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Dedicated to faith and service: The 2012 Cardinal’s Award recipients

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Five members of the Los Angeles Catholic community will be honored for their many years of service to Church and community at the 23rd annual Cardinal’s Award Dinner Feb. 4 at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood.

The 2012 honorees --- Yolanda Brown, Alex Chaves, Michael Enright, Margaret Given and Margaret Romano --- bring to 115 the number of men and women honored with the award since 1990.

Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the construction of a new worship space for Sagrado Corazon y Santa Maria de Guadalupe Church in Cudahy to build a new worship space to accommodate its large number of parishioners. Reservations (which are required) may still be made. Visit the website at  www.cardinalsawardsdinner.org or contact Judy Brooks in the Cardinal’s Office of Special Services, (213) 637-7636.

Yolanda BrownIt’s a good thing that, early in her life, Yolanda Brown made friends with the Holy Spirit --- not just for her, but for all who have been blessed by the work of this energetic former banking executive. “The Holy Spirit has yanked me here and there,” laughs the Parish Life Director at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood. “And I have always tried to be open to what the Spirit is calling me to do.”

Parish: Blessed Sacrament Church, Hollywood (formerly St. John Vianney, Hacienda Heights).

Growing up: Born in the Philippines, raised in U.S. cities (daughter of a Navy officer); educated in public and Catholic schools; earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Administration from Pace University (New York), master’s in Theology from Loyola Marymount, doctorate in Ministry from Catholic University of America.

Family: Husband Leon, seven children, 19 grandchildren.

Career and Activities: Banking executive in N.Y. and L.A. (retired as Union Bank senior vice president); served on Archdiocesan Synod Preparatory Commission and as pastoral associate at Dolores Mission Church (Boyle Heights); served on many professional and community boards influencing public policies; installed as Parish Life Director Blessed Sacrament Church (2011).

On her devoutly spiritual upbringing, and willingness to attend other churches: “It didn’t bother my parents that I had a desire to learn about other faith practices. I could appreciate what they offered and believed, and in the end I was strengthened in my own faith.”

On her desire to move from banking to pastoral service: “To get to work, my daily commute took my through downtown Los Angeles’ poorest areas. I began to feel a burning in my heart to do something about that. I could sense God wanting to pull me out of this very nice, tranquil life I was living.”

On serving as pastoral associate at Dolores Mission Church: “I really found peace there, even though I spoke no Spanish at the time. I really discovered what it meant to serve in a collaborative environment, and I realized that effective parish leadership is truly a shared endeavor. When you are able to enable others, the good things that result belong to all of us.”

On her role as PLD: “Blessed Sacrament is such a wonderful blending of cultures, ethnicities, ages and income levels. Long before I arrived here, the Jesuits had fostered, lived and encouraged collaborative leadership. And when a parish changes its leadership, there is a period of transition that can be very difficult. I think one of the gifts given to me through the Holy Spirit was to help people walk in transition, and I am encouraged by the response I have received from the community.”

Alex ChavesNever one to shy away from an opportunity --- for that’s how he began and built one of America’s largest parking businesses --- Alex Chaves well recalls when he was first invited to contribute to the Catholic Education Foundation. “It was a blessing,” smiles the man who, along with his brothers, launched Parking Company of America, and has been a part of numerous good works and causes in the local church and Southern California community.

Parish: St. Agatha Church, Los Angeles.

Growing up: Born near Albuquerque, N.M, one of 10 children raised on a farm; educated in New Mexico schools; married his high school sweetheart Nadine in 1962; moved to Los Angeles in 1967.

Family: Wife Nadine, three married children (Alex Jr., PCA’s CEO; Eric, president and general counsel; Renee, head of revenue control); five grandchildren.

Career and Activities: Founder (with his brothers) of Parking Company of America; supporter of Catholic Education Foundation; trustee for Homeboy Industries, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University, UCLA Anderson School of Business; serves on Board of Directors for the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation and the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders; member of Knights of St. Gregory, Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, Knights of Malta.     

On his parents’ influence: “My mom and dad were very good people, and very good with people. They taught me, the more you give, the more you receive. It’s like a chain reaction. And we feel that whatever we give, it comes back to us in some way. It makes life a lot easier. The minute you contribute to someone else, your life changes for the better.

“Mom was very religious. We prayed rosary every night and attended church frequently. She always said you need to hope, pray, believe in God, and if you believe, it will happen. My dad [who knew the hard life of farming] encouraged us to go to school and into business, and that’s what I always wanted to do.”

On becoming involved with the Catholic Education Foundation: “I wrote a check. Next thing I knew, I was invited to a Foundation event and started meeting people. That brought Nadine and I into a greater connection with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles --- and our involvement increased dramatically, one thing leading to. It was a blessing.”

On service to others: “You have to leave a legacy for your kids, a legacy of making a difference in the world, because God can take it away from you as quickly as he gives it to you. So that’s what I’ve tried to do. And you know what? I wouldn’t rewrite a thing about my life.”

Michael EnrightA successful income tax professional doesn’t have to spend much of his free time working for the benefit of others. But don’t tell that to Mike Enright --- especially when the “others” are young people. A product of Catholic schools and son of a longtime Loyola Law School professor, the genial chairman of the Mount St. Mary’s College Board of Trustees actively supports Los Angeles’ Catholic schools at all levels.

Parish: St. Brendan, Hancock Park.

Growing up: Born in Los Angeles (mother was descendant of Antonio Jose Rocha, businessman and politician of the early 19th century who owned Rancho La Brea); attended Cathedral Chapel School and Loyola High School (L.A.); earned degrees from Santa Clara University, UCLA Graduate School of Management and USC Law School.

