ANNUAL STEWARDSHIP AWARDS
2016 Christian Stewardship Award
Each year ICSC recognizes individuals or organizations for their unique and extraordinary witness to Christian stewardship as a way of life by honoring them with the Christian Stewardship Award.
Monsignor Matthew Bernelli
Pastor Emeritus, St. Mary Catholic Church • Bridgeport, Connecticut
For over a decade Monsignor Matthew Bernelli has shared his vision of stewardship with the ICSC family, contributing his wisdom and experience to the Spanish-language track at ICSC conferences. He is Pastor Emeritus of St. Mary Catholic Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he was pastor for 36 years.
Monsignor Bernelli was born at the foot of the Alps in the Piedmont Region of Italy, in 1938. He felt the call to be a priest at an early age. He was only eight years old when he entered religious formation with the Somascan Fathers, founded by St. Gerome Emiliani (1537) which had, as its primary ministry, caring for orphans and homeless boys. At age 20, still a seminarian, Bernelli was sent to Mexico with three priests to open the first overseas seminary where he taught for two years. Back to Italy, he completed his theological studies, earning a licentiate in theology at St.Anselm University in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1964.
The first ten years of his priesthood were spent in Latin America taking care of orphans. He spent four years in Guatemala, one year in El Salvador, three years in Mexico and two years in Panama where he established, with another priest, a Boys Town ministry which continues to grow and thrive.
Father Bernelli came to the United States in 1974 and began serving in the Diocese of Bridgeport. In 1979 he was incardinated into the diocese. In 1980 he was appointed pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bridgeport, Connecticut; a parish on the verge of collapse. The buildings, including the church and the rectory, were beyond repair, the coffers empty, the neighborhood cited by the New York Times as one of the 10 worst ghettos in America.
Searching for a way to keep the parish open and to lift the spirits of its parishioners, Father Bernelli discovered stewardship and began attending ICSC conferences. With a commitment to implement stewardship at St. Mary’s, Father Bernelli and the parishioners took an impoverished parish and transformed it into a vibrant, lively faith community which serves as an inspiration to others.
Preserving the original stone, mosaics and stain glass windows, fruits of the labors of prior generations, Father Bernelli led the effort to tear down the old buildings and replace them with new ones. The parish incorporated the old into the new, and created a place of worship that reflected the spirit of the Latino community. The parish and surrounding neighborhood enjoy a new energy and renewed vitality.
Monsignor Bernelli and the family of faith at St. Mary’s give witness to the transforming power of stewardship.
2016 Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Award
The Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Award is presented to a parish for its outstanding work in Christian stewardship formation in honor of the late Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy. Archbishop Murphy was an ardent supporter of ICSC and a passionate promoter of Christian stewardship. He died in June 1997, and this award is a fitting tribute to his memory.
Good Shepherd Catholic Church
Good Shepherd Parish was founded in May 1965, to serve the Catholic population of the Mount Vernon area of Alexandria, Virginia. Parishioner participation in liturgical ministries, lifelong faith formation, fellowship, and a commitment to serving those in need have been the hallmarks of Good Shepherd Parish from the first days of its history. Parishioners are encouraged to live faith-filled lives and to recognize how their God-given gifts may be used in service to one another and in their local community.
The community at Good Shepherd has a long tradition of “welcoming the stranger” through its hospitality and welcoming newcomers to the immediate area. Their hospitality has also extended to those new to the United States. Over five decades, parishioners have opened their hearts and homes to new arrivals from Southeast Asia, those escaping war and strife in Central and South America and even the families of armed service and government personnel whose lives, by the very nature of their service, are so transient.
Good Shepherd’s family of faith is also committed to outreach to the poor and underprivileged in its community, nationally, and internationally. In the past ten years over $500,000 has been raised at its parish International Festival. These funds have been distributed to the community through “Shepherd’s Gate Grants” and to charitable organizations that provide support to those in need of food, shelter, and educational opportunities.
Good Shepherd has grown from 900 to more than 3,400 families, with 57 original families still worshiping and serving in the parish. Eight Sunday Masses in English and Spanish are celebrated each weekend. There are over 150 active ministries, encompassing liturgy, faith formation, outreach and more.
2016 Bishop William G. Connare Award
The Bishop William G. Connare Award recognizes for distinguished service those who have been diocesan stewardship and development officers. It is presented in memory of Bishop William Connare, who provided 15 years of leadership to ICSC as its Episcopal Moderator.
Mr. Rick Jeric
As executive director of the Office of Development and Planning since 2003, Mr. Jeric has been responsible for development and planning activities for the 23-county Diocese of Columbus, including stewardship, capital campaigns, major gifts, the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, strategic planning, feasibility studies, the cultivation of major gifts and relationships with major gift donors, pastoral planning activities, and maintaining the diocesan census. He also served concurrently as executive director of the Catholic Foundation from 2004 to 2006.
Mr. Jeric served as chair of the ICSC board of directors from 2011 to 2016. His board service goes back to 2007. Mr. Jeric is a member of the following: the Bishop’s Council; Diocesan Retirement Communities Board; the Pontifical College Josephinum Board; the Bishop Watterson High School Finance Committee; the Star Academy Board, maintaining a high school in Tanzania; and the Showers Health Center Board, overseeing the maintenance of a clinic in Uganda.
Throughout his career, Mr. Jeric has promoted Christian stewardship as a way of life to parishes and dioceses alike. He has spoken on behalf of ICSC in a number of different diocesan stewardship events and ICSC Institutes and he has influenced Catholics internationally as well. In 2014 he traveled to the Philippines to offer his wisdom and experience on Christian stewardship as a way of life in several forums.
Mr. Jeric graduated from Borromeo Seminary High School, Wickliffe, Ohio, in 1976, and earned a bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1980. He and his wife, Theresa, have three adult children and are members of St. Brigid of Kildare Parish in Dublin, Ohio. It is with great enthusiasm that we honor Rick Jeric by presenting him the Bishop Connare Award this year.