Archbishop Leonard P. Blair shakes hands with Margaret Calamita of St. Ambrose Parish in North Branford and awards her the St. Joseph Medal of Appreciation during a ceremony on March 31 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. One of 129 volunteers honored for exemplary service, Calamita currently volunteers as a funeral ministry leader, lector and Alpha Team member for her parish. (Photo by Aaron Joseph)

Story by Shelley Wolf

Pastors know they could never run their parishes without the hard work of committed parish volunteers. That’s why more than 100 priests turned out on March 31 to congratulate the many volunteers who were recognized with the St. Joseph Medal of Appreciation at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair awarded 129 parish volunteers — including individuals and married couples — drawn from 131 parishes and quasi-parishes for their commendable service.

The cathedral was filled to overflowing with the medal recipients, the pastors who nominated them for special recognition, and the honorees’ family and friends.

Each year, recipients give of their time and talent to enhance their parish communities in numerous ways. Many have volunteered in multiple capacities over the years. Some have served for decades.

Archbishop Blair, the principal celebrant at the daytime prayer service, thanked the honorees, invited everyone to join him in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, then blessed the Saint Joseph medals and awarded the recipients. At the conclusion of the service, the honorees were invited to have their photos taken with the archbishop.