop Zubik said.
The gathering included a reflection by Sean Berger, a 2011 St. Timothy Award recipient. Berger, a theology major at Wheeling Jesuit University, spoke of how the award impacted his life. He described his "roller-coaster" faith journey and how he has found God to be his best friend, who always stands next to him and is a real presence in his life.
He told the award winners that each one of them inspires others by their amazing deeds, and he asked them to stay true to themselves and their faith.
"Our generation will change the world in a way never seen before," he said.
Joyce Gillooly, director of the Department for Youth and Young Adult Ministry, presented Father Stubna with the "Companion on the Journey" Award. Father Stubna was recently named rector of St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood.