2018 Champions of Catholic Education!

Monsignor John A. Ecker

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THE SPECIAL HONOREE AWARD

is presented to an individual who has dedicated time, talent and treasure to Catholic education.

Monsignor Ecker was ordained a priest at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross in 1958. Msgr. Ecker has spent the ensuing 60 years as a priest of the Yakima Diocese and he’s still going strong. Thirty-three of those years were spent as the school pastor of St. Paul Cathedral School. Additional years saw him serving in other parishes in the diocese as well as in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and teaching at Yakima Central Catholic High School and Marquette High School in Yakima. A leader in ecumenical circles in Yakima, Msgr. Ecker has worked tirelessly to bring the Yakima community together through religious education. In an effort to ensure the future of Catholic education on the west side of Yakima, he assisted with the relocation of St. Paul Cathedral School to the Holy Family Parish campus. The school was renamed Christ the Teacher Catholic School in 2017 and has seen an increase in enrollment in just one year.

Lisa Jacobs

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Saint John Baptist De La Salle Award

is presented to an individual who has excelled as an educator in our Catholic schools.

Lisa is the President of Tri-Cities Prep, the only Catholic High School in the Tri-Cities area. She came on board during a challenging time and has become greatly admired by every parent, faculty, staff and Board member. Lisa injected a spirit of renewal at a time when enrollment had dwindled and fund-raising was stagnant. Tri-Cities Prep views her as their MVP, although she is most modest and will rarely ever takes personal credit for what she has accomplished.

Katie Crosby Ferguson

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Saint John Baptist De La Salle Award

is presented to an individual who has excelled as an educator in our Catholic schools.

Katie was born in Spokane, WA and attended Holy Names  Academy and Holy Names College, earning a BS degree in Education.  She taught and was a principal in Catholic schools for over 41 years, including Las Cruces, NM, Chicago IL, Spokane, WA and Richland, WA.  She taught middle school English, science, reading, religion, Spanish, sewing and – for the last 23 years – English grammar at Christ the King School.  Over one thousand students benefited from her dedication to teaching, her strong work ethic and her commitment to her Catholic faith.  In 2006, Katie received the Marie-Rose Award from the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary Community.  She retired in 2007. She and her husband, Bob Ferguson, continued to support Catholic education with scholarships to Tri-City Prep, Gonzaga Prep and Gonzaga University. Shortly before Katie passed away on May 11, 2018, while in Hope, Idaho, to celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary, she and Bob committed to sponsor a new Montessori Pre-School at Christ the King School in Richland. This school will be a lasting legacy to her dedication to Catholic education.

Areli Campos

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Elizabeth Ann Seton Award

is presented to those who have dedicated their time, talent and treasure to religious education, faith formation and RCIA programs in their parishes.

Areli has served selflessly at Holy Redeemer Parish in Yakima for more than 13 years as a religious education instructor, youth ministry leader, lector and Eucharistic Minister. Areli is a role model and example for many youth, young adults, catechists and volunteers at Holy Redeemer. She engages the children and their parents alike in her classes and ministries. She regularly attends Magnificat formation classes, conferences and trainings to increase her knowledge, confidence and ability to catechize and evangelize. Areli also assists her pastor with Magnificat logistics and has gone above and beyond in answering the call to serve and catechize in our diocese.

Mary Hamelin

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Elizabeth Ann Seton Award

is presented to those who have dedicated their time, talent and treasure to religious education, faith formation and RCIA programs in their parishes.

