Catholic Migration Services of the Diocese of Brooklyn honored 30 individuals as Shining Stars. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Father Patrick Keating, CEO of Catholic Migration Services presented the awards Oct. 12 and 19 at Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island during two evenings of dining and dancing.
Raimundas Slizys, a parishioner of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Williamsburg, is this year’s Lithuanian Shining Star.
“It’s a tremendous honor to me,” Slizys said.
“I feel like I am continuing in the footsteps of my parents and the Lithuanians that migrated to the United States following World War II. It is really important for us to be a welcoming community. Some people have been here for 50 years or more, while others have only been here for a few [years].
“My parents wanted to preserve their traditions and beliefs and … I hope I can continue their legacy.”
His church is currently completing a total renovation, thanks, in part, to the efforts of the Lithuanian community. Slizys is excited to have the church that he grew up in looking as good as ever and continue serving as a welcoming site for all people in the years to come.
Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary offers the only Lithuanian Mass in New York and people attend from all over the city as well as Long Island, New Jersey and even Connecticut. They gather to celebrate Mass in their own language and share their traditions.
In New York State, there are less than 50,000 people who identity as Lithuanian.
Annunciation’s pastor, Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, is thrilled to have Slizys as such an active member of the parish and is grateful for all of the work he does.
“Ray is the official spokesperson of the Lithuanian community,” Msgr. Gigantiello said.
“I get a call or an email from him at least once a day about his activities or what he is planning next. I am always excited to hear from him because he has helped to build such a strong beautiful community.”
Slizys is on the parish trustee committee and pastoral council. He coordinates parish events as well as instruction for First Holy Communion and Confirmation for the Lithuanian community.
Slizys is a voluntary member of the board of directors of the Lithuanian-American Community, Inc. (NYC Chapter) and the Lithuanian National Foundation, Inc.
The Queens Chinese Ministry recognized Veronica Y. Tsang, a parishioner of St. Michael Church in Flushing, as its Shining Star.
“I was very humbled when I was picked,” she said. “It is a great honor as it gives me an opportunity to speak with new immigrants and share my story and hopefully inspire them.”
Tsang is an executive vice president and chief retail administrator of Cathay Bank. She manages Cathay’s retail branch businesses in Northern California, Washington, Seattle, Chicago, Texas and Nevada regions.
Born in China in 1948, Tsang migrated to the United States in 1966 with her parents to seek a better future.
In St. Michael parish, she coordinates the extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and is a RCIA team member. She served two years as board chair of St. Michael’s Catholic Academy.
Currently, she helps with fundraising as part of the finance committee at St. Michael, and serves on the academy’s development and nominating committees.
She is also a member of the diocesan pastoral council.
“God gave me energy and wisdom to achieve what I have accomplished and I do believe he is still looking out for me every single day,” Tsang said.
Veronica was married to her beloved husband Vincent Tsang for 32 years before his passing in 2004.
“My faith is a vital role in my life,” she said. “In my life as a business woman, without God’s love, I would not be able to be caring, tolerant, and forgiving. In the business life you interact with a lot of different people. We come across many situations and I have to remind myself every day that God is kind and generous and I have to try to be the same way. That helps me to be a better business woman but also a better person in general. I will always make time for God. He is the center of my universe.”
Tsang is also active in her community and is a founding member of the Chinese Gift of Life, which provides free open-heart surgery in the U.S. to needy children from China with congenital heart disease.
“My parish is very important to me,” she said. “It helps me through good times and bad. I want to be able to give back to the parishioners and the parish as best I can. I want to be able to give back as much as I can which is why I am involved in so many ways but it is what I love to do.”
In 2017 Tsang received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award for her contributions to America while preserving her heritage.
“To all immigrants trying to make a life for themselves here I advise them to be patient and kind but know what you want to do and pursue it with passion and drive,” she said. “You must earn the respect of your colleagues the old fashioned way which is working hard. When there is a chance for you to learn something new step up and don’t be afraid.”
All award recipents are:
Maricoeur Altidor, Haitian
Ana Lucia Teixeira Alves, Brazilian
Sharon Andrews, West Indies
Susana Villegas Armas, Ecuadorian
Lourdes Batiz, Garifuna
Lesia Brykailo, Ukrainian
Robert Jim and Daisy Calungsod, Filipino
Georgeann Campbell, African-American
Giuditta Coccia, A.O., Italian
Walter L. Cooper, Irish
Arturo Vazquez Diaz, Mexican
Janusz Grabinski, Polish
Joaquin Gonzalez, Spanish
Teresa L. Gonzalez, Cuban
Anna Hlavata, Czech/Slovak
Saleem Jan, Pakistanian
Terence Nedumparambil Joseph,
Indian Latin Rite
Ji Lin, Chinese (Brooklyn)
Phoung Cong Nguyen, Vietnamese
Enoch Opoku-Mensah, Ghanian
Gladys N. Ozoude, Nigerian
Maria Rosario, Dominican Republic
Yaicinio Rojas Sanchez, Colombian
Kyung Soo Shin, Korean
Raimundas Slizys, Lithuanian
David Triestanto, Indonesian
Veronica Y. Tsang, Chinese (Queens)
Domitila Valenzuela, Guatemalan
Valentina Zuzic, Croatian