Catholic Charity Awards highlights people and programs Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

catholic charity awards
Catholic Charities award recipients pictured with Bishop Robert C. Morlino (center) and Jackson Fonder (far left), president and CEO of Catholic Charities, are, from left: Leadership Award winners Sr. Kathleen Loughrin, OP, Margaret “Peg” Koch, and Delores “Dee” Woolf; St. Raphael Lifetime Achievement Award winner Gerry Ring; and Leadership Award winner Ernie Stetenfeld. (Photo by Michael Mowbray of Beautiful Portraits by Michael)

MIDDLETON -- For the past 70 years, Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Madison has put faith in action through its many programs.

At the annual Catholic Charities Faith in Action Celebration held on November 9, President/CEO Jackson Fonder emphasized that it is people who make those programs possible, including staff, clients, and volunteers.

Fonder’s remarks were made at the 21st annual awards dinner held at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton. This year’s dinner drew a record number of about 600 attendees.

Recognizing staff, accomplishments

Fonder said it is “dedicated employees who make this engine run.” He asked five Catholic Charities’ employees to stand and be recognized:

• Sue Fallon, the agency’s accounting manager for 12 years.

• Mike Alioto, a support broker for 12 years. (Support brokers coordinate services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities.)

• Nichole Kraemer, support specialist at the Adult Day Center, Madison, for three years.

• Derrick Smith, director of strategic planning and special projects, for five months.

• Judy Metzger, recently hired to direct the new Homeless Day Resource Center.

Fonder said this year has been very busy with the expansion of the All Saints Neighborhood, which can serve more persons in assisted living and memory care. The neighborhood now serves 350 seniors on its Madison campus.

He also noted the purchase of a new building to house the Adult Day Center, which will increase the capacity to serve from 55 to 100 persons.

And perhaps the largest project to date is the new partnership with Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison to work with a winter shelter and next summer, to run the new Homeless Day Resource Center in downtown Madison.

“We are making a difference in our community,” said Fonder. “All of you have helped make that possible.”

Bishop praises work

Catholic Charities Board Chair Tom Merfeld welcomed everyone to the dinner and introduced Bishop Robert C. Morlino, who gave the invocation.

The bishop praised the work of Catholic Charities in the diocese, especially during this Year of Mercy. He said the diocese has been blessed with bequests and is starting a new Saint Mother Teresa Mercy Endowment Fund, which will help support Works of Mercy in the diocese, including the new Homeless Day Resource Center.

“I couldn’t be more happy and more proud,” said the bishop. “I hope many of you will make a contribution to this fund.”

Bishop Morlino said, “Through Catholic Charities, the Lord has given us many blessings. I express my joy, pride, and gratitude for the work that is being done in Jesus’ name.”

Following dinner, awards were presented to key leaders, youth, clients, and volunteers.

St. Raphael Lifetime Achievement Award

Fonder presented the St. Raphael Lifetime Achievement Award to Gerry Ring, a member of St. Peter Parish in Madison. This award is given to a faithful Catholic who has served the local Church and community with distinction over a long period of time.

Fonder noted that Ring served for nine years on the Catholic Charities Board and 12 years on the All Saints Neighborhood Board.

“He is a role model for community service,” said Fonder. “He truly lives this award through his actions.”

Ring said, “I’m deeply honored and humbled by this award. I seem to be in the right place at the right time or meet the right person. I firmly believe that the hand of God has been on my shoulder.”

He said he is proud of the All Saints Neighborhood and “how happy people are” there. He said he would like to see a skilled nursing facility added to the neighborhood.

Leadership Awards

The Catholic Charities Leadership Award honors area Catholics who consistently incorporate Catholic values in their leadership and enrich the lives of many.

CC Board Member and Event Co-Chair Toni Prestigiacomo presented the awards.

This year, the honorees were:

Margaret “Peg” Koch, a member of St. Ann Parish in Stoughton. She has been involved in many church and community activities, including coordinating and preparing meals for the annual parish senior brunch and meals for the Catholic Multicultural Center in Madison. Each year she assists students in baking Christmas cookies to be delivered to parish shut-ins.

A convert to the Catholic faith in 1967, she accepted the award for herself and her husband of 48 years, Robert, saying, “I could not have done it without him.” She noted. “At the end of each Mass, we’re called to go forth and carry out mission of love, healing, and justice to the world.”

Sr. Kathleen Loughrin, OP, a Sinsinawa Dominican Sister for 55 years. She served as a teacher for three years and as principal for 23 years at St. James School in Madison. Previously she served at Blessed Sacrament School in Madison, Sacred Heart School in Reedsburg, and St. John Vianney School in Janesville.

