St. Joseph the Worker Shrine

St. Joseph Christian Worker Recognition Award

St. Joseph the Worker Shrine in the 60th anniversary year (2016) of its formal dedication as an inner-city spiritual oasis (the established Oblate foundation here dates back to 1868) launched what would become an annual Christian Worker Recognition Award.

Awardees are folks in the greater-Lowell area who have demonstrated the Christian values of faith, humility and outreach to the marginalized in their personal lives as well as integrity, respect and service in the workplace.

The awardees are men/women who in various ways embody the values of St. Joseph:  a just, honest and self-sacrificing person but also a courageous man.  Through his resolute action, he demonstrated his faith, love and acceptance of God’s will - under challenging and even dangerous circumstances.  Joseph took on immense responsibility humbly and without hesitation.

Nomination Forms for St. Joseph Christian Worker Recognition Award

2023 - Dr. Rebecca Duda, Thomas Santosuosso

Dr. Rebecca Duda, Fr. Michael Amesse

Dr. Rebecca Duda’s many positions of responsibility has included her current one as Enrollment  Coordinator for the Lowell Public Schools, serving as the School Department’s liaison with Federal agencies to implement the Federal Homeless Act with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Rebecca has a keen ability to understand families in need – to wit: A family arrives at the office on Friday at 3:00 pm. It’s snowing heavily. They have 3 children, no car and were put out of their apartment - they have no-where to go. All agencies are closing due to the bad weather. Rebecca solicits staff ideas to get this family sheltered, even ideas that involve paying out of staff pockets. Her leadership strategizes ways to keep this family safe. Her compassion leads the way.

Dr. Duda exemplifies compassion and concern for those who come for assistance and her staff take their cues from her. Educational endeavors have marked her professional life – from teaching at the primary and secondary levels to her current adjunct professorship at UMass Lowell, lecturing in her field of American History. She is on the Dracut School Committee, involved in devising and implementing programs to enhance teaching and learning. She presents professional development workshops and hosts community learning sessions to better discern issues of concern to parents. Rebecca has won countless awards for her outstanding work as an educator.

Finally, volunteerism is part of Rebecca’s Social DNA. She supports local businesses though the “Monday Night Dinner Club”; she encouraged and sponsored youths to rediscover their religious roots; she offers technical expertise maintaining the Shrine’s Digital Bulletin Board; she produces history pieces for The Lowell Sun and hosts a local history program on Dracut cable TV. A compilation of her core attributes would include award winning educator, attentive listener, creative problem solver, effective collaborator, visionary thinker, program manager and a goal-driven empathetic leader. Most importantly, as one nominator put it, “By virtue of her faith, she adds so much purpose to her life and all the lives she touches.”

Pictured from left, Darcy Santosuosso, Thomas Santosuosso, Fr. Michael Amesse

Thomas Santosuosso, Jr. is an aircraft mechanic for Delta Airlines working out of Logan Airport in Boston. How he became interested in the field of aircraft mechanics is illustrative of his character and dutiful dedication. He wanted to better himself and his potential future family. He didn’t feel he could do that as an automobile mechanic.

He moved to Vermont, lived in his car and pursued his A&P license. He lived humbly for years denying himself the comforts many of us take for granted. He didn’t listen to the naysayers and followed the stick-to-itiveness of his Catholic faith to better himself. Now, as an aircraft mechanic, he is attentive to his coworkers on a nightly basis.

He followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit one night to check on one of his coworkers, whom he found to be completely overwhelmed by the amount of tasks he had been assigned. With Tom’s help, they were able to render the aircraft ready to depart on time in the morning. He also regularly volunteers to mentor new mechanics as they are hired. They trust Tom and know that they can rely on him for help.

He also volunteers for the A220 Aircraft Team, flying to different locations around the country to contribute to Team input sessions. The A220 is an aircraft new to Delta Airlines. Tom helps explain the maintenance manuals and puts forward suggestions to improve the overall operation of the Teams. Many of the older mechanics avoid the A220 since it is a newer aircraft and the find mastery of its particulars almost overwhelming. Tom is known for volunteering to troubleshoot the problem issues and help resolve them – many other mechanics shy away from such problematic issues.

