Community Voices

Saint Mary’s College honors alumna from Miami with achievement award

Graciela Batista Nearing, class of 1967, and her husband, Michael Nearing, at the reunion banquet on June 3 at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
Graciela Batista Nearing, class of 1967, and her husband, Michael Nearing, at the reunion banquet on June 3 at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

It pleases me greatly to give you this good news: Graciela (Grace) Batista Nearing of Miami, a 1967 graduate of Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, has been awarded the Alumna Achievement Award. Each year, the Catholic women’s college alumnae association honors an alumna who is outstanding in her personal and professional accomplishments and is a recognized leader in her field of endeavor.

Nearing, said the college, exemplifies the standards. ideals, and its mission of commitment to the value of a Christian liberal arts education.

Bea Hines.JPG
Bea L. Hines

She is honored for her dedication to clinical psychology, especially for children, and her service to the college. The award was announced June 3 at the college’s reunion banquet on the college campus. Nearing attended the event with her husband, Michael.

Nearing came to this country from Cuba as a teenager, along with her sister, in 1960 after Fidel Castro rose to power. Their parents and two brothers were able to join them six months later, after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

In her nomination letter, Marcia Servis Silvestro, also of the class of 1967 wrote: “I admired her bravery and her ability to learn so quickly. To be able to excel in that environment at such a young age is remarkable.”

The award citation says that Nearing has a “deep appreciation for the generosity of someone with close ties to the college who made it possible for her to attend Saint Mary’s ... and that it is a constant reminder for her of the importance of bettering others’ lives.”

Nearing’s passion for giving back has led her to offer pro-bono psychological services to homeless women and their children and serve as psychology volunteer for the Archdiocese of Miami. She is a supporter of Catholic Relief Services’ efforts in Cuba and the efforts of Caritas Cubana, an organization that provides care for infants and the elderly in Cuba.

“Saint Mary’s was a safe haven for me,” Nearing said. “Everyone was very kind. My professors believed in me and made it possible for me to gain confidence in my abilities and share those abilities to impart good in the world.”

Film, discussion about immigration

The more we know about the foreigners in our midst, the more we will know about how to help them through the immigration issues, and as the Rev. Martha Shiverick said, “to speak through the biblical mandate” of how to care for them.

Riviera Presbyterian Church, where Shiverick is the pastor, will screen the film “Locked in a Box: Immigration Detention” and have a discussion afterward beginning 7 p.m. June 16.

The evening will include a lecture by guest speaker Susan Krehbiel of the National Presbyterian Church USA and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

Shiverick said the film is an award-winning short documentary that follows the stories of individuals held in the U.S. Immigration detention system and those who visit them. The film traces the lives of individuals who fled their homelands in search of safety and freedom, only to end up in U.S. prisons under a mandatory bed quota system run by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE).

Since the 1990s, she said, there has been a massive expansion of the immigration detention system, up to 34,000 on any given day, in approximately 200 different facilities. Many of them are for-profit prisons. The documentary film helps strip away the political rhetoric to see the human cost of detention, Shiverick said in a press release.

The event is free and light refreshments will be served. To RSVP, call the church office at 305-666-8586, ext. 3.

Temple Israel hires cantorial soloist

Warm congratulations to Karen Pincus, who on June 1 joined Temple Israel of Greater Miami as its full-time cantorial soloist.

Being a cantorial soloist is nothing new to Pincus. She has served Temple Beth Am in that same position since 2014. She will bring her musical gifts to Temple Israel’s Shabbat services and life-cycle events, as well as directing the adult choir. She will also lead children in prayer at religious school and prepare youth for their b’nei mitzvah services.

“Karen has a long history of singing at our temple and has a heart for our community and our joyful and musical services,” Temple Israel President Howard D. Goldstein said. “We are thrilled to welcome her”

St. Mark’s Lutheran has new pastor

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at 3930 LeJeune Rd. in Coral Gables, has a new pastor. He is the Rev. Dr. David O. Guss, who was installed on June 4 at a special installation service. The Rev. Marcus Lohrman, interim bishop for the Florida-Bahamas Synod, presided at the installation.

Neighbors in Religion sends a warm welcome to you, Dr. Guss.

Church Summer Indoor Yard Sale

Just in case you didn’t make it out last weekend to Palm Springs United Methodist Church’s annual Summer Indoor Yard Sale, the event will be held again from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 9 and 10.

As usual, there will be an “overabundance” of a variety of items available, said my friend Nancy Perez, a member of the church. Low prices on all items will be for the entire weekend. However, there will no longer be half prices on items on the last day.

Items for sale will include clothing for the entire family, shoes, craft supplies, linens, videos, toys, small kitchen appliance, china, small furniture, baby items, luggage, lamps, small electronic items, picture, collectables, books, and holiday items and decorations. Lunch and snacks will also be for sale. All money raised is used for church work and missions. Call 305-821-2073 for more information.

The church, at 5700 W. 12th Ave. in Hialeah, also has an extra set of red choir robes for any church in need. Interested persons should call Perez at 305-821-2073, or come to the sale and ask to speak to her.

Charmette awards breakfast

It is my belief that it is never too late to say “Congratulations” to a person who has received a well-deserved honor.

In this case, I want to congratulate several people honored at the Charmette awards breakfast on April 29 at the Newport Beachside Hotel and Resort.

The honorees were presented their awards by several “pioneers” and it was my pleasure to present fellow Miami Herald journalist Lance Dixon his award.

Other honorees and pioneer presenters were Minister Jon A. Ingraham and pioneer presenter the Rev. Dr. Ralph Ross; Donovan Jackson and pioneer presenter entrepreneur Adrian Foster; Cedric McMinn and pioneer public administrator Milton Vickers; and Drs. Ndubuisi Okafor and Ninaba Wariboko and pioneer presenter Dr. James Bridges.

The William Sutton Humanitarian Award was presented to Whitney Maxey by pioneer Dr. Enid Pinkney; and the Charmette of the Year Award was presented to Charmette Regina Gilbert, by Cecily Robinson-Duffie, president of the Miami Dade County Chapter of Charmettes.

Krystina Derby, the 2016 valedictorian of her class at Miami Carol City High School was awarded a $1,000 scholarship for the second year. She attends the University of Florida and the scholarship is renewable each year that she is in college, President Robinson-Duffie said.

Charmette Dr. Ivis Richardson is chairwoman of the scholarship committee and Charmette Tara Paramore is chairwoman of the breakfast event.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.