Lourdes Garza is named finalist for Catholic Extension Lumen Christi Award

Voting is now open to select 2013 ‘Light of Christ’ award winner

Lourdes Garza, the Diocese of Knoxville’s Hispanic Ministry director, is among nine finalists for the 2013 Lumen Christi Award presented by Catholic Extension.

It is the second consecutive year that Ms. Garza has been a finalist for the award. For the past 35 years, the Lumen Christi (Latin for “Light of Christ”) Award has been presented to a priest, religious or layperson who has demonstrated how the power of faith can transform lives and communities.

The recipients have devoted their lives to serving the poor in the most under-resourced dioceses in the United States, and to fostering Catholic communities that build faith, inspire hope and ignite change.

This year, Catholic Extension received more than 40 nominees for the award from across the United States. Catholic Extension is a national fundraising organization that supports and strengthens mission dioceses across the United States.

The organization provides funding and resources to dioceses and parishes through programs and services investing in people, infrastructure and ministries. Support is given based on need, passion and commitment to the growth of the Catholic faith.

The Lumen Christi Award recipient will receive the accolades of Catholic Extension as well as a $50,000 grant—$25,000 for the honoree and $25,000 for the nominating diocese. Each nominee receives $1,000 in support of his or her ministry. If the nominee is selected as a finalist, a $10,000 grant will be awarded.

As the director of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Knoxville, Ms. Garza has helped grow the Catholic Hispanic community in East Tennessee. And to the community of thousands she serves, she is more than a director; she is known as a loving mother, according to the Catholic Extension nomination.

“Since 2005, Lourdes has given her heart and soul to help build a thriving and loving Catholic core in the center of the third-fastest growing Hispanic population in America. From coordinating field Masses for farm workers to writing and distributing a monthly newsletter—La Cosecha (The Harvest)—throughout the diocese, she has become a force of faith, organizing and mobilizing people into action. When invasive surgery and aggressive chemotherapy threatened to slow (or even stop) her service to the faith, Lourdes kept going. She simply found new ways to inspire the more than 63,000 Hispanic members of her Catholic community and tapped into the leaders she spent years cultivating,” said Paul Simoneau, director of the Diocese of Knoxville’s Office of Justice and Peace.

“Everything Lourdes does is a reflection of the truth that every person needs God, and without Him we remain without hope. So in everything Lourdes does, she gives more than material things or comfort or help, she gives God,” Mr. Simoneau added.

Diocese of Knoxville parishioners and supporters of Ms. Garza and the diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry are being asked to cast their votes for her at the Catholic Extension website, www.catholicextension.org.

The public voting is on Catholic Extension’s Facebook page, facebook.com/CatholicExtension, until the May 10 deadline.