By Sister Suzanne Schreiber, OP
November 17, 2016, Detroit – Sister Mary Lou Putrow, OP, was recognized as one who exemplifies the phrase, “Change the World with a Giving Heart,” the theme for the 25th Annual National Philanthropy Day dinner in Detroit.
She was one among many who were recognized as Distinguished Volunteers during the event, hosted by the Greater Detroit Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The dinner was November 12 at Cobo Hall in Detroit.
Sister Mary Lou was nominated by Sister Janice Brown, Director of the Dominican Literacy Center (DLC) in Detroit, for her kind and consistent service. “Balancing the checkbook, taking care of the front desk when needed, and tutoring – these are some of the ways Mary Lou brings life and support to the Center,” Sister Janice said. “She is amazing in the ways she gives so unassumingly and generously.”
Sister Mary Lou also initiated a project that enabled DLC students to tell their stories, many of which conveyed their life struggles. In several interviews with each one, Sister Mary Lou listened with reverence to details about what brought them to the DLC, where they are on the path of learning and growing. The stories were published in a booklet to share with family and friends and to inspire other students.
The DLC is one of seven literacy centers founded and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters under the umbrella of Dominican Rea Literacy Corporation. The first of the seven, the DLC, was founded in 1989.
By Sister Mary Lou Putrow, OP
June 20, 2016, Port Huron, Michigan – When Mayor Pauline M. Repp of Port Huron, Michigan, declared that so many people had never before been in attendance at the Annual Spirit of Port Huron Awards Ceremony, little did she know that 90 percent of the attendees were from Holy Trinity Parish. They came in support and tribute to Sister Gloria Korhonen, one of two recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Spirit of Port Huron Awards Program was established to recognize citizens who had made a significant contribution to the city. Sister Gloria was among 11 award recipients at the 2016 event, held in the late afternoon of June 13 after a reception at McMorran Lounge.
The Lifetime Achievement Award “bestows special recognition on the rare individual who has consistently and unselfishly given an extraordinary amount of time and personal effort over the course of many years toward the betterment of their community.”
City Council member Rico Ruiz, in presenting the award to Sister Gloria, noted her 53 years of service as music and religious formation teacher at St. Joseph Church in Port Huron – which has since merged with others to become Holy Trinity Parish. Mr. Ruiz – himself a former student of Sister Gloria’s – described her work in collaborating with Grace Episcopal Church to present major vocal works to the community, as well as her key role in United We Sing events. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in special education from Wayne State University, Detroit.
“Sister Gloria has inspired many to choose a career path in music or pursue a devotion to music,” Mr. Ruiz noted. “Over the years, she has spent countless hours patiently directing and teaching the Chorale Choir and Celebration Singers. Most importantly, this has been done with a smile on her face.”
Mr. Ruiz concluded his tribute with commentary on Sister Gloria’s character. “She does not judge or carry prejudice,” he noted. “Sister Gloria is one of those rare, dedicated individuals who unselfishly gives of herself to others. We are all beneficiaries of her teaching and her contributions to the community.”
The love and admiration of Sister Gloria’s parishioners was unmistakable as the crowd gave her a standing ovation at her acceptance of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The parish celebration of Sister Gloria did not end with the ceremony. The parishioners had arranged for a special dinner in an exquisite setting at the Port Huron Township Elks Club. At the conclusion of the evening, the choir members serenated her in gentle harmony with a beautiful blessing. She was chauffeured home in the same style in which she had arrived at the ceremony – in an elegant, vintage car which appeared to be right of the Great Gatsby era.
Adrian Dominican Sisters Sue Schreiber, Janet Fulgenzi, and Mary Lou Putrow were privileged to be part of the celebration and to witness the deep appreciation and affection of the many parishioners for Sister Gloria and her ministry with them.