BY WKC STAFF
This year, the Bishop John J. McRaith Catechetical Leadership Award committee struggled to select just one recipient for the annual recognition – so they were happy to award two people.
Ging Smith, a parishioner of St. Thomas More Parish in Paducah, and Patti Gutiérrez, the former pastoral associate of St. Michael Parish in Sebree, were the 2020 recipients of the award, which honors individuals who are (or have been) professional ministers working for a minimum of five years in the Diocese of Owensboro in the field of catechetics.
The award is usually announced at an annual catechetical leader appreciation dinner, but due to COVID-19 restrictions the event switched to virtual-only on Aug. 27.
Dr. Jeff Andrini, the director of the Diocese of Owensboro’s Office of Evangelization and Discipleship, shared that Ging Smith was nominated by the Paducah Community Catholic Faith Formation Board of Directors.
Calling Smith a “wonderful woman of faith,” Dr. Andrini said that her nomination letter clearly showed that her service as director of Paducah Faith Formation “has impacted many over the years.”
The nomination letter stated that Smith “truly nurtures the faith development of all she comes into contact with, and fosters a spirit of unity with everyone. She is ready, willing and able to do it all and she does.”
Dr. Andrini said the letter also quoted Smith’s husband, who said that her traits are driven by one factor: “a true, deep compassion for Christ… Her compassion is given to the students at faith formation as she witnesses their slow, steady move towards adulthood. Her compassion is shared with volunteers when she laughs and cries with them.”
Charlie Hardesty, director of the Diocese of Owensboro’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, explained that Gutiérrez has worn “many ministry hats.”
During the Aug. 27 event, Hardesty explained that from “faith formation, to youth ministry, from young adult to adult formation, and retreats, tirelessly searching for great catechetical resources and even creating and translating them at times, she has done it all… almost always bilingually.”
Gutiérrez served as the diocese’s first full-time director of Hispanic Ministry from 2004-2007, and then as pastoral associate and parish life coordinator at St. Michael Parish from 2007-2018.
“Although no longer working for the parish, Patti Gutiérrez continues to serve our diocese and others through translation work and by serving as a consultant for different Catholic organizations/religious orders/dioceses,” said Hardesty. “She is also a member of the USCCB communications team for the V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry.”
Additionally, Gutiérrez’s husband, Deacon Chris Gutiérrez, shared that “Patti’s deep love for Christ and his Church is demonstrated daily through her good heart, sleepless nights, love and service to me and our three children.”
Alyssa Maty, who wrote the nomination, summed up her character best by saying, “Patti is concerned for and working for everyone so that all may know, see and hear God.”
Originally printed in the November 2020 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.
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