Hinesville-area residents Jorge Aponte and Amelia “Amy” King received the 2014 Bishop Gartland Awards for outstanding service to the Catholic Church in South Georgia.
Aponte and King, both members of St. Stephen Catholic Church in Hinesville, are two of 82 South Georgia recipients who received the awards Nov. 23 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah.
Savannah Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer conferred the honors.
The Bishop Gartland Service Award is bestowed by the Diocese of Savannah on persons who have given distinguished service to the church in the tradition of its first bishop. The gold-and-blue award pin combines elements of Bishop Francis X. Gartland’s episcopal coat of arms with elements from the shield of the Diocese of Savannah. His motto, Vincit Veritas, or “Truth conquers,” is inscribed on the pin.
The Catholic Diocese of Savannah includes 86 parishes, including missions, in 90 counties of South Georgia.
Aponte has been a member of St. Stephen’s since September 2009. Prior to that, he was a member of the Catholic Fort Stewart Army chapel for several years.
He is a minister of the Eucharist, lector, usher and a wood-instrument musician. With his wife, Lucy, Aponte publishes the Hispanic Sunday-music sheets. He also helps with other parish events.
“I recognized Jorge as a leader, and he has not disappointed,” Father Adam Kasela said. “He is our Hispanic coordinator for sacramental and Eucharistic life and Hispanic liaison on our parish council. He and his wife are always present at parish functions and always lends a hand when needed. He is most deserving of this award.”
King joined St. Stephen’s parish in September 2005. She is from Massachusetts. Since becoming a member, she has been president of CCW, an active member of St. Vincent DePaul Society and of the special-events committee, secretary of parish council and helps run the small parish gift/book store.
Since she became a member of St. Stephen’s, she has made all of the baptismal bibs.
“I am happy to nominate Amy King for this prestigious award,” Kasela said. “She has always been available to help me or St. Stephen’s anytime when asked. I can’t thank her enough for everything she is and has done for our parish.”
The award is named for Francis X. Gartland, the first bishop of Savannah, and was instituted in 2000 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Savannah.
Gartland, born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1805, was named bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Savannah in July 1850. He traveled the expanse of the diocese, which at that time included all of Georgia and part of northern Florida.
When a yellow-fever epidemic struck Savannah, he visited the sick, administering the sacraments, until he contracted the fever and died in 1854.