Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer bestowed the Bishop Gartland Service Award on 79 volunteers from throughout South Georgia at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Savannah on Nov. 25.
Leopoldo Rodriguez-Berlanga and Dianne Roe, both members of St. Boniface Church in Springfield, were among the recipients.
The Bishop Francis X. Gartland Service Award recognizes long-standing service to the Catholic Church. Recipients are nominated by their pastors.
Gartland was the first bishop of the Diocese of Savanah, serving from 1850 to 1854 when he contracted yellow fever and died.
Fr. Martino Nguyen, pastor of St. Boniface, said, “Leopoldo(Polo) Rodriguez was born in Mexico and came to the United States with his wife and two children in 2010. He came to Rincon for a job at Efacec, now Georgia Transformer, in 2011 and became a U.S. citizen in 2018. Polo and his family became members of St. Boniface in 2011 and have been involved with the church since then. He is the president of the Discipleship Council, a Eucharistic minister of Holy Communion, an usher and greeter, altar server and has become very involved with the Hispanic community at St. Boniface, forming a Hispanic choir. He recently has applied for the Diaconate program.
"Polo said, 'Even though we have no relatives nearby, we have made good friends and have felt welcomed in our parish.'"
Nguyen added, “Since the first day the doors were opened at St. Boniface Catholic Mission in Springfield, Georgia, Dianne Roe has dedicated over thirty years of service to singing in the choir. She lost her husband, Thomas, before the first Mass was celebrated, and she has been a shining example of faith to her three sons by dedicating years to teaching in the CCD program and singing at each Sunday Mass. Dianne says, 'My greatest wish is to leave this earth singing at church.'"