Diocesan News

Diversity Celebrated at 2022 CMS Shining Star Award Dinner

  • The Shining Star recipients were honored for their role as “an example to others of the value of hard work, patience, and fidelity to their culture and identity.” (Photos: John Quaglione)

CONEY ISLAND — Catholic Migration Services conducted the first of two awards dinners Friday, Sept. 30, at Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island to honor the recipients of this year’s Shining Star Awards. 

The awards are presented to honorees in the Diocese of Brooklyn’s ethnic ministries for their service to the Church in Brooklyn and Queens as “an example to others of the value of hard work, patience, and fidelity to their culture and identity.”

Bishop Robert Brennan, assisted by Father Patrick Keating, chief executive officer of Catholic Migration Services, made the presentations.

The honorees’ backgrounds were global, including Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Ukrainian, Polish, Mexican, Bangladeshi Guatemalan, and Garifuna. Many of their families, friends, and fellow parishioners attended the gala dressed in ethnic garb and cheered enthusiastically when their honoree was announced.    

Bishop Brennan, who was presiding at his first Shining Stars event, told the award winners that “every one of you enriches our community so very much, throughout our parishes in Brooklyn and Queens, yet we also see that unity in our faith and our desire to share Jesus.”

Among the night’s honorees were Marco and Gladis Villatoro, a couple who shared the 2022 Guatemalan Shining Star award. They attend Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary church in Jamaica, Queens, and are active in the Community Outreach Program, one of the reasons they were chosen to be honored. 

CMS said the Villatoros thanked “God for all they’ve been given and pray for the strength to continue their services to and for the community.”

Oksana Horobets, an apostolate for the Ukrainian Ministry at St. Mark in Brooklyn, was the recipient of the Ukrainian Shining Star Award. She gave thanks to the diocese “for the wonderful idea of bringing the immigrants together so they can hear the Good News in their native languages.”

Another honoree, Lesly Arzu Colon, is a parishioner at Our Lady of the Presentation-Mercy Parish in Brooklyn, where she serves as an apostolate to the Garifuna Ministry.

She said the Church “has contributed to a closer relationship with God and fellow parishioners, along with [supporting her] culture and background as a young Garifuna woman growing up in New York.”

Father Keating told the awardees that “each and every one of us is created in the image and likeness of God, and we see that great diversity, but we also see that unity tonight.” 

“We see the joyfulness of all cultures, all languages celebrated today, and as we come together to honor truly special individuals,” he added. “What makes us great is that we all come from somewhere, but we are united in our faith in Jesus Christ.” 

The Sept. 30 event was the first of two Shining Stars 2022 dinners; the second is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 7, also at Gargiulo’s Restaurant.