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CHICAGO, IL (May 9, 2008) – The 2008 Chicago Medallion for Excellence in Catechesis, as well as seven Archdiocesan Catechetical Ministries’ Awards and a Polish Youth Ministry Award were presented by Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, and Maria Sedano, Director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry, on May 6 at the thirteenth annual Catechetical Ministries Awards Banquet at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace.

The Chicago Medallion for Excellence in Catechesis was awarded to Dr. Pauline Viviano, associate professor of theology at Loyola University Chicago. Viviano was chosen for her dedicated and long-standing commitment to adult catechesis and faith formation with the Chicago Catholic Scripture School, diaconate and lay ministry training programs in the Archdiocese and across the country, and parish adult faith formation programs. Professor Viviano is only the eighth recipient since the Chicago Medallion’s inception in 1992.

Seven Archdiocesan Catechetical Ministries’ Award s were presented for outstanding contributions to catechesis in Catholic parishes across Cook and Lake Counties. The winners a nd their parishes are:

Pedro Avitia, Adult Evangelization Leader and Catechist
Maryville - Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, Des Plaines
Over the last three years, Avitia has served as a retreat leader and Eucharistic Minister, led Baptismal preparation, First Communion and Confirmation classes, and taught evangelization classes to adults whose children are enrolled in Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel’s religious education program.

Michael Baron, James Duff, Sandra Esposito, Barbara Knowles and Donna Urbain,
The Youth Catechesis Council
St. John of the Cross Parish, Western Springs
The council’s leadership, direction and encouragement has been a stabilizing force in the parish’s youth catechesis program for the last ten years. They practice a collaborative style that built a strong foundation of growth and led to the adoption of new technologies and curricula. Their major accomplishments include: the establishment of the Caritas, a series of events for parent formation that began with a book and religious goods fair for adults; a Formation Resource Library for teachers, catechists and adults, and the creation of a constitution and mission statement.

Anna Janicki, Catechist
Transfiguration Parish, Wauconda
Janicki, who is bilingual in English and Polish, teaches religious education in both languages and often translates her own teaching materials. To assist parents with helping their children learn about their Catholic faith, she translated a textbook regarding Holy Communion preparation into Polish. Janicki is committed to integrating the Saturday Polish school students into parish life.

Marie Seaman, Director of Religious Education
St. Linus Parish, Oak Lawn
Seaman willsoon retire from active ministry after a 35-year teaching career in Archdiocesan parishes. She has taught hundreds of catechists in seminars she has led for the Southwest Suburban Cluster of Archdiocesan parishes. She has also mentored many catechetical leaders. Seaman’s faith exemplifies a commitment to Gospel values, church tradition, the sacraments, prayer, social justice and community.

Dorota Stanek, C atechetical Coordinator
St. Hyacinth Basilica Parish, Chicago
Stanek has taught religious education classes at the parish’s Wincenty Witos Polish Saturday School for the last three years. Her faith and catechetical methodology inspires family participation in liturgies, the Stations of the Cross and recitation of the rosary. Stanek is committed to the unity of St. Hyacinth’s ethnic groups and is a very active parishioner who participates in communal prayer, pilgrimages, Archdiocesan retreat days and conferences.

Rosemary Whiteside, Catechist
Our Lady of Victory Parish, Chicago
Whiteside has been a parishioner at Our Lady of Victory for 42 years. In addition to her catechetical duties, she has been very involved in parish sporting and scouting activities, and as a lunch parent and grandparent. Whiteside and her husband Art have nine children and nine grandchildren.

Roxanne Wleklinski, Children's Liturgy of the Word Director
St. Ann Parish, Lansing
Wleklinski plays a key role in the children’s liturgy each Sunday at St Ann’s, and as a volunteer at the parish elementary school during the week. The reciprocal relationship Wleklinski has with her students, has helped instill in them a strong and nurturing Catholic faith.

A Polish Youth Ministry Award was presented to Rev. Michal Osuch, C.R., pastor of St. Hyacinth Basilica in Chicago, based on a nomination by Most Rev. Thomas Paprocki, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago for Vicariate IV. Fr. Osuch earned this special, one-time award for his work as a member of the Advisory Board to Polish Youth and for promoting and organizing the annual Polish Youth Ministry Day. Fr. Osuch, who enjoys ministering to youth of all backgrounds and nationalities, works collaboratively with the Archdiocesan Polish Youth Ministry to promote events, camps, contests and Archdiocesan vocations programs.

In recognition of contributions to religious education by individuals and teams from Archdiocesan parishes, 130 Parish Catechetical Ministries Awards were also presented at the banquet, which was attended by nearly 800 people.

The Archdiocesan Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry, which is part of the Department of Evangelization, Catechesis and Worship, is committed to applying Catholic theology to the many kinds of religious education programs and services that are available to Catholics in Cook and Lake Counties. The office promotes lifelong catechesis through the formation and certification of religious education leaders in adult faith formation, at elementary schools, in families and through youth ministry, in the vicariates, deaneries, clusters and agencies of the Archdiocese of Chicago. For more information, please visit their website,

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