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Catholic Courier. (Rochester, N.Y.) 1989-current, June 15, 1989, Image 1

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ConafctortcLcatttngs In this month's fnstght sec- tion* Jhoe men reflect on their responses to Gods call to serve others Pages 12-13 24 0 74470\73013\ 2 ATHOLIC COURIER Diocese of Rochester Thursday, June 15,1989 SOC 24 Pages Trio reveals range of women's gifts to church By Lee Strong Staff writer They share a history of being outsiders in one way or another. -Gabriela Jaskot arrived in Rochester a 16-year-old immigrant from Poland. Lil- lian Piersante had to contend with being Hispanic and divorced. Dr. Ruth Lawrence faced starting out in a profession that, at the time, was almost exclusively male. Yet despite their diverse backgrounds, these three women also share a commit- ment to their faith and community — a commitment that has brought them recog- nition for their accomplishments. Jaskot, Piersante and Lawrence were among the eight women honored at a din- ner held Wednesday, June 7, at St. Ber- nard's Institute. The dinner, sponsored by the Women's Scholarship Committee of St. Bernard's Institute, was intended to raise money for the scholarship fund that aids women pursuing graduate theological stu- dies at the institute. The dinner raised ap- proximately $3,900 towards that end. At the same time, the dinner and awards raised awareness of the contributions Catholic women make to their church. The event grew out of a discussion about the scholarship and women who had served the community in some way, aoted Judith 'fulfill one of the purposes of the group: to talk and tell more about what women are doing in ministry.\ In selecting the women to be honored, she added, the committee \decided we would have a spectrum of gifts and types of women in mis group.'' In addition to Jaskot, Piersante and Lawrence, the honorees were: Sister Mary Bride Claire, RSM, major superior of the Sisters of Mercy from 1961-70; Mary Hall, longactive in promoting awareness of the gifts and needs of Black Catholics; Nancy Kennedy, who serves on the boards of the DePaul Clinic and St. Bernard's In- stitute; Denise Mack, a pastoral adminis- trator, religious educator and a spiritual di- rector; and Sister Agnes Cecilia Troy, SSJ, superior general of me Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester from 1963-75. Jaskot, for one, was surprised, but pleased, mat she was included in such dis- tinguished company. \At first, I made nothing .of it,\ she said. \I never worked to be recognized for what I've done. What I did, I did from my heart.'' What Jaskot did was to plunge headlong into me Polish Catholic community in Ro- chester after her arrival in this country in 1926. She has been active in both St. Stan- islaus and St. Theresa parishes, of which she and her husband Stanley were founding members. Over the years, Jaskot promoted Polish culture, becoming president of the Polish Women's Alliance, founding and becom- ing die first woman president of the Po- lonia Civic Center, being a founding mem- ber of the Sister City Committee of Krackow P andJ£ochester. She also organ- ized the Rogwaj Polek — the Children's Polish Dance Group — to help teach young people about Polish folk dancing, culture and traditions. \I think every nationality, tiiey should know where their parents and grandparents came from,\ Jaskot said. \Every nationality has a treasure, a background. Let them keep it up, not let it die.'' Gabriela Jaskot, president and coordinator of the Polish Women's Alliance, has been the youth director for St. Stanislaus Parish for 40 years. Through her involvement with young people, she hopes to pass on the customs and traditions of her Polish heritage. For Polish people, Jaskot said, religion is a vital part of me culture and has helped Poles survive various crises in their his- tory. Among these crises were the devastation • i ' '\ . ' .- '•\\•. * Linda Dow Hayes/Catholic Courier Ruth Lawrence, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at Strong Memorial Hospital, entered the medical profession at a time when the field was almost exclusively male. Her mother's desire for her daughter to get a good education provided impetus for Lawrence's enrollment in medical school. J of the Second World War and repression of the Church and people by the communist government that has ruled Poland since the war. Jaskot has participated in a variety of fundraising efforts to helpdie people of Po- land, and has traveled back to Poland several times to bring money and supplies. In 1974, Jaskot took over money she'd helped raise to build a church in Nowa Huta to help build a church in the town •after the Polish government declared mat die church could only be built witii money from die United States. Piersante, on die otiier hand, has strug- gled widi parts of her Hispanic heritage. \I've broken away from the traditional Spanish Catholic Church,\ Piersante said, pointing specifically to what she called the sense of \machismo\ tiiat lingers in mat church. \They're a lot slower man the Anglo church,\ she observed. Nevertheless, Piersante was formed by that culture, and has worked to blend His- panic and anglo cultures in her life. The ojldest of 16 children, Piersante moved from Puerto Rico to Rochester in 1955. Her family was poor, and she lear- ned early in life about being helped by om- ers. \My mom had sdme wonderful people who helped her out,\ Piersante said. \I focused on mat, saying, 'When I grow up I'll help people.'\ To find out how to help others, Piersante had the examples of her modier and grandmother. \My grandmother always focused on how others were less fortunate than we were,\ Piersante said. \Even my mother, she always had enough rice to feed, an extra person.\ In high school, Piersante began vol- unteering at the Lewis Street Center and, through the Catholic Youti> Center, work- ing at day camps. She later worked at the Martin de Porres Center, in the home-care program of the Al Sigl Center and, through the church, with the Hispanic community and in religious education. Her divorce temporarily alienated Pier- Continued on page 8

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