In her life, she said she followed the advice to “find something you love to do and do it every day.” She said that “teaching is a gift. We teach who we are. Our influence will last forever.” She praised St. James School for its diverse community and strong religious faith.

Ernie Stetenfeld, a member of Christ the King Parish in McFarland and a leader in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, District Council of Madison. Among other church and community activities, he coordinates a Luke House group at his parish and served for six years on the Diocesan Pastoral Council and on his parish Pastoral Council.

In accepting the award, he noted, “In college, I took a course on sainthood and did a paper on the founder of the Society of St, Vincent de Paul. Later it was published. This disposed me to join and work for the society. We strive to see the face of Christ in those we serve.”

Delores “Dee” Woolf, a member of St. Mary Parish in Platteville. She taught at St. Mary School from 1971 until it closed in 2012. She is active in the parish and many community organizations, including the St. Mary Council of Catholic Women, the Platteville American Legion Auxiliary, and the Cub Scouts.

As the oldest of 11 children, she said she was encouraged to give to her community and help others to use their God-given talents.

Scholarship Awards

The annual youth scholarship award pays tribute to Mary Jeanne Kennedy Anderson in recognition of her devotion and service to children in schools and honor her life guided by Catholic faith. Students who are nominated write an essay discussing the ways they live out their faith in parish, school, and community service. The winners receive a $1,000 scholarship.

Event Co-Chair Michael C. Morey presented the awards to:

Conor Schlichting, who attends Madison East High School and is a member of St. Peter Parish in Madison. In his parish, he has participated in the “blanket ministry” with other students making fleece blankets to give to those in need and has volunteered on mission trips and other parish events.

In his essay, he said, “My Catholic faith has influenced how I live my life as a young Christian in today’s society. I pride myself in my ability to put my faith in action in my community. By volunteering 300 hours with my church in the last three years, I have learned how to apply my faith in everyday situations.”

Samantha Worden, who attends Middleton High School and is a member of St. Bernard Parish in Middleton. Among school, parish, and community activities, she is a St. Vincent de Paul Youth Service Council board member, Relay for Life board member, has participated in mission trips in Central America and through Love Begins Here, and tutors students in math and science.

In her essay, she said, “I have always had a passion to help others, and seeing others in poverty saddens my heart and mind. Over the past three summers, I have attended Love Begins Here, LBH, which are local weeklong mission trips. During these weeks, I have felt a deepened connection with the Lord and the people around me. I have learned that doing little things with great love will spread the contagious joy of Christ to everyone around you.”

President’s Awards

Fonder presented the President’s Awards to recognize success stories of Catholic Charities clients to acknowledge the accomplishments of those who receive Catholic Charities’ services. He also recognized a Catholic Charities volunteer.

The recipients’ stories were shared in video segments. The honorees included:

Nathan Richards, who is a client in the Community Connections program which provides care for adult residents of Rock County with a developmental disability. Amy Tiffany nominated Richards for the award. She said it took several months for him to adjust, but two years later, “Nathan is a great part of the Community Connections family. Each day he arrives at Community Connections, his big beautiful smile always reminds us all of how lucky we are to be able to work with him.”

Delores Robertson, a client at the Adult Day Center in Madison. She was nominated for the award by Nichole Kraemer of the center. Robertson moved to Madison some years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/dementia. She and her daughter Roslyn were referred to the Adult Day Center, which Robertson attends Monday through Friday. Her daughter is able to work part-time and receive caregiver respite. “The Day Center is wonderful,” she said. “I know I couldn’t do it without them.” Her mother spends her days engaged in sports, music, singing, bingo, baking, crafts, and exercise. She especially likes the Music and Memory Program at the center.

Connor Sankbeil, a client in the Youth Living Alternatives (YLA) program, which provides alternative foster care so participants can live in a supportive, structured, non-traditional family setting. Sankbeil was nominated by YLA staff member Jacob Russell, who has worked with him since March of 2015. Russell said Sankbeil has made much progress. “I believe that Connor deserves to be recognized for overcoming so many obstacles in his life and to show the amazing work that Catholic Charities is doing through our YLA program.”

Stephanie Smith, a volunteer with Hope Haven in Madison, coordinating a local team of pet therapists who bring their own dogs to visit clients. She was nominated by Fran Augustine, who said, “Our volunteer pet therapists and their dogs provide a sense of compassion, companionship, and comfort in times when clients need it most.”

To learn more about Catholic Charities’ programs and services, or to donate securely online, visit

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