Diocese of Beaumont honors Giving Field founders

Curtis Guillory and George Okeahialam present Faithful Steward Award.

“Many of us are good stewards, but few are good stewards who take a vision and make it a reality that affects the young, the old and the needy.”

These were the first words in one of several submissions received by the Diocese of Beaumont nominating Msgr. Richard DeStefano Faithful Steward Award recipients Sharon Begnaud and Mary Mahlie, the founders of the Giving Field.

Begnaud and Mahlie had a vision of converting an empty one acre of property into a place where children could learn about gardening and help provide food for Southeast Texas families in need, the Diocese of Beaumont said in a press release. Through extraordinary hard work, they developed the Giving Field, a community garden near St. Anne School in Beaumont, seeing every aspect of the project through to completion from the planning process to planting the first seeds.

“The Giving Field at St. Anne Parish in Beaumont takes the very essence of Jesus’ mandates to ‘… feed the hungry’ to a reality,” one nomination said. “These two ladies have proven that one or two people can become an army for Jesus.”

The Msgr. Richard DeStefano Faithful Steward Award, named for Msgr. DeStefano, former director of stewardship, is for individuals who are examples of stewardship in the diocese. A total of 170 Southeast Texans were nominated for the award this year, and Begnaud and Mahlie were selected to receive the honor along with other stewards: Msgr. William Manger of St. Anne, Beaumont; Kevin Faircloth of Our Lady of the Pines, Woodville; Kim Tran of Queen of Vietnam, Port Arthur; and Curtis Jones (posthumously) of St. Mary, Fannett.

“From this group of nominations, the Stewardship Council attempted to select an individual whose stewardship was extraordinary. They found it impossible to select one, so this year we have six,” Letty Lanza, diocesan director of stewardship and communications, said during the 2013 Faithful Steward Awards and Reception held Aug. 25 at St. Jude Thaddeus Church in Beaumont. “Though this is the largest number of nominees we have ever had, they are just a small representation of the hundreds of good stewards we have.”

Additionally, the Bishop Curtis J. Guillory Parish Award, which recognizes a parish that has made leaps in stewardship on a parish level in the previous year, was presented to Our Mother of Mercy, Beaumont. A total of 13 parishes were nominated for the award this year.

The Diocesan Stewardship Council also selected the International Seafarers’ Centers of Beaumont and Port Arthur for its special award, recognizing the organization’s important service work in Southeast Texas.