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  • Gartland Awards 2019

    The Bishop Gartland Service Award for


    Francisco Velez
                                       
    This little man is a dynamic duo with his Catechist wife, together they are a profound cornerstone for our Hispanic Catholic family. Although they are from Puerto Rico, they serve the whole parish, and their Hispanic friends know they are welcome at any time in their home. For more than 20 years before arriving here, they were active together at St. Rocco's in Newark, NJ, where they were trained and served in many church ministries. About 15 years ago they settled in a tiny town nearby and drove 45 minutes to church on Sunday in Waycross.
     
    Francisco is a Vietnam War Veteran, famous for his only military reprimand being that he gave too much candy to the children! On Sundays, he is still guilty of loving the children, as he stuffs dollar bills in their hands and walks them up to the “Children’s Circle” to put something in the Children’s Collection. He and his wife have a deeply devoted faith and serve side by side as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  He is reverenced by all as an honored elder and a humble servant.
     
    “Poncho,” as he is affectionately known,  is such a stubborn, hard worker that he does not know how to stop serving. He cares for and supports parishioners and neighbors, fixing their cars and sponsoring some for their immigration papers. Always there to help others, he is the classic Usher, welcoming the newcomer and encouraging the lost, showing a child how to carry the money up in the offertory procession with pride and dignity. Our parish is stronger, wiser, and steadily sustained by humble servants like Poncho Velez.
     

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