Another story told by Catholic Extension recalls the time when Father Stu prayed over a woman who was told her unborn child would die. When she gave birth to a healthy baby, everyone was surprised — except Father Stu, who became the child’s godfather.
Joe Boland, the vice president of missions at Catholic Extension, called Father Stu a “unique posthumous nomination.”
“Any current and future award money will benefit Catholic ministries and programs in Montana that Fr. Stu was a part of and continue today,” Boland told CNA, such as support for seminarian education or support for the poor and families.
The six other finalists for the award are Gregory Crapo, the director of de l’Epee Deaf Center in Biloxi, Mississippi; Father Simon Peter Engurait and Karen David in Louisiana, who led relief efforts after Hurricane Ida in 2021; Sister Mary Lisa Renfer in Tennessee, whose mobile clinic ministers to low-income patients; Francis Leblanc in Louisiana, who helps young Black Catholics celebrate their faith and ministers through music; Deacon Casey Walker in California, who works to encourage dialogue in the Church; and Jean Fedigan, who founded Sister José Women’s Center, which ministers to homeless and trafficked women.
For the 45th annual Lumen Christi Award, “Extension dioceses” — U.S. Catholic dioceses that are isolated or financially under-resourced and receive funding from Catholic Extension — submitted 40 nominations for consideration.
Several of the award finalists have a personal connection to Catholic Extension, including Father Stu, who was nominated by the diocese of Helena, Montana. His education as a seminarian was supported by the Catholic non-profit and he also served at two parishes supported by Catholic Extension.
The seven award finalists will receive $10,000 to support and enhance their ministries, according to Catholic Extension. One of them will be selected as the Lumen Christi Award recipient and receive a $25,000 grant, along with an additional $25,000 grant for the nominating diocese.
The 2022-2023 award recipient will be announced in September, in the next edition of Extension magazine.
“All finalists would be worthy recipients, which is why each is rewarded with $10,000 to support their ministries,” Boland told CNA.
“Recipients are bearers of the light of Christi in their communities, as well as ignite the light of Christ in the hearts of others around them,” he concluded, “and finally they help show others where the light of Christ has always been present in their midst, even in the most challenging places and circumstances of life.”