Champions of Catholic Education - Archived

by David B. Valdivia
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The Central Washington Catholic Foundation is pleased to announce the first-ever recipients of the Champions of Catholic Education Awards.  These awards will be presented by Bishop Joseph Tyson during the Celebration of Faith event on October 12, 2013 at the Yakima Convention Center.  The event is the Foundation’s signature fund-raiser for the Celebration of Faith Fund that provides tuition assistance grants for students attending our Catholic schools and parishes for their religious education programs.


The St. Thomas Aquinas Award is presented to those who have been major benefactors of Catholic education in Central Washington.  This year two awards will be presented.  The De La Salle Christian Brothers came to the Yakima Valley in the mid-nineties to assist in establishing La Salle High School.  The Christian Brothers brought not only their incredible 320-year heritage and international presence but also Brothers and financial support.  Their expertise, financial backing and passion for “educating the young, especially the poor” has been essential for the success of La Salle High School.

Mike & Clara Gamache have been instrumental in giving access to La Salle High School to many deserving young people in our community and valley.  Their financial support has led the way for the return of Catholic high school education in the Yakima Valley.

The St. John Baptist de la Salle Award is presented to those who have excelled as educators in our Catholic schools.  Three awards will be presented.  Brother Dan Morgan has been a lead administrator, teacher, coach, and bus driver for La Salle High School for much of the past twenty years.  In a school that prides itself in meeting students with love, respect, guidance and challenge, Brother Dan is a role model.  He has dedicated his life to bring Catholic education to life for young people in the Yakima Valley.

Judy Davis has been a consistent supporter, educator and principal at St. Paul Cathedral School for 35 years.  She established the early education, preschool and kindergarten programs and continued to direct them for many years.  Judy blood pressure and prosolution volume pills has served two stints as principal on top of teaching and program development.

Kathleen Cleary has faithfully served St. Joseph School in Kennewick for the past 35 years as a teacher, principal, administrator, friend and confidante.  She is currently an art teacher at St. Joseph.  In addition, Kathleen is a religious education teacher for St. Joseph Parish.

The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award is presented to those who have dedicated their time, talent and treasure to religious education, faith formation and RCIA programs in their parishes.  This year four awards will be presented.  Ree Kearns spent many years as the Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Yakima.  She is currently the Holy Family Pastoral Assistant for Adult RCIA and Faith Formation for Holy Family Parish.  She leads the RCIA program, conducts Baptism preparation classes, directs the Catholics Returning Home program, leads Bible study classes, supervises the Elizabeth Ministry, and does many other tasks that no one knows about.

Kay Shepard is the Director of Faith Formation for St. Joseph Parish in Wenatchee.  She directs the RCIA program, provides pre-Baptism preparation for parents and godparents, prepares older children for First Communion, works with returning Catholics and is a Marriage Tribunal Advocate.   Kay has dedicated many years of service in support of the faith formation of children, teens and adults

Graciela Gutierrez is the lead RE Coordinator for Immaculate Conception Church in Mabton.  She is a Magnificat Program instructor and s a Lector at Mass, visits the sick and takes them the Eucharist, is a Cursillista, holds fund-raisers to send RE volunteers to the Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles and helps with community projects.

Pat Stevens is the Religious Education Director at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Moses Lake.  Pat led a multi-year effort of bringing together pastors, students, parents and volunteers to research and develop a model religious education program at Our Lady of Fatima Parish.  Pat changed the face of religious education at the parish because of his vision and persistence.