St. Mary Mother of God Parish is proud to present the Sharing the Life of Christ Award to Joe Miller. Joe is known for his unwavering work for the poor including the ministries of Miss Virginia’s Food Pantry and Christmas Box program. On Sunday, January 7th Father Wimal Jayasuriya presented the award to Joe with the following words.
This year’s St. Mary Mother of God Parish Sharing the Light of Christ award recipient was an educator by vocation, and he was good at it. He was able to make even the most troubled students feel good about themselves, and, as he worked in significant volunteer projects, he involved students from around the area, truly caring for them as individuals, not just how effectively they were helping to get the job done. His efforts have helped to enhance St. Mary’s as an incubator for good works around Fort Wayne.
Our recipient and his wife were godparents for numerous grandchildren and others, and he was one of the few lectors and cantors at the 8 am Mass in the old church. His children remember getting up very early to drive past numerous other churches to get to St. Mary’s for Mass. More recently he sang in our choir, and he is still a lector.
For many years he was in charge of our Christmas Box program, organizing food drives in area high schools, picking up donated food, and organizing volunteers to assemble the boxes and help with the sign up and distribution. He was also the director of Miss Virginia’s, making use of his extensive local contacts to ensure that those seeking help had ample healthy food available every day the food pantry was open.
He was dedicated to preserving the dignity of those being served, and he worked hard to upgrade the physical facilities—porch, office, shelving, countertops.
Supported by his wife, he was a doting father to his three daughters, and he was a master builder. Legend has it that at least one (maybe more) prospective son-in-law was “invited” to work with him on summer construction jobs!
The list of his involvements and accomplishments goes on and on, but it is the tribute from his children that will likely mean the most to him:
“Dad taught us that church is a community; it is more than learning prayers and going through the motions. This is why we go to St Mary’s. St Mary’s has never been the closest church or the easiest church for us to go to. We all drive about half an hour to get here. We are here because of the community, because of the ministries. Helping at the Soup Kitchen, the Christmas Box, Miss Virginia’s, etc. is what being part of the Universal church means.
“Our parents taught us to love and respect all people regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what they look like.
“Though this award is a great honor, Dad would say that the honor really is in serving others and the common good. It is nourishing the bodies but also the spirits of others. That is the greatest award. “
We are pleased to present our parish’s 2023 Sharing the Light of Christ award to Joe Miller.