Catholic Charities Faith in Action Celebration Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
cc awards
Catholic Charities award recipients pictured with Bishop Robert C. Morlino (center) and Jackson Fonder (second from right), president and CEO of Catholic Charities, are, from left: Leadership Award winners Col. John F.  “Jack” Rogan, Thomas Parslow, and Daniel J. Fitzpatrick; Faith in Action Award winner Stan Kitson; and Michael C. Morey, event co-chair. Missing for the picture was Leadership Award winner John Van Wie. (Photo by Michael Mowbray of Beautiful Portraits by Michael)

MIDDLETON -- Catholic Charities (CC) in the Diocese of Madison held its 22nd annual Faith in Action Celebration on November 9 at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton.

“This annual event touches my heart,” said Toni Prestigiacomo, Catholic Charities Board chair and co-chair of the event, in welcoming the guests. “This event is a reminder of why we choose to support Catholic Charities. It truly makes me proud.”

Putting faith in action

Prestigiacomo said, “This is a celebration of putting our faith in action.”

She pointed to the recent opening of The Beacon, the homeless day resource center operated by Catholic Charities in downtown Madison, as well as many other programs, such as those helping children and families.

“By attending this event, you help the people we serve,” she said.

Bishop Robert C. Morlino greeted those attending, saying, “I see so many generous hearts. I’m so grateful for your generosity.”

He also mentioned the opening of The Beacon, saying, “We want to let the light of Christ shine forth to help those in need.”

‘A night of inspiration’

Jackson Fonder, presi-dent/CEO of Catholic Charities, began the program portion of the evening by saying, “I love this event. It’s a night of inspiration. You are about to hear about community leaders, youth who are already role models, participants in our programs, and our dedicated volunteers.”

Fonder also thanked priests, Sisters, and deacons present; past award recipients; Catholic Charities Board members; Prestigiacomo and Michael Morey, event co-chairs; organizations and sponsors; the Edgewood High School Band and students who staffed the coat check; and St. Ambrose Academy who served as greeters. Fonder also introduced Brian Cain, former Catholic Charities director.

Fonder also thanked the almost 400 Catholic Charities staff members, who “change lives and make a difference.” He mentioned some of the staff members by name, including Bill Stevenson, chief administration officer for 14 years, who will be retiring in spring of 2018.

President’s Awards

Fonder presented the President’s Awards to three clients and two volunteers. The client awards recognize success stories of Catholic Charities’ clients to acknowledge the accomplishments of those who receive their services. The recipients’ stories were shared in video segments. The honorees included:

• Doug Schroeder, a client in the Supportive Living Program, which provides individualized support that enables clients to live as independently as possible in the community.

When Schroeder joined the program in 2008, he was introverted and asocial. With the help of the program, he moved to a new house with two new housemates. He has grown in independence and has become more social.

“Doug is really enjoying his life of retirement, and we are so proud of him for all of the accomplishments he has achieved through hard work and perseverance,” said a Supportive Living Program staff member.

• Priscilla Starrine, a client in the Community Living Program. This program provides individualized support that enables clients to live as independently as possible in the community.

Starrine has been with the program since 2002. When she started with the program, she was already working at a local sheltered workshop five days per week. Last year, she reduced her work to four days per week, and the fifth day she volunteers at Little Orphans, a local cat shelter.

• Bev Thom and Barb Kepler, volunteers with Bethel Homeless Support Services and The Beacon in Madison. They offer time in their retirement to help those who are homeless two days a week.

“Their commitment and love for the homeless brothers and sisters who enter Bethel daily is exemplary,” said their nominator.

In addition, they provided a “learning lab” at Bethel leading into work at The Beacon, Catholic Charities’ new homeless day resource center.

• Lenora “Lee” Weber, a client at the Adult Day Center in Madison. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/dementia in 2012 at the age of 78.

She and her husband, Wally, moved to McFarland 16 years ago to be closer to their two daughters and grandchildren; they all live on the same street.

Lee attends the Adult Day Center five days a week; it provides structure, routine, activities, socialization, and respite for the family. Her daughter Cheryl said, “It feels like the Adult Day Center team has embraced not only my mom, but the entire family. She would be placed in a memory care facility if not for the Adult Day Center.”

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 $2,000 scholarship.

Christie Seibert, Catholic Charities Board vice chair, presented the awards to:

• Anastasie Ndahayo, who attends Edgewood High School and is a member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Madison. In her parish, she has been involved in a mission trip to the Crow Reservation, serves Mass, is a minister of Communion, and is involved in the Mass band. She has been active at Edgewood High School and in community service.

