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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

CHARLOTTE — Father John Eckert, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury, was recently honored with the St. John Paul II Award from the Diocese of Charlotte Youth Ministry Office, for his work in teaching and guiding youth at his parish and Sacred Heart School, and in the diocese.

His “commitment and love for the youth is something to be recognized,” wrote one person who nominated him for the award. Another wrote in support of his nomination, “He helps the youth grow in their faith while being a fun, sometimes competitive, presence at our events, even after a long Sunday full of doing multiple Masses.”

In addition, the Bishop Michael J. Begley Award was given to Noé Sifuentes of Salisbury. The award recognizes, from the diocesan level, outstanding teens who exemplify Christian service, Catholic leadership and good moral standards. The 2017 Jesse C. Carson High School graduate is active at Sacred Heart Parish in the youth group, as an altar server, and as a faith formation teacher. “Noé is an amazing individual who is an essential part of the Sacred Heart community ... and has an incredibly deep faith,” stated one nominating letter.

Dominican Sister Edeva Jover, who serves at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Charlotte, was given the Bishop William G. Curlin Award for her commitment to youth ministry and active service – not only at her parish but at the diocesan level. “She is amazing at leading teens and always creates a joyful and peaceful atmosphere around her,” stated one nominating letter. “Sister Edeva is an amazing youth minister and I admire the hard work she puts into her ministry.”

Joseph Spillane of St. Pius X Church, a 2017 graduate of Bishop McGuinness High School in Kernersville, also received the Bishop William G. Curlin Award. Said one nominating letter, “He has served as an example to his peers (and his teachers) of grace in the face of adversity.” Another wrote, “From volunteering at faith formation, his excellent service at the altar, helping with confirmation retreats and preparation, being a peer minister at his high school, Joseph appears ready to give of himself, share our faith and live the love of Jesus in a very vibrant way.”

Grace Rybak, Christopher Silvestri and Carlos Mata received the St. Timothy Award for outstanding youth discipleship.