Family: Was married 41 years to the late Carol Clem (they had five children); recently married the former Katherine Russell, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Parish Life; together they have ten children and 17 grandchildren.

Career and Activities: 35-year career at Arthur Andersen, 25 as a tax partner in the Los Angeles office; executive with Chartwell Partners LLC, Century City investment firm; trustee for Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation; Emeritus Director for McIntyre House (serving those recovering from substance abuse); trustee of Loyola High School; Emeritus Regent of Santa Clara University; more than 20 years as a trustee at Mount St. Mary’s (currently chair); Detention Ministry volunteer at Eastlake, L.A. County Central Juvenile Hall.

On working with youth: “When people ask me where you can find opportunities to make a difference, I tell them it’s with kids. I can’t think of anything more beneficial than to help our youth develop their skills and talents to make a positive difference in the world and in our future.”

On his close association with the Jesuits: “The Jesuits’ guidepost for education and formation --- ‘Men and women for others --- really resonates with me. The Jesuits do a great job in bringing the laity into what they do, encouraging us to get involved, and educating students in Jesuit spirituality.”

On his involvement in education, especially at Loyola and Mount St. Mary’s: “At Loyola, about half the students are minority, and a lot of students are receiving some sort of financial aid. At Mount St. Mary’s, about 84 percent of the students are minority, and almost all undergraduates receive financial aid. At our Mount trustee meetings we try to bring the students in to share their stories, and our various committees often spend time with them. They are not only bright, but just really good young people. It makes you realize how many opportunities there are to get involved in support of our youth. And that’s not a bad way to spend your life.”

Margaret GivenKind and soft-spoken by nature, it is no surprise to find out that Margaret Daily Given loves gardening, an activity which, she smiles, “brings me peace and relaxation.” It is also, she says, a passion --- as are a number of other endeavors for which the granddaughter of famed church architect A.C. Martin has provided enthusiastic support, especially for those involving vocations and education.

Parishes: St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Encino; St. Monica, Santa Monica.

Growing up: Born in Camarillo; attended St. Mary Magdalen School, Camarillo; St. Catherine, Ventura; Marymount High Schools (Santa Barbara and Westwood); earned degree in education from USC.

Family: Husband John; three married children (Jennifer, Brian and Peter); two granddaughters.

Career and Activities: spent many years assisting St. John’s Health Center, Santa Monica, in its Irene Dunne Guild and Capital Campaign, currently serving as an “Angels of the ER” volunteer; has served on committees of Catholic Education Foundation, West Los Angeles Chapter of Legatus International and the Order of Malta; trustee of St. John’s Seminary; volunteer service to the Cardinal Timothy Manning House of Prayer for Priests.     

On growing up in Camarillo: “My parents were ordinary, loving people. We had family dinners, we went to church regularly. I was the youngest, and my older siblings as well as my parents were role models for me. You realize as you get older how fortunate you are to have had that kind of loving family environment.”

On pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Africa: “That really triggered a sense of giving back. In 2007 John and I were part of a small group led by Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson, which visited a parish in Dandora, Kenya. I had never been to a Third World country before. But Monsignor Lloyd said, ‘Come with us --- it will change your life.’ And he was right. You can’t help but want to support work like that which does so much good.”

On involvement with seminary and House of Prayer: “Too many Catholics don’t know about St John’s Seminary or the House of Prayer. These Christ-like men are called to serve our Church in a very special and unique way, and we need to support them.”

On her lifelong support and admiration for priests and religious: “All my life, I’ve been surrounded by so many loving sisters and priests who were so good to me, who gave so much of themselves in service to families, to parishes, to schools, to their communities. Our sisters and priests have given so much to us; I’ve always felt it was necessary to do something in return for what they have given and sacrificed for us. So it is a joy for me to give in return.”

Margaret RomanoAll good things in life begin with family and faith for Margie Romano, co-founder of the Los Angeles Catholic Prayer Breakfast. “Family is very important in our lives, and ours is a very close-knit family,” says Margie with a proud smile. “God and faith keep us grounded and together.”

Parish: St. Rita, Sierra Madre.

Growing up: Born in Los Angeles; attended All Saints School (El Serreno), Holy Angels Church (Arcadia); graduated from San Gabriel Mission High School and Pasadena City College.

Family: Husband Tom; daughters Renee (husband Mark), Gina (husband Tim) and Nicole; five granddaughters.

Career and Activities: Assistant controller in her husband’s insurance business; former president of the Mothers Guild Board at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, which their daughters attended; serves on development board at Sacred Heart Elementary School, Lincoln Heights; member of House of Prayer for Priests’ Advisory Board and Legatus; Dame of St. Gregory; co-councilor (with her husband) for the archdiocese for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher’s Western Lieutenancy.    

On teaching religious education while her daughters were in school: “I felt it was important to be involved in our kids’ faith lives, and I’m glad I did, because I enjoyed it very much.”

On launching the L.A. Catholic Prayer Breakfast in 2005: “We [she, her husband and Kathie and Allen Lund] started it for the business community as a way for them to come together in prayer before work, but it has expanded so much that now we have high school and elementary school students attending, as well as religious and laity, people from all over the archdiocese and beyond. It is such a joy, and I love it.” 

On observing, from the Cathedral Plaza, Prayer Breakfast attendees gather the morning of the event each year: “You see hundreds and hundreds of people of all ages, all races and nationalities streaming into the Cathedral for the rosary and Mass, and then gather outside for the breakfast and program. And it is always so beautiful to see the community come together that way, very much a picture of our Catholic family.”

On importance of marriage: “Tom and I are a team, and that’s how it’s always been. It’s easy to take a relationship, a marriage for granted, but we work hard not to do that.When we took our vows, we had no expectations other than we were going to love and be faithful to each other. I feel like we share this award together.”

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