The 2013 Franciscan International Award dinner was a hit. A sold-out room of 400 enjoyed an evening filled with fun, stories and laughter as Gina Tupy, Director of Confirmation and Senior High Ministry for the Church of St. Michael in Prior Lake was honored as the 55th recipient of the Franciscan International Award. Former pastor of St. Michael’s, Father Rick Banker, served as Co-Master of Ceremonies for the evening. (Fr. Rick hired Gina 28 years ago.) Pat Millea, Director of High School Faith Formation at St. Michael’s, and a close collaborator of Gina’s, served as Co-MC.
One of the more touching moments of the evening occurred when Fr. Jim Kent.,OFM Conv., Minister Provincial, read a letter from Archbishop Emeritus, Harry J. Flynn. “Gina, you have been an outstanding Catholic Christian leader. You have excelled with skills in teaching the young about the things of God, by blending spirituality with fun and laughter.” Fr. Jim also spoke of Gina’s long friendship with the late Bro. Bruno Nemcosky, OFM Conv.. Bruno often helped Gina with youth programs at St. Michael’s, and many of the men and women whom Bruno and Gina inspired in their youth were present as adults for the evening. Fr. Camillus Gott, OFM Conv., a member of the province definitory, who had worked with Gina on many youth programs when he was stationed at Prior Lake, presented the Award with enthusiasm and a few tears—tears of joy, that is.
Gina had the crowd on the edges of their seats with lively stories of the genesis of many of the youth programs at St. Michael’s, and the people she persuaded (or more likely cajoled) into helping her launch them. Her Irish wit was in abundance as she traced the beginnings of her work with young people. In her acceptance remarks, Gina accepted the Award in the name of all the many people who had worked with her over the years to build up the Youth Ministry program at St. Michael’s. Gina’s 10-year old grandson, Sam Tupy, who is blind, wrapped up the evening with spirited singing and commentary.
The Franciscan International Award Dinner, one of the major fundraisers for Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center, is a lovely chance to dress up a little and enjoy a relaxing evening with friends while supporting a great local cause. Thank you to all who attended. And if you didn’t make it this year, consider coming to next year’s dinner on Thursday May 8th of 2014.