Iron Mountain parishioners receive Catholic service awards

The Diocese of Marquette is honoring outstanding women of faith
Barbara Karpus poses with Father Dominic Agyapong, pastor of St. Sebastian Parish in Bessemer,...
Barbara Karpus poses with Father Dominic Agyapong, pastor of St. Sebastian Parish in Bessemer, after receiving the Catholic Service Award. (LEFT) Joanie Richtig poses with Monsignor James Kaczmarek, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Iron Mountain, after receiving the Catholic Service Award. (RIGHT)(WLUC)
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 7:09 PM EDT
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IRON MOUNTAIN/BESSEMER, Mich. (WLUC) - The Diocese of Marquette says two outstanding women of faith, Jonie Richtig of Immaculate Conception Parish in Iron Mountian and Barbara Karpus of St. Sebastion Parish in Bessemer, have been chosen as this year’s recipients of the Catholic Service Award (CSA).

Joanie Richtig

Joanie Richtig poses with Monsignor James Kaczmarek, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in...
Joanie Richtig poses with Monsignor James Kaczmarek, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Iron Mountain, after receiving the Catholic Service Award.(WLUC)

Richtig is a retired English professor at Bay College West. Her service to her parish includes serving as coordinator of K-8 religious education, Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, Adult Folk Choir member, Children’s Choir director and a member of the Decorating Committee and Garden Committee.

In her letter of support for Richtig’s award nomination, Cathy Carobine wrote the following statement.

“I am personally indebted to Joanie because in 2017 she led our parish in participating in the anniversary of Fatima. This inspired me to pray the rosary daily which I continue, and therefore it has of course changed my life for the better,” said Carobine.

Illustrating her devotion to the Holy Family, Richtig leads the rosary before each Saturday afternoon Mass, and she organized a 33-day, at-home consecration study of St. Joseph during the year dedicated to Jesus’ foster father.

Monsignor James Kaczmarek, the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, spoke of the time he says Richtig gladly opened her home to a priest in need.

“Her most selfless gift has been the gift of compassion and care when she and her husband, John, assisted Father Ray Valerio in all his medical and personal needs during the last four months of his illness,” said Kaczmarek.

When Lisa Broman received the sacrament of Confirmation as an adult, Richtig was her sponsor.

“She takes her faith and commitment to growing my faith seriously,” Broman explained. “She was not only my sponsor; she taught the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes when Msgr. Kaz was unable to do so due to his neck injury. Her knowledge, wisdom, and compassion for the church and all it represents is truly inspirational.”

Richtig continues to share her enthusiasm for the faith with those within and beyond her own parish. Last year, she worked with the region’s vicar forane, Fr. Janusz Romanek, and The U.P. Catholic newspaper to spread the message, “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here,” for Pentecost. In addition, she invited the 36 pastors of non-Roman churches in Dickinson County to participate in the endeavor.

Barbara Karpus

Barbara Karpus poses with Father Dominic Agyapong, pastor of St. Sebastian Parish in Bessemer,...
Barbara Karpus poses with Father Dominic Agyapong, pastor of St. Sebastian Parish in Bessemer, after receiving the Catholic Service Award.(WLUC)

Perhaps her most well-known service to St. Sebastian Parish is Karpus’ 50-some years of playing the organ for Mass and funerals. In his CSA letter of endorsement, her pastor, Fr. Dominic Agyapong, pointed out something.

“What is so remarkable and worth saying is that she does not take any stipend or reimbursement from the parish either as an organist or any other services for all the years she has been in St. Sebastian’s parish, over 56 years,” said Agyapong.

Parish Council President, Peter Armichardy, explained that she is not afraid to get involved in all aspects of a ministry.

“Barbara has coordinated the pasty sales, which includes taking orders, making the pasty dough, and handling the money and pickup of the pasties. Barbara also cares for the altar linens and priest’s vestments,” said Armichardy.

Another talent she shares with the clergy is her culinary skills.

“She cooks meals when it is St. Sebastian’s turn to host a group of priests. She does this because she can,” noted Karpus’ friend, Margaret Boline. “When an outgoing pastor tells an incoming pastor, ‘If you need to know anything about St. Sebastian or need help, call Barbara Karpus,’ [you can tell] she is a real asset to St. Sebastian.”

In addition, Karpus has taken on leadership roles in many church and community groups, serving as president of the following organizations: St. Sebastian’s Parish Council for 19 years, St. Sebastian’s School Board for 17 years, St. Sebastian’s Parish Home and School Association for 24 years, the Ladies’ Guild for 20 years, and the Bessemer City Women’s Club for 27 years. She also taught high school religious education classes for more than 15 years.

Karpus is currently the regent of the local circle of the Daughters of Isabella, which is a charitable organization of Catholic women founded on the principle of its motto: unity, friendship and charity.

The Catholic Service Award is a program of the Legacy of Faith Endowment, a fund of the Upper Peninsula Catholic Foundation, Inc. It was created in 2006 in the spirit and mission of Legacy of Faith to preserve and foster the Catholic faith in the Upper Peninsula. Awardees receive recognition in their parish and at the annual diocesan Bishop Ambassadors’ dinner for their lifetime dedication and service to the Catholic Church. In addition, a $250 grant is provided in honor of the recipients to a diocesan organization or ministry of their choice.

CSA nominations are due every year by May 1. More information can be found at: www.upcatholicfoundation.org/catholic-service-awards.