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Archives Youth, Father LaBaff honored at Caritas Dinner

Nov. 13, 2019


By Jessica Hargrave
Contributing writer

OGDENSBURG – Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Ogdensburg proudly honored those who provide help and create hope for people in need at its annual Caritas Dinner, held at the Gran View Restaurant on Nov. 6.
Each year, Bishop Terry R. LaValley and the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees present awards to individuals or groups who have assisted the organization in serving those affected by poverty throughout the diocese.

Master of ceremonies, Deacon James Crowley, chancellor of the diocese, began the evening by welcoming the attendees, which included staff from Catholic Charities and the diocese, clergy, trustees, and the award recipients and their families. He then introduced Sister Ellen Rose Coughlin who delivered the dinner invocation.

Deacon Patrick Donahue, Catholic Charities’ executive director, recognized six staff members for their long-term commitment and dedication to the organization. Claudine Dailey of the Plattsburgh Catholic Charities Office, Deb Dority and Carol Whitcombe of Seaway Catholic Charities, Joelle Lamica of the Malone Catholic Charities Office, and Melissa Howard and Vivian Smith of the Tupper Lake Catholic Charities Office received longevity and outstanding service awards.

Gayle Frank, former diocesan Youth Ministry director, and current Youth Ministry Director Tom Semeraro presented The Legacy Award, a special distinction reserved for youth and young adults, to six members of the Diocesan Youth Council. Alexandra Pinkerton of Ogdensburg, Ciara Leroy of Malone, Konrad Wojcikowski of Carthage, Therese Buskey of Natural Bridge, Maureen Pierce and Meaghan Pierce of Heuvelton were honored.
Upon receiving the award, Konrad Wojcikowski, spoke on behave of the youth honorees and the Youth Council.

“We do our best to work together,” he said. “We haven’t done anything expecting an award. We are just trying to make the lives of everyone in our parish better and just trying to grow our own faith so we can help others.”
Deacon Patrick Donahue presented Father Arthur J. LaBaff with the Caritas Award. Deacon Donahue described Father LaBaff as having “the heart of a great servant leader.”

During his 53 years as a priest, Father LaBaff has served on the Catholic Charities Board of Directors and the Corporation Board for Catholic Charities, is co-founder of summer camp at Camp Guggenheim, and served on many Formation for Ministry boards.

After receiving the distinguished Caritas Award, Father LaBaff called the award a group effort.

“No one person can do anything,” he said. “When all of us come together, we are the Church, we do what we are supposed to do and build up the Church of Jesus Christ here in the North Country.”

Bishop Terry R. LaValley made closing comments saying he is very proud of the recipients and recognized the outstanding work by Catholic Charities.

“I’m so proud of our parishes social outreach ministries, and on a broader scale our Catholic Charities has been at the forefront of responding to the needs of our sisters and brothers of the North Country who are hurting and often are too proud to ask for assistance,” Bishop LaValley said. “We have a terrific staff and leadership at Catholic Charities and for that I am so grateful.”

The Caritas Award was established by the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Ogdensburg in 1979. All funds raised from the Caritas Dinner will be used to provide counseling and financial assistance to individuals and families in critical need.

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