Catholic San Francisco


(Photo by Christina Gray/Catholic San Francisco).

Beth Livoti of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Novato pictured on Dec. 1 while decorating the parish hall for the annual parish Christmas party.

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Parishes honor Catholic ‘Women of the Year’
December 13th, 2016
By Christina Gray

Fourteen women from parishes in all three counties of the Archdiocese of San Francisco were recognized by their pastors and by the San Francisco Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women for their significant contributions to parish life in the 2016 Women of the Year Awards.

The ACCW is the local chapter of the National Council of Catholic women which supports, empowers and educates all Catholic Women in spirituality, leadership and service, according to its website. Its programs respond with Gospel values to the needs of the church and society in the modern world.

Local council president Cathy Milbach of Holy Name of Jesus Parish told Catholic San Francisco on Nov. 30 that the organization sent a letter to nearly 300 priests and parish organizations earlier this year asking them to nominate outstanding Catholic women in their parishes. The 14 nominations received were honored as ‘Catholic Women: Instruments of Mercy’ at the council’s fall conference in October.

Following are the winners with a brief excerpt from their pastor’s nomination.

Nancy Clarkin
Our Lady of the Pillar Parish, Half Moon Bay
“Nancy is the backbone of our St. Vincent de Paul Society. She runs the food pantry three days a week and coordinates other annual activities,” said Father Joseph Previtali, administrator. She is a frequent communicant, attends adult education classes and serves the parish in many ways, he said, and takes the Blessed Mother as her inspiration. “She is a holy wife to her husband, Thomas, and a spiritual mother to many.”

Teadora de la Cruz
Holy Name of Jesus Parish, San Francisco
“Teodora epitomizes the strong and valiant women of the Bible,” said Father Arnold Zamora, pastor. Since retiring from a career in social work, she has spent her retirement years in the service of parishioners, he said. She is active in the Hospitality ministry, organizing jubilee celebrations and receptions after Mass for the sick and homebound and for Filipino-American events. She provides breakfast for volunteer church housecleaners every Saturday morning. “Every Tuesday since 1991, after the 7:30 a.m. Mass she takes the bus to help out at St. Anthony’s dining room.

Carmella Da San Marino
St. Veronica Parish, South San Francisco
“Even at 89 years-old, Carmella is on the grounds almost daily,” said Father Charles Puthota, pastor. She is one of three parish sacristans, who rotate assisting with weekday Masses, funerals and other events, takes care of the parish flowers and plants and runs the weekly after-Mass hospitality with her husband. “Carmella also assists the priest at the monthly Mass at Westborough Royale, a senior living facility, is a eucharistic minister and lector and brings Holy Communion to the homebound,” he said.

Lorna Feria
Star of the Sea Parish, San Francisco
“Overcome with sadness over many children’s lack of knowing Christ, Lorna has taken a very active leadership role in the Children’s Religious Education program at the parish, according to Father Joseph Illo, parish administrator. She is a member of the parish council and leads one of San Francisco’s largest Filipino parish groups. “Within her active roles, she has shown many children how to serve Christ in the poorest of the poor with the help of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity,” he said

Rosario Lapuz
Church of the Epiphany, San Francisco
The Lapuz family are long-time parishioners of the Church of the Epiphany and Rosario has served in multiple volunteer capacities according to Father Eugene Tungol, pastor. Presently she is the Grief Ministry Coordinator for the large Excelsior District parish, which averages two to three funerals a week. “She and her committee try to alleviate as much turmoil as possible associated with the grieving period,” he said. She serves as lector, eucharistic minister, altar server and instructs visiting clergy and assists funeral attendants. “She also follows up with grieving families after the funeral.”

Beth Livoti
St. Anthony of Padua, Novato
Beth is a truly active member of the St. Anthony parish community according to Father Felix Lim, pastor. She has chaired the rummage sale for 10 years, is involved in the Faith Formation program, the Community Life Council and served as the chairperson for the first annual Christmas Gala. “She is active in the Safeway Shopping Program, bringing groceries to elders who cannot leave their homes,” he said. She and her husband, Lou, were instrumental in the creation of the Marin Villages Program which helps seniors with services that allow them to remain in their homes.