Tom works the overnight shift, but still makes time for his wife; he works weekends as well. His wife, Darcy, often has to stop herself from nagging him at the Sunday morning Mass at St. Joseph’s for being tired or dozing off at times. The context sets everything in proper perspective – St. Joseph the Worker Shrine. St. Joseph worked for his family, was tired as well and heard the promptings of the Holy Spirit through dreams. Tom is exactly where he needs to be.

Tom volunteers to serve at many ACTS Retreats and has served as Retreat Team Leader. When he happens upon fellow retreatants, there is always a good deal of joyful comradery in the encounters. Tom makes it a habit of alternating among area parishes for Sunday Mass – as per his work schedules and deliberately to avoid getting into too comfortable routines. In all sincerity, Tom regularly declares that he does not work for the paycheck; the paycheck is just a small benefit for a job well done!

2022 - Ed Oliveri

Pictured from left, Fr. Ron Meyer, Ed Oliveri, Fr. Michael Amesse

Over the past 20 years at St. Margaret of Scotland parish, Ed Oliveri has served as Eucharistic Minister at Mass and has brought the Eucharist to many who are home bound. He is a senior altar server, President of the St. Vincent DePaul chapter in the parish and is involved with the Cardinal’s annual appeal. Ed is a Virtus instructor. He has organized many food drives and participates in outreach ministry, providing meals to those in need through the St. Paul’s Soup Kitchen in Lowell. In the aftermath of Covid, for 18 months, Ed dutifully recorded registrations that allowed for parish Mass attendance.

Ed has organized and helps direct the Men of St. Joseph men’s group. He is greatly involved in the ACTS Retreat movement – on Teams as well serving as a Director. He has also served on the ACTS CORE organizational body.

Ed is also very involved in many activities at the Shrine of St. Joseph the Worker where he fulfills a variety of liturgical roles as needed at Mass – server, lector, etc. As an Oblate Associate, he also assists with the on-site Oblate Historical Museum. He is readily available to lend a hand with special activities and celebrations that occur there from time to time.

Ed has also helped countless people in need, providing personal support and transportation to them. He donates time and talent to countless organizations no one knows about. He has provided meals for veterans. He has purchased Christmas toys in support of the Lowell Boys Club and similar holiday efforts in behalf of a few other local organizations.

Ed is a graduate of Northeastern University - a Realtor by profession (ERA Key Real Estate) adept at serving both buyers and sellers.He excels in that field – achieving and maintaining the highest level of producer status in the ERA organization. He is notable in his work ethic and conscientious in conducting his business, receiving frequent commendations from his employer and clients. When buying a home, folks are vulnerable and anxious about what is transpiring and to which they are committing so much of their treasure; Ed’s easy-going temperament can’t help but put them as ease and the honesty he manifests in his dealings with them surely results in many happy sales and satisfied new owners. 

2021 - Nancy Humphrey

Pictured from left, Jessica Humphrey, Randall Humphrey, Alexa Wisdom, Mrs. Nancy Humphrey, Fr. Michael Amesse, Dr. Rebecca Duda

Mrs. Nancy Humphrey has been a lifelong educator. After her graduation from college, she took a position in the Wilmington Public Schools teaching grade 5. After several years in Wilmington, she took a position at Lowell High School ultimately becoming a guidance counselor where she advised students on post-high school plans and wrote numerous letters of recommendation for college applications. 

After retirement from the Lowell Public Schools, Nancy returned to work for the school district as a part-time McKinney-Vento Family Liaison, ensuring that the school district fulfills the provisions of the McKinney-Vento Education Act. This Federal act was passed by Congress to help protect the rights of homeless students. Its purpose is to break down barriers which hinder homeless children from accessing their public education. 

