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  • Lauren Masty
    Events Specialist
    School of Ministry
    Catherine Hall - Rm. 101
    Phone: 972-721-4077
    Fax: 972-721-4076

    lmasty@udallas.edu

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Distinguished Alumni

The Dei Verbum Award and the Lumen Gentium Award, which are presented annually, acknowledge two graduates of the School of Ministry whose established records of outstanding accomplishment reflect the fruit of "theological education for transformative service." In particular, these awards honor graduates who have given exemplary service to the local church in general, the work of faith formation in particular, and the larger community, especially the poor and needy. The Dei Verbum Award annually honors a graduate of the Catholic Biblical School, while the Lumen Gentium Award is presented each year to an alumnus of the School of Ministry graduate program.

If you would like to nominate someone for one of our distinguished alumni awards, please contact us at ministryevents@udallas.edu and we will put you in contact with the Nomination Committee.


2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

The following distiguished alumni  will be recognized on December 7, 2013 for their exemplary service to the local church in general, the work of faith formation in particular, and the larger community, especially the poor and needy.

2013 Lumen Gentium Award - Lari Newman-Williams
2013 Dei Verbum Award - Mary Elizabeth Morgan

Lari Newman-Williams graduated with the master of pastoral ministry degree in 2007. After serving many years as a catechetical volunteer in the parish, Lari now works as a parish administrator at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Southeast Dallas. Lari returned to the classroom as the first student in the School of Ministry's church management program, a joint venture with the University of Dallas Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business. She completed this graduate certificate in 2012. She serves in her parish as a cantor, liturgist, pastoral council member, and volunteer with and advocate for the youth ministry program. She is integrally involved in the black Catholic community, and has chaired the diocesan black Catholic "Come Home for Christmas" initiative. In 2012, she was awarded the Servant of Christ Award in recognition of outstanding leadership and service to the African American Catholic community of Dallas. In 2013, Lari demonstrated her continued support for her alma mater when she began working on a research project on contemporary parish life with undergraduate pastoral ministry majors at the School of Ministry. Lari and her husband Ronnie have been married for 31 years. They have one daughter, Annelle.

Mary Elizabeth Morgan graduated from the School of Ministry Catholic Biblical School in 2013 as part of the first class from the Diocese of Shreveport, LA. Mary is a member of Christ the King Parish in Bossier City, LA, and she currently works as a nurse at the Shriners Hospital in that area. In 1998, she completed the Loyola Institute of Ministry Extension (LIMEX) Program at Chicago Loyola New Orleans. Mary is well-known in the diocese as a self-less and caring minister who is generous with her time and energy for the sake of others. Among other commitments, she is active in assisting with RCIA, prison ministry, home visitations, taking food to the poor, working in a free clinic, learning Spanish to better serve the Hispanic community, and doing Pre-Cana at her home parish. Mary and her husband, Bob, have four grown children and six grandchildren.

Please join us in congratulating the 2013 Distinguished Alumni! They will receive their awards immediately preceding the 15th annual Landregan Lecture on December 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm in Lynch Auditorium on the University of Dallas campus.


Past Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

Read a bit about some of our past distinguished alumni.

Denise Giegerich Phillips | 2012 Lumen Gentium Award

Mrs. Phillips earned a master of religious education degree in 1990 as a member of the inaugural class of the Institute of Religious and Pastoral Studies (now the School of Ministry). A long time Dallas resident, she graduated from Bishop Dunne High School before attending the University of Texas at Dallas, where she earned a bachelor's degree in literary studies. She has served as catechist within the Catholic Diocese of Dallas since 1981 and as director of campus ministry at the University of Dallas since 1997. She is also currently the university's acting dean of student life. Phillips earned a professional certification from the Catholic Campus Ministry Association (CCMA) in 2004, and is part of that organization's Speaker Committee. Last June, she was awarded CCMA's John Henry Cardinal Newman Legacy Society Award. During her tenure as director of campus ministry, she collaborated with the School of Ministry to establish the Campus Ministry Graduate Assistant Mentoring Program.

Deacon Eduardo and Olga Garcia | 2012 Dei Verbum Award

Deacon and Mrs. Garcia graduated from the School of Ministry Catholic Biblical School in 2010 as part of the first Spanish-language class. Members of Fort Worth's All Saints Catholic Church until 1994, the couple is now active at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Arlington, Texas, where Eduardo serves as a permanent deacon. Since 1995, the Garcias have organized two retreats per year for couples who want to con-validate their marriage in the church. Deacon Garcia also provides communion services at correctional institutions, has assisted AIDS victims at John Peter Smith Hospital and serves as a pastoral counselor within the parish, celebrating baptisms, weddings, quinceañeras and funerals. Mrs. Garcia served on the Permanent Deacon Formation Board from 2000-2008. Together, the couple serves their parish as Eucharistic ministers, catechists, presenters and small group leaders.

