MARQUETTE – Josie Benoit of St. Joseph Parish in Sault Ste. Marie and the late Lawrence Chouinard, Sr. of Holy Family Parish in Flat Rock are recipients of the 2013 Legacy of Faith Catholic Service Award. Diocesan Administrator Father Francis Dobrzenski announced the recipients of the award, which annually recognizes members of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette for lifetime dedication and service to the Catholic Church.
Benoit has served her parish selflessly for about 30 years as a catechist for youth and adults; as a teacher of sacramental preparation for Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, and Christian Burial; as a dedicated choir member; and as a pastoral council member. Her leadership of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) has helped the program to flourish. In nominating Benoit for the award, many of her fellow parishioners credit her with fostering the vibrancy of parish life and being a role model of how to live and share the Catholic faith. In addition to serving her parish, Benoit is a wife, a mother and employed full time outside the home. She has been involved in a number of community activities, including raising money for cancer research.
Father Dobrzenski presented Benoit with a commemorative medallion at a Mass at her home parish, in the presence of her parish pastor, Father Jose Maramattam, family and friends. Following the Mass, she was honored at a reception where friends and family gathered to celebrate her. Benoit was grateful and humbled to receive the award. In thanking her parish family for their support, she said, “I am proud to be Catholic. I do what I do because I’m Catholic…..God brought us together to do great things, and we are.”
Lawrence Chouinard, Sr.
The late Lawrence Chouinard, Sr. of Holy Family Parish in Flat Rock was also recognized with a Catholic Service Award in honor of his outstanding life of service to the Lord and the Catholic Church. The posthumous award was presented to Chouinard’s oldest son, Lawrence, Jr., by Father Francis Dobrzenski, diocesan administrator, at a recent Mass at Holy Family Parish. Father John Longbucco, parish pastor, concelebrated the Mass, at which Chouinard was recognized, along with Father Dobrzenski. Friends and family members of Chouinard gathered for a luncheon in his honor following the award presentation.
Lawrence Chouinard, Sr. was born in 1913, the oldest of six children. He worked in the woods and on the family farm, and then at the Escanaba Paper Mill for 44 years, before retiring in 1975 as a carpenter foreman. He married the former Fernant Bussineau and together they raised 13 children. Following a life-changing Catholic retreat early in his marriage, Chouinard became a very devout Catholic whose life and example influenced many.
Chouinard was a charter member of the Escanaba Conference of St. Vincent de Paul, and remained an active volunteer for nearly 50 years, until shortly before his death at age 97. He received the Ozanam Top Hat Award for distinguished Vincentians in 1999. He was also a member of the Third Order of St. Francis for 53 years, the Knights of Columbus for 55 years, and OSF St. Francis Hospital Auxiliary for 12 years. He was involved in prison ministry, visiting prisoners every Sunday morning for 16 years. He loved growing his own garden and sharing the fruits of his labor. He visited the sick in their homes and in the hospital, gave rides to those in need, provided haircuts to the homebound, and donated his tips to the poor. Chouinard is remembered as a dedicated Christian who enjoyed serving his church and helping others that were less fortunate than him.
The Catholic Service Award is a program of Legacy of Faith, which is the campaign to build the Endowment Foundation of the Diocese of Marquette. The award was created in 2006 in the spirit and intent of the endowment to preserve and foster the Catholic faith in the Upper Peninsula. Nominations for the annual award are due by May 1 of each year. For more information, contact Terri Gadzinski at 906-227-9108 or visit www.LegacyOfFaith.net.