Since taking on her new role, Nancy has worked tirelessly to serve the over 1,200 homeless students, and their families, in the Lowell Public Schools. She identifies disadvantaged families living in homeless shelters, motels, or doubled up with friends or relatives. She helps them get the records they needtation needed for enrollment. She serves the whole family by getting them clothing from Catie’s Closet, food, school supplies, and other basic household items (often out of her own pocket!). Nancy connects families with community resources so that they understands option for housing or employment opportunities. Many families served are from Brazil and she is learning basic Portuguese so that she can better serve this community.

Nancy serves some of our most vulnerable families. Some are escaping domestic violence situations, others have walked all the way from Central America with only the clothing on their backs. Still others have fallen on hard times and cannot support themselves financially. Nancy is there, at virtually any hour of the day, to assist them.  Her work does not stop when her shift ends.

Throughout her career - as both teacher and guidance counselor - she's worked to help her students and families achieve their educational goals. Now, she has chosen to use her retirement as an opportunity to continue to serve others through her work.  

2020 - Donna Desmond, RN

Donna Desmond went into nursing 34 years ago, and she has managed to balance her life as a nurse, wife and mother of five beautiful children in an exemplary way. Donna embodies the criteria of a Christian worker who serves as a minister of God’s love within her community 
Donna is currently a nurse manager at Lowell General Hospital Saints Campus.  During this year, she has been a critical care nurse in the ICU and now manages the Intermediate Care Department at Saints. During the past several months, Donna has managed over 65 medical professionals in the treatment and care of COVID-19 patients.  She has worked tirelessly seven days a week, sometimes 12 hours a day to bring special care to her patients.  When there were shortages on particular shifts, Donna would quietly cover as a care nurse, showing her dedication to her patients and her co-workers. COVID-19 has presented many medical challenges as well as emotional stresses to the doctors, nurses and caregivers.  Donna has handled all of it with grace, and she approaches each day with a strong faith and a positive outlook. 
Donna has been married to David Desmond for over 30 years. They are the proud parents of two grown daughters, Molly and Emily, and three mature boys, Thomas, Daniel and Jacob. Their oldest son, Daniel, is a non-verbal autistic child who has attended various special schools.  Donna and David have faced tremendous challenges with Daniel and as a family they have remained steadfast in their faith and love for God and for each other.  They have made sacrifices and adjustments at every turn, always doing what is best for their family’s future.  She has faced difficult challenges, yet she never makes excuses, never stops moving forward – she is courageous in her journey and continues to help others every day. 

2019 - Sandra Patenaude,  Dottie & Mike McDermott

Sandra Patenaude has been a life-long member of St. Marguerite D’Youville parish in Dracut, MA and a frequent worshipper in the faith community that gathers at St. Joseph the Worker Shrine in Lowell, MA. Sandra espouses the social gospel, reaching out to the disadvantaged, oftentimes at the expense of her own well-being. She has managed this while single-handedly providing for her family while employed at Raytheon corporation; even in the workplace, she manages to touch the lives of those around her as her coworkers would readily testify.

 Before dedicating her life to that of family and work, Sandra Patenaude was already working to better the lives of the less fortunate.  As a 20 year old woman, she led multiple Catholic youth groups whose aim was to give under-privileged young adults the opportunity to complete their First Communion and Confirmation. She readily accepted to work with some youths who were deemed “problematic” and through her compassionate outreach, showing them respect and giving them important responsibilities in the program, those youngsters had a rebirth as Christian young men and women.

Over the course of her life, Sandra has participated in many forms of service, the full details of which would fill many pages. She has crafted gift baskets for children during the Christmas season so that they could experience the loving warmth of the Child Jesus. Undeterred by danger, she has set foot into correctional facilities, to share the faith with men seeking guidance and repentance.  Driven by the Spirit, she spent time in India to help the poor and volunteered to work at the world-renowned Mother Teresa Home for the Dying.  These grand acts of kindness do not overshadow the multiple daily, almost instinctive small acts of kindness that characterize her life. While driving home, she once noticed a homeless man on the side of the road – he was being scorned by many: unbathed and having soiled himself. Without hesitation and seeing through the injustice of it all, she approached the man and gave him the last of the cash she had in her wallet. Scorned by the bystanders for this “waste” of money that would surely be misused, she responded by saying, “what does it matter what he spends it on? If there is the slightest potential that he can put it to better use than I can, then so be it!” She was subsequently amazed to discover that that monetary donation inexplicably reappeared in her possession! God rewards those who strive to help those in need, no matter the person, situation or consequences!