In her essay, she said, “The only way for flaws like racism and world hunger to change is through faith. To achieve faith, we need all social classes to come together and grow into the image and likeness of God.”

• Maxton Wirtz, who attends Oregon High School and is a member of Holy Mother of Consolation Parish in Oregon. Among school, parish, diocesan, and community activities, he is a planning group member for Frassati Fest, an altar server, a minister of hospitality, Camp Gray staff member, member of Knights of Columbus, shoveling snow for the elderly, Luke House server, Catholic Multicultural Center volunteer, Catholic Youth Organization basketball, Christmas Orchestra, and Shine Youth Group.

In his essay, he said, “I have been, and continue to be, consistently involved in my parish, diocese, and community volunteer opportunities. Volunteering allows me to make a difference in my community and to literally put my faith in action.”

Faith in Action Award

Prestigiacomo presented the Faith in Action Award to Stan Kitson. This award recognizes past Catholic Charities Board members for their outstanding commitment and contribution of time, talent, and treasure.

A member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Madison, Kitson served on the Catholic Charities Board from 2002 to 2008, serving as president in 2006. He and his wife, Robyn, have owned Kitson Marketing, Inc./KMI Research since 1987.

Since 2007, he has assisted Catholic Charities staff in marketing and other areas, helping wherever there is a need.

In accepting the award, Kitson thanked his parents, Jeanne Ann and Raymond Kitson, for being “great role models.”

He especially called attention to Hope Haven, a Catholic Charities program where people go for substance abuse treatment.

His experience with Hope Haven has shown that people who come there have lost spouses, relationships, jobs, businesses, and “a lot of them have lost faith in themselves,” said Kitson. “The staff at Hope Haven are the only people who have faith in them.”

When he asked Hope Haven clients what made the difference in their recovery, they said, “It was the staff. They were able to connect with me. They understood me. The staff at Hope Haven are something God put there to help them to discover their potential.”

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 Michael Morey presented the awards. This year, the honorees were:

• Daniel J. Fitzpatrick, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Baraboo. He was nominated by his pastor, Fr. Jay Poster. Although Fitzpatrick has served as director of operations at St. Joseph Parish since 2008, he was honored for the service he does beyond his position at the parish.

He has been president of the St. Joseph School Home and School Board, a volunteer hot lunch co-director, Eucharistic minister, and sacristan. He has been involved in the Haiti Medical Mission of Wisconsin and has been a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council since 2014.

His wife of 21 years, Jennifer Fitzpatrick, said of her husband, “Dan has worked to increase enrollment at St. Joseph School, begun an annual fund that benefits the parish (including a new playground and parish hall), and added a daycare and middle school. Dan also works to help other parishes and the diocese with many projects, including school enrollment, employee handbooks, stewardship advice, and technology needs.”

• Thomas Parslow, a member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Madison who is active in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and president of the Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens. He was nominated by a previous award winner, Emmett Schulte.

It was Schulte who asked Parslow to volunteer with the Lacy Garden Project and become a garden leader. “It was not long before I learned the garden leader’s job was working with people, volunteers of all ages,” said Parslow. “What a great experience it continues to be! Not only do I grow plants, but I teach, work with, and help people while feeding the needy.”

• Col. John F. “Jack” Rogan, a member of St. Bernard Parish in Middleton who has been active for many years in Church and community activities. A retired U.S. Army officer, he moved to Middleton in 1970 and has been active at St. Bernard for 47 years.

He served the Diocese of Madison for over 38 years as a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, Corporate Board, Seminary Advisory Board, and St. Raphael Society Board. He is a founding member of the Leadership Council of Relevant Radio.

• John Van Wie, a member of St. Cecilia Parish in Wisconsin Dells. He was nominated by previous award winner Mary Uhler, who said, “John has made and continues to make a difference in the lives of so many people in his community, his parish, and in the state. He exemplifies Catholic values of compassion and respect for all persons.”

Van Wie has been a religious education teacher and usher at his parish and was chairman and co-chairman of development for the building of the new St. Cecilia Church. He is also a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, member of the Knights of Columbus, chairman of the Board of Easter Seals in Wisconsin, and active in local, state, and national veterans organizations.

Van Wie was not able to attend the Catholic Charities dinner because of the death of his brother. Fr. Eric Sternberg, pastor of St. Cecilia Parish, accepted the award on his behalf.

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

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