Mary is known as the quick-witted, impish, Irish leprechaun who works her magic all around Holy Family Parish and the Diocese of Yakima offices. Forty plus years ago she and her husband Bob initiated the RCIA program in Yakima. Since there was no official manual at the time for RCIA, she spent many hours writing instructional materials for people  seeking the Sacraments of Initiation in the Catholic Church. She remained an RCIA team member for many years and is currently a team member in Holy Family’s Catholics Returning Home program. Mary has also worked at St. Joseph School, the Pastoral Center and the Youth Ministry office at Holy Family. She washes and irons altar linens, prints the Birthright monthly newsletter and provides baked goods for numerous parish functions. Mary continues to learn about and share her faith during weekly and monthly Bible studies and small groups at Holy Family. As one who has walked the walk, Mary offers comfort, consolation and an empathic ear to the widows of Holy Family.

Ann Sonn

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Saint Thomas Aquinas Award

is presented to an individual who has been a major benefactor of Catholic education in Central Washington.

Ann exemplifies a champion as defined as “a person who defeats or surpasses others in a competition.” However, her volunteer work has been done out of love for her students rather than competition with others. Ann has volunteered as a speech pathologist at St. Joseph Catholic School in Wenatchee for over 35 years. Every week she provides 3-4 hours of speech therapy to students who would otherwise have to access these services outside of the school or do without. Over the course of 35+ years, she has served over 400 children and donated over 4500 hours. When her children were growing up, Ann volunteered in the junior high and high school youth ministries. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Central Washington Catholic Foundation (as Past President), continuing her unwavering support of Catholic education in all of its forms in the Yakima Diocese.

Helen Ghirardo

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Saint Thomas Aquinas Award

is presented to an individual who has been a major benefactor of Catholic education in Central Washington.

Helen has been a staunch supporter of Catholic education through her volunteer activities at Christ the King School and Tri-Cities Prep where all of her six children attend or graduated from. Helen was Room Mom for each child and has served on the Christ the King Home and School Association, led the CK School Hospitality program, oversaw Teacher Appreciation Week, chaired the CK Sausage Fest, the Games Committee, the Beer Garden, the Pop Booth, the Arts & Crafts, and the Kegger Club. She and her husband Kevin also created and chaired the CK Golf Tournament for ten years. Helen and Kevin were part of the founding group that worked to make the dream of Tri-Cities Prep a reality. She has served as class advisor for each of her children, organized numerous class fund-raisers, concessions at basketball and football games, chaired the auction and decorating committees, and supported student retreats with food, decorations and mementos. Helen’s unwavering support, dedication, faithfulness and commitment to Catholic education has been awe-inspiring to many.

Bud Hollingbery

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Saint Thomas Aquinas Award

is presented to an individual who has been a major benefactor of Catholic education in Central Washington.

Bud is often viewed as the heart and soul behind La Salle High School. His tireless commitment and determined effort toward financial sustainability for the school goes back to the very beginning of La Salle. Bud is totally driven by the mission of the Christian Brothers to “educate the young, especially the poor.” Besides sponsoring some of the most deserving students each year, Bud has also been the driving force behind creative business enterprises that help to financially support even more deserving young people. His initiative has led the La Salle Foundation to purchase a hop field and fruit warehouse that will return several hundred thousand dollars each year toward financial aid for deserving students. Bud is a tireless proponent of the mission of La Salle High School and of Catholic education in our community. He has served on the La Salle Foundation Board and the La Salle High School Board of Directors as member and President plus on the regional Lasallian Education Fund Board which raises funds for tuition assistance for students to attend Lasallian schools throughout the western United States. Bud is the heart behind so many efforts to promote Catholic education at La Salle and he is not even Catholic! Bud is a member of Grace of Christ Presbyterian Church.

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Whose Praises Do You Want To Sing?

Who is inspiring the youth in your parish?
Who is the first to come to school and the last to leave?
Who do you know that is living their faith generously in their support of Catholic Education?

Nominations for Champion of Catholic Education Awards are always accepted. Nominations received after June 15 will be considered for the following year. The Champion of Education Awards honor and celebrate individuals for their outstanding efforts, contributions, and achievements on behalf of Catholic school and parish education.

Awards are presented annually during the Celebration of Faith event at the Yakima Convention Center.

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