The parish community of St. Catherine Laboure Church in Torrance recently recognized parishioner Jeannie Nestojko for being among the first people in the United States to earn the new national certification as a Lay Ecclesial Minister (LEM) from the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL).

Nestojko, a long-time member of St. Catherine’s, has been a catechist for more than 40 years and currently serves as director of Faith Formation for the parish. Her accomplishment was celebrated during a special morning Mass on Oct. 26, together with her family and friends, fellow church staff and parishioners, and guests from the archdiocesan Office of Religious Education (ORE): director Sister Edith Prendergast, RSC, and Dionne Grillo.

Also in attendance was Nestojko’s colleague Joan Doyle, a parishioner at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Los Angeles, who also received the distinctive LEM national certification. Both women were honored during the NCCL Convention in St. Louis earlier this year. The application process took more than a year to complete for both women, who reached their mutual goal with guidance and support from the archdiocesan ORE as well as their own parish communities.