Rita Mazzei
St. Cecilia Parish, San Francisco
Rita has been a parishioner for 30 years, volunteering as eucharistic minister and church sacristan for daily Mass as well as for funerals. “I have been impressed with Rita’s ability to show tender caring for our grieving families,” said Msgr. Michael D. Harriman, pastor. It’s not only that she prepares everything for the funeral Mass, he said, she also gives guidance to altar servers before, during and after the funeral Mass. “She has been a blessing to our parish in our ministry to those who have lost their loved ones.”

Vilma Recinos Merlos
St. Finn Barr Parish, San Francisco
Vilma joined the parish in 1976, served on the first parish council and headed the first parish festival. “After realizing the many ministries that make up a parish community, she joined the Altar Society and her crew have enhanced the church environment for many years,” said Father William McCain, pastor. Vilma was a leader in the Renew Movement and started a weekly Bible study called “Jesus Esta Vivo.” She is involved with Project Rachel, helping victims of abortion toward reconciliation.

Carmen Ochoa
St. Francis of Assisi Parish, East Palo Alto
Carmen has been a longtime sacristan and has assisted with marriage preparation. “Her principal value to our parish has been her excellent leadership, mainly by example, in the successful charismatic movement at St. Francis with many noteworthy results,” said Father Lawrence Goode, pastor. She is an extremely prayerful person, he said, and she helps at social events and is a master at arranging and re-arranging flowers. “She is a great mother of a fine family as well.”

Marian Previtali
St. Sebastian Parish, Greenbrae
Marian has served her family, parish and the Catholic Church for many years. “Now as head of the parish council, she continues to assist St. Sebastian’s by planning pilgrimages for parishioners to visit special sites in the archdiocese,” said Father Mark Taheny, pastor. “She continues to guide the young children and their parents in preparation for their first confession and first Holy Communion,” he said. Her son Joseph, is a priest of the archdiocese.

Lety Simpliciano Tomas
St. John the Evangelist Parish, San Francisco
Lety has been involved in parish life for many years,” said Father Agnel de Heredia, pastor. She has taught baptism preparation for new parents and godparents and has been a facilitator of a Renew Faith sharing group, a lector, a eucharistic minister and PTG president and treasurer. The certified master catechist teaches first Communion and confirmation classes and finds time to distribute food for the needy as a volunteer at the Mission YMCA.

Dolores Tulkoff
St. Ignatius Parish, San Francisco
“Across two and a half decades, Dolores has become one of the pillars of the parish community,” said Jesuit Father Greg Bonfiglio, pastor. She has sponsored several new parishioners in the RCIA process and is deeply involved in the liturgy and worship serving as lector, acolyte, eucharistic minister and Mass lead. She is on the Worship Commission, the Liturgy Planning and Environment Committee and co-coordinates the annual Novena of Grace. “We are beneficiaries of Dolores’ optimism, joyfulness and generosity, fruits of her vibrant relationship with the Lord,” he said.

Flora Sinajon
St. Brendan Parish, San Francisco
“Flora has made unparalleled contributions to the life of St. Brendan’s,” said Father Roger Gustafson, pastor. She has worked in the parish office for 15 years and as parish operations manager, has worked tirelessly to ensure parish operations run smoothly. She works with families to schedule weddings and funerals and ensures that all financial operations are transparent and well managed. “She prepares the bulletins week after week to make sure all parishioners are well informed about the many events at the parish,” he said, and works diligently behind the scenes.

Catherine Steinbach
St. Anne of the Sunset Parish, San Francisco
Catherine has been active at both the church and school for more than 15 years in addition to her “real job” as a geriatric nurse specialist, according to Father Daniel Nacimento, pastor. She has served as secretary, treasurer, vice president and president of the St. Anne’s Parent Association and has served the school Endowment Fund Board. She has organized alumni and other events including the Crab Bash Fundraiser, has coached girls and boys baseball and is a member of the church finance committee.

For information on how to join the San Francisco Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, contact Cathy Mibach at or call (415) 753-0234. Membership is $10.

From December 15, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.

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