LAKE OSWEGO — Members of Our Lady of the Lake Parish here bid farewell to two parish workers — one a straight-talking former businessman, the other a sweet-tempered nun who survived tribulation.
The diversity of gifts exhibited by Deacon Charles Corey and Holy Names Sister Janina Kokorowski fits this wide-ranging faith community. The parish held a farewell party last month and the air was full of high esteem from all kinds of people.
Father Joseph McMahon announced the departures to parishioners with "enormous gratitude and with sadness."
Corey is a retired IBM executive. He and wife Beth, involved at Our Lady of the Lake for 25 years, are relocating to Wilsonville to be near children and grandchildren. He is discerning future ministry.
As a member of the pastoral council, Corey initiated the long-range planning process and designed a stronger social outreach ministry. He chaired the committee that developed a 12-week seminar on Catholic social teaching. Corey has worked with St. Vincent de Paul and has been the parish representative for a transitional housing program.
Many parishioners value his homilies. Corey says his preaching was helped by having been a parishioner for so long and having lived a life like theirs.
"In a way, I was preaching to myself," he says.
He cites a good working relationship with Father McMahon and deep respect for the pastor and the people.
"Parishioners are very generous not only with their treasury but with their time," he says. " And not just in the parish but with charitable organizations. It's a very socially conscious parish."
Sister Janina, parish director of religious education for a decade, will continue on as a volunteer.
When she was a girl in a small Polish village during World War II, her family was deported to Nazi Germany to perform slave labor. For months, they lived in a one-room hut with no electricity or running water.
"We were lucky," she says. "We did not starve and were not in a concentration camp."
After the war ended, the Kokorowskis were placed on a warship bound for the United States and were welcomed by a Catholic parish in Seattle. Young Janina later entered a high school run by the Holy Names Sisters. She and the nuns were mutually impressed; she professed first vows in 1958 at age 19, got advanced schooling and began a teaching career in western Oregon and Washington.
With graduate degrees in education, theology, and family ministry, Sister Janina has shepherded children through preparation for sacraments and catechesis. She recruited a committee and has trained a corps of catechists. The result has been a Sunday morning religious education program, expanded family involvement in the preparation of children for first Communion and confession and several festivals.
During her last three years, she also led the team that prepares adults for joining the church. "I love parish work because that's where the church really is," she explains. "That's the people."
Larry Latuszek, the business manager, says that both Corey and Sister Janina have a rare balance of good humor and devotion.
"They're both great people," adds longtime parishioner Ken Matthies. "I hate to see them leave."