Sr. Yolanda Cruz, SSMN | 2011 Lumen Gentium Award

Sr. Cruz graduated from the School of Ministry with a master's in pastoral ministry in 2005. She currently serves as vice-chancellor of the Diocese of Fort Worth, and prior to that, she served as Director of Children's Catechesis for the diocese. She has worked in catechetical ministry in several parishes in the Fort Worth, Mexico, and her native New Jersey. A Sister of Saint Mary of Namur, she serves on the provincial council and has worked in a variety of leadership positions within the order. She has done extensive work to promote vocations to religious life, not only for her own community, but more broadly in the local church, assisting with "Come and See" weekends and other discernment programs across diocesan borders.

William E. O'Connor | 2011 Dei Verbum Award

Mr. O'Connor graduated from the School of Ministry Catholic Biblical School in 2007. An active member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Azle, TX, Bill currently serves as a lector, Eucharistic minister, RCIA catechist and sponsor, director of the altar servers, and member of the Pastoral council and Liturgy committee. Four years ago, Bill began a weekly bible study at the parish, drawing nearly 25 attendees each week from his parish of only 300 families. A rancher by trade, Bill is also very active in the Azle community. He serves on the board of directors for Green Light in Azle, which provides housing and other services to battered women, and he sponsors the Azle Future Farmers of America, FFA, and Beef Show Team, providing cattle, facilities, training, and transportation to Azle youth who would not otherwise have the opportunity to show cattle.

Dcn. Arnold Picon | 2010 Lumen Gentium Award

Arnold Picon was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Dallas in 1992. He serves at St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Plano and throughout the Diocese wherever a Spanish speaking deacon may be needed. He has been Director of Diaconal Ministry and Formation in the Diocese of Dallas since 1997. He coordinates the ministry of deacons in the Diocese and the formation of candidates for diaconal ministry. He also chairs the Deacons' Advisory Council and the Deacons' Personnel Board, serves on the Hispanic Leadership team, and the Landregan Lecture Series Board.

Tena Allain | 2010 Dei Verbum Award

Ms. Tena Allain is a longtime member of St. Ann Catholic Church in Coppell, Texas. Her generosity and skill have been applied in multiple areas of ministry to assist the parish in its mission of proclaiming and living the gospel. A partial list of her accomplishments includes service as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, finance council member, leader of adult mission trips to Mexico, Sunday School catechist, communications director for youth ministry, LifeTeen Parents for Life leader, coordinator of the parish Sunday School, and chair of the parish Pastoral Council.

Michele Elchlepp | 2009 Lumen Gentium Award

Elchlepp chairs the Theology Department at Jesuit College Preparatory School, where she has taught since 1994. She has been recognized for excellence in teaching and served in leadership positions of the Jesuit Secondary Education Association, a national coalition of educators serving schools staffed by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Described by colleagues as "indefatigable," Ms. Elchlepp's effort, while always centered on her students, extends to faculty development, curriculum design, and an innovative program of volunteer service for Jesuit alumni. A graduate of Ursuline Academy, she serves the larger community through participation in a variety of charitable and civic organizations. Ms. Elchlepp called her studies at the School of Ministry "a touchstone" in her work with students. "That knowledge has given me a base which I use while interacting with my students as part of the formation of their knowledge and the development of their personal relationship with God."

Reyna Castelán | 2009 Dei Verbum Award

Castelán, a volunteer Bible study leader at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Worth for over ten years, had been helping out at the federal prison on Fort Worth's south side for several years when she began studies in the Catholic Biblical School. That experience opened up the riches of the bible in a new way. "The classes gave me more than just information about the Bible, "Ms. Castelán said. "They helped me know at a new level that God loves us, no matter what. The teachers' love for the Scriptures inspired me to share that deep truth with my brothers in prison." After graduation, she arranged with professors at the School of Ministry to lead a small group of Spanish speaking inmates through the comprehensive curriculum. A long time volunteer for Tarrant County Aids Outreach Center and an ardent supporter of the work of Catholic Charities, Ms. Castelán is also an associate of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur. She also served as an employee of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth for over 20 years.

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