To reiterate, all of the above and much more, was performed while painstakingly providing for her family and raising her child to be similarly righteous, selfless and compassionate – such that through her sacrifice, the torch of service to one’s neighbor could continue to illuminate the world. Sandra certainly epitomizes St. Joseph’s creed: resolute action demonstrating strong faith, love and acceptance of God’s will under challenging and even dangerous circumstances.

Dotti McDermott has been a practicing Catholic for most of her life and is currently a communicant of St. William’s parish in Tewksbury, MA along with her husband, Mike. She has also been an active member in her parish over the years – serving in various roles: she has served as Eucharistic Minister, lector, and has been involved in music ministry.  Additionally, Dotti has taught religious education for over 20 years and is active in the ACTS community; in addition to directing ACTS retreats, she has served with great distinction on the ACTS Core Team.

Dotti earned her license in nursing in 1978 and has worked tirelessly in this field.  She views her career as a Christ-called vocation, demonstrating her compassion and dedication every day.

She currently is employed by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, using her comprehensive nursing experience to serve as the Clinical Director at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Residence in Tewksbury, MA.  In addition to managing this skilled nursing/assisted living facility for retired priests and brothers of the Oblate Order, Dotti also works to help Oblates throughout the USA Province to achieve their wellness outcomes.  She has a deep appreciation for the Religious Life of the Oblates and working in this capacity has given Dotti numerous opportunities for spiritual growth – she is as devoted to the Oblates as they are to their mission.

Mike McDermott, a life-long communicant at St. William’s parish in Tewksbury, MA. In his youth he served as an altar server and was an active member of the CYO. He married his high school sweetheart after graduating and enlisted in the Air Force - for 4 years he served in Arkansas as an environmental engineer before returning to Massachusetts.

For over 40 years, he passionately accepted opportunities to serve his parish community as a Eucharistic Minister and as a leading member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He became an advocate of the ACTS Retreat movement and has helped develop the ACTS community locally and promoted it by joining in mission trips.

After his military discharge, Mike earned his degree in Business Management and went on to work in the high-tech industry – he did this for many years before acknowledging that he was called to those in need instead of cultivating the “bottom line.” He currently works for Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley as a Certified Dementia Practitioner – there he ensures that people with dementia and their families have access to the resources needed for their journey through this emotionally trying disease. Working in tandem with his wife Dotti, the Clinical Director of the Oblate Infirmary, he has been able to offer much advice and counsel for the proper care of Oblates in their latter days.

Dotti and Mike have been married for 43 years and are blessed with 3 children and 1 grandson.

2018 - Albert Daigle


Albert Daigle is the devoted husband of Thérèse – this year, they will be celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary. Al is the loving father of 7 children and the doting grandfather to 11 grandchildren. He is a daily communicant who has made the Shrine his weekday church home – he extends himself in service of his fellow-worshipers here by serving as lector, server, and usher, as needs arise.

For 60 years, Al has been a successful and conscientious businessman and Notary Public headquartered in Dracut. He is a respected Certified Public Accountant who combines an Insurance Agency and a Real Estate Brokerage in the array of services offered to the public – to prevent these ledger-keeping tasks from dulling the spirit, Al also maintains a commercial garden center adjacent to his offices. He makes time to smell the roses!

In his younger and formative years, Al graduated from Keith Academy and Bentley College; he served his country in the National Guard for 9 years. His civic engagements over the years have included the Dracut Rotary Club, the Lafayette Club and the Friends of D’Youville. He served as Grand Knight of the Dracut Knights of Columbus and has been a driving force animating the Franco-American Day Committee – he was named the 1982 Franco American Man of the Year by that same organization.

