For their willingness to respond to needs in the community with “What can I do?” and not “Who, me?”, five members of the Los Angeles Catholic community were honored for their extraordinary service at the 23rd annual Cardinal’s Award Dinner Feb. 4 at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland.

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. More than $10 million has been raised from the annual event since its inception.

The honorees were presented by Los Angeles’ auxiliary bishops, who offered words of praise in addition to citing some of their accomplishments. Bishop Thomas Curry likened Yolanda Brown to the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke, a woman “who brings boundless hope and inspiration to the poor” of Hollywood where she serves as parish life director of Blessed Sacrament Church.

Brown said she was humbled by the honor. “I am grateful to the Church and to my husband Leon for his support,” she said. “And I am grateful to work alongside so many giants of social justice in our local church, people who enlighten me on what it means to give life.”

Bishop Alexander Salazar praised Alex Chaves as one who does much out of the view of most, citing a family who Chaves met at a hospital while visiting his own granddaughter during her illness. To enable the family’s mother to spend time with her own hospitalized child, Chaves gave her a large donation to help her afford a babysitter and hospitalization. “Alex believes in making it happen for others,” said the bishop.

Chaves then proved the bishop’s point about being uncomfortable in the spotlight, joking, “Those who know me know that I’d rather chew glass than be standing up here.” He expressed his thanks for the honor, though he noted with a smile that he’d always thought the award was “for older people. I guess I got old.”

Michael Enright was praised by Bishop Edward Clark as “a humble overachiever,” true to his Catholic roots and embodying the Jesuit motto, “a man for others” reinforced during his years of Jesuit education at Loyola High School and Santa Clara University. 

Enright thanked the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters and Jesuit priests who taught him locally for laying a solid foundation. “They were about preparing us for life, encouraging us to believe in ourselves,” he said. “Catholic schools today continue to provide a values- and faith-based education, and it is a privilege to support them. I accept this on behalf of all who support Catholic schools.”

Bishop Gerald Wilkerson called Margaret Given “a Given who is also a giver, one who gives to others with great joy and lives a truly faithful life. She believes in the importance of family and in setting a wonderful example of what it means to be a wife and mother.”

Given dedicated her honor “to the sisters and priests of our Church who have served us so well for so long.” And she cited as one of her inspirations the words of  HYPERLINK "" St. Therese of Lisieux: “You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, but at the love with which we do them.” 

Bishop Joseph Sartoris lauded Margaret Romano for her “generosity of spirit, a woman who is quick to say yes to those in need. She has a heart of gold, and a marriage and family to match.”

As did other honorees, Romano said she was humbled by the honor, which she accepted “on behalf of Team Romano,” referring to her husband Tom and her family. “There are so many who serve our church, who work to give praise to God in gratitude for the life we have,” she said. “It truly is in giving that we receive, and volunteering is a way of giving back for all we’ve received.”

This year’s event marked the first with Archbishop José Gomez as the host, succeeding the retired Cardinal Roger Mahony who began the annual celebration (and who was in attendance). Archbishop Gomez, nearing the first anniversary of his installation as leader of the nation’s largest archdiocese, said this first year “has been wonderful for me” in traveling to and attending numerous events and meetings. “I look forward to meeting and working with all of you in the days ahead,” he told the 1,000-plus attendees with a smile. 

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