ALLOUEZ — Seven men and women, recognized for living out their faith in the marketplace, were honored by Bishop David Ricken during a Mass and awards ceremony April 11 on the diocesan grounds.
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The honorees, winners of the inaugural “Faith That Works” award sponsored by The Compass, received accolades from Bishop Ricken for “shining the light of Christ in their families and in their place of work.”
The Compass invited readers and parish leadership to nominate Catholic business leaders who live out their faith in the workplace and who promote the common good. Nominees were required to: be employed in the 16-county Diocese of Green Bay; be an active parish member; and be involved in parish or spiritually-based community programs or organizations.
An independent panel of judges was appointed to review the nominations from both profit and nonprofit organizations. The winners were announced and profiled in a Compass special section April 4. The winners included:
- Ron Christensen, CEO of Woodland Village, which operates nursing homes in Suring, Gillett and Oconto. He is a member of St. Michael Parish, Suring;
- Scott Crevier, director of user support and web services for St. Norbert College in De Pere and member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in De Pere;
- Deacon Kevin DeCleene, equipment and maintenance manager at Schneider National in Green Bay and member of St. Francis and St. Mary parishes in De Pere;
- Howard Healy, senior partner at Di Renzo and Bomier Law Firm in Neenah and member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Neenah;
- Nan Pahl, director of social services at The Salvation Army of Brown County and member of St. Bernard Parish in Green Bay;
- Karean VanEss Wagner, owner of Newton Meats and member of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Newton;
- Robin Van Zeeland, owner and president of Van Zeeland Manufacturing in Little Chute and member of Holy Cross Parish, Kaukauna.
In his homily during Mass at St. Joseph Chapel, Bishop Ricken said that it was good to honor the seven winners “for the work which they do in their profession as business leaders … that enables them to connect with Christ and the church.”
“As you and I know, when you are able to work, and work for the glory of God, that’s the best of all worlds,” said Bishop Ricken. “Whether that’s in full-time ministry or bringing the good news to the work place, that’s an incredible mission and a great challenge.”
Bishop Ricken commended each Faith That Works honoree, offering quotes from profiles featured in the April 4 special section.
“For each of these people, we give thanks,” he said, “and the diocese wishes to express gratitude for these and so many others who strive to live out the Gospel and the teaching of the church in an exemplary way.”
Bishop Ricken noted that many popes have written documents about how the dignity of labor “is so closely tied to the dignity of the human person.”
“When we don’t have work, we feel like we’re not a contributing member to society or to the church,” he said. “And so labor and fair and just working conditions, bringing our ethics and morals into the professions in the world today, is an incredible witness.”
As society becomes more secularized, shining the light of Christ in the workplace will become more difficult, said Bishop Ricken.
“The new evangelization is all about counteracting that secularization … with the light of the Gospel,” he said. “Only the Gospel gives joy, hope and peace. … When we live our lives in the light of this Gospel, we treat others with respect and dignity and we try to provide for all of our lives to the very best of our ability.”
Bishop Ricken also reminded Faith That Works honorees and guests to keep their priorities in order. “God, family, work. What a wonderful order to life,” he said. “Once we have our priorities right, everything else falls into place.”
A breakfast and awards presentation followed at the St. Francis Xavier Conference Center. Compass representatives Amy Kawula and Katie Jagiello assisted Bishop Ricken in the presentation of awards.
“It is important as Catholics, to support and surround ourselves with examples of those who inspire and lead each of us to a deeper faith. This is why, I am excited to receive nominations for 2015,” said Kawula.