In his spare time over the years he engaged in even more outreach into the community, he volunteered to serve as Treasurer of the Acre Model Neighborhood Organization; got involved with the St. Jean Baptiste Preservation Committee and served on the St. Joseph Elementary School board and its VIP 1,000 Club.

This multi-talented and civically involved man even acceded to the role of a super-sleuth at one point (this is the stuff of legend in these parts); when an iconic and long-revered statue of St. Jean Baptiste (the patron of French Canadians) mysteriously disappeared from its eponymous church building during a major transition, Al was the one to connect all the dots; he successfully retrieved it and restored it to an honored place in the French Canadian community of Lowell.

Kudos to this generous man of faith for his model involvement and living of Gospel values.

2017 - Frank Stewart, Kevin Roy

Frank Stewart, a Master Electrician, is the owner of Stewart Electric Company and is a parishioner at St. Michael’s in North Andover.

Frank carries out his professional duties with a high degree of responsibility and unfailingly provides quality service – he has instilled those values in his employees who uniformly go beyond what is absolutely required, readily addressing other needs as they arise in the course of carrying-out their work – an unusual practice among tradesmen.

Frank is very generous in extending assistance to the Shrine of St. Joseph the Worker – when his crews do work here, labor costs are usually waived; “in-kind” donations of time and materials are most often the rule in his professional dealings with us. He has even loaned us heavy equipment gratis so that maintenance work can be done on the building’s exterior, an otherwise huge expense for the Shrine.

Frank generously and anonymously makes contributions to assist the needy who present themselves at the Shrine. Frank blesses our community by conducting his business as much with a view to community service as to realizing profits for his professional enterprise. We salute him.

Kevin Roy is a deputy sheriff in Middlesex County – he is well known among all his peers for treating all offenders coming into the Sheriff’s Office with a great deal of respect – going out of his way to uphold their dignity.

Kevin is also highly involved in helping to preserve and foster his ethnic heritage – a “shaker and mover” in advancing the works of a standing committee that annually mounts a city-wide Franco-American week of festivities. He has served as president of this Committee and was named “Franco-American Man of the year” for 2017.

Kevin has volunteered his carpentry skills: single handedly restoring and refurbishing a series of outdoor enclosures housing the Fourteen Stations of the Cross that form part of a landmark Grotto in the City.

Kevin is heading his home parish’s Anniversary Committee (St. Andrew Parish in North Billerica), next year preparing its 150th anniversary – the parish was founded by Oblate Father Andre Garin who established the Oblate presence in this area of New England. Kevin counts his wife and 5 young children as the center of his life and yet manages to enthusiastically dedicate time and talent to church, work, and community.

2016 Paul Demers, Karen Gallagher

Mr. Paul Demers was recognized for providing leadership always with respect to his employees at Paul Demers Towing and Service and Milltown Auto Sales. He treats his employees as “fellow workers” and pays a fair and current wage. He also treats his customers fairly and honestly, assisting those who have difficulty paying. Paul is a real person who does not try to “impress” people. Along with his work commitments, Paul always has time for his faith, Mass attendance, and charitable activities. He is very active in the Dracut Knights of Columbus. He has assisted with the winter coat drive and was instrumental in acquiring the Shrine’s new heating system as well as Shrine’s ceiling repairs after the winter of 2015/2016. Thanks to Paul Demers for demonstrating Christian values in the workplace. We also thank Marylou and Robert McInnis for nominating Mr. Demers.

Ms. Karen Gallagher has been recognized as an excellent nurse and goes over and above the duties of a nurse. In addition to her work ethic, she is a Eucharistic minister at Immaculate Conception, brings communion to our senior shut-ins, and has even brought meals to the home-bound when necessary. “She is always there when you need her.” Ms. Gallagher also was instrumental in establishing the diabetes clinic at Lowell General Hospital. Thanks to Ms. Gallagher for demonstrating Christian values through her work. We also thank Mr. Joseph Blanco for nominating Ms. Gallagher.