Six people were honored as “extraordinary Catholics” in front of more than 600 guests at the 33rd annual Cardinal’s Awards Dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 11.
Deacon Kevin McCardle (St. Monica Church in Santa Monica) and Dr. Nabil El Sayad (St. Lawrence Martyr Church in Redondo Beach) were recognized together with two pairs of parishioners from St. Bede the Venerable Church in La Cañada Flintridge: Brothers Mike and Tim Smith, and close friends Josie Hull and Siena Dancsecs.
The night also included a video tribute to Bishop David O’Connell produced by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Digital Team. “Bishop Dave,” who was killed last February at his home, served as the host of the Cardinal’s Awards in 2020 when Archbishop Gomez was unable to attend due to illness.
Funds raised from the 2023 event benefitted two charities dedicated to helping women and children dealing with homelessness and healing from domestic violence: Catholic Charities of LA’s Good Shepherd Shelter and Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children, both located near LA’s Echo Park area.
Kevin McCardle has served St. Monica as a permanent deacon since his ordination last summer. But many already knew him as president of the reimagined St. Monica Preparatory, as St. Monica this school year combined its elementary and high school to form a TK-12th grade school.
McCardle took the role after retiring as director of UCLA’s Anderson School of Business MBA program. He has served on the financial advisory board of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Los Angeles Province and the board of St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. For the last 14 years, McCardle has also been board chair (and a volunteer) for the nonprofit St. Joseph Center in Venice, one of the most prolific outreach facilities in the country for homeless issues.
“He is a man of integrity, with a great mind for education and a heart for the Lord,” said St. Monica pastor Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson. “When you get that combination in a person, it’s an incredible gift to the community.”
DR. NABIL EL SAYAD
Dr. Nabil El Sayad is a native of Egypt who can testify that witnessing the vision of the Virgin Mary over the dome of the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mary near Cairo with thousands of others in 1968 profoundly changed his life as a 20-year-old.
In 1998, 13 years after arriving in Southern California from New York with his medical degree, El Sayad launched his nonprofit St. Mary’s Foundation in Lomita, near his two practice facilities. His first outreach was with the Sts. Peter and Paul Poverty Program in Wilmington. Lately, it has supported the move of the Juan Diego House for priestly formation to the renamed Queen of Angels Center in Torrance.
In between, his foundation has worked with Sister Ena Maguire and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny to find opportunities for assistance as far away as Africa, Romania, and India.
“Wherever God sends us, we go,” said El Sayad. “I think it is a message from God to be aware of how people live, and the help they need.”
MIKE AND TIM SMITH
Mike and Tim Smith followed in the footsteps of their father, local car sales legend Bob Smith Jr., who received the Cardinal’s Award in 1991, and their oldest brother, Rob, who received it in 1998.
Turning 79 this August, Mike’s successes are noted in his work on the St. Francis High School board, fundraising for the Dolores Mission Church in East LA, and integrating his business with the Verbum Dei Jesuit High School student work program, and the delight he has serving Communion to the homebound.
Younger brother Tim, who just turned 77, had a near-decade-long run as the chair of the Catholic Education Foundation. He has also sat on the boards for Holy Family Adoption Services, his alma mater at Santa Clara University and the parish council at St. Bede the Venerable Church, his home parish.
“The messages in our family life were consistent with what we were taught at all levels,” said Tim, who along with Mike graduated from Loyola High of LA. “That education, having a foundation of moral thinking, remained throughout. Doing things for others was strong all the way through.”
JOSIE HULL AND SIENA DANCSECS
Josie Hull and Siena Dancsecs: In 2014, when they were both 12 years old, the pair enlisted their parents to create a nonprofit called Once Upon A Room, dedicated to decorating hospital rooms and lift the spirits of young patients facing long-term illness. Their work has stressed the importance of recognizing beneficiaries for who they are rather than simply for their diagnoses.
Josie and her twin sister, Teresa, came from Guatemala to the U.S. in 2002 as 1-year-olds conjoined at the head. A 23-hour surgery at UCLA separated them, but the two needed to stay in LA for long-term treatment and were adopted by two families in La Cañada and Valencia.
Siena, now a junior at Texas Christian University, has been friends with Josie since age 5. The project has expanded from Southern California to more than two dozen hospitals around the country, with more than 5,000 rooms decorated.
At 21 years old, they are the youngest-ever Cardinal’s Award recipients.
“They can be like young girls we have seen in the Church over the century — St. Clelia Barbieri, St. Agatha of Sicily — who were willing to sacrifice for Christ, Msgr. Antonio Cacciapuoti, their longtime pastor at St. Bede and now the pastor at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. “We see the ability of Josie and Siena to allow Christ to be among us.”