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Catholic woman dubbed ‘spiritual mother’ for local charity

Leading Denver Catholic Toni Armstead, known for always lending a helping hand, will be honored at an awards dinner next month through the Office of Black Catholic Ministry.

“Toni Armstead’s selfless dedication to serving the parish family has been extraordinary,” wrote Mary Leisring in an award nomination letter. “She deserves to be recognized for her invaluable work.”

The parishioner of St. Ignatius Loyola Church has earned the title of “spiritual mother” for her aid to children in the community and longtime involvement in the parish’s spiritual and charitable activities.

She will receive an award at the annual St. Josephine Bakhita and St. Katharine Drexel Award Dinner Sept. 12 at Bogey’s Golf Club House in Denver. She was selected for mirroring the steadfast witness and selfless service of the Catholic ministry’s patronesses.

The award is given to local Catholics who exemplify the 19th-century St. Bakhita of the Daughters of Charity of Canossa and St. Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Xavier University of Louisiana. The two saints were canonized Oct. 1, 2000.

“We wanted to do something to honor someone that has gone beyond their service to the Black and African Catholic community,” Leisring told the Denver Catholic Register about the award dinner. This is the sixth annual dinner.

Fellow Catholic Sharon Woodruff, who is Armstead’s sister nominated her for the award for promoting discipleship, witnessing to the faith, being a dedicated leader and building the kingdom of God.

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Armstead has been a member of the parish since the 90s and has served on the pastoral council for many years. She’s also served for 12 years as the director of the religious education program.

“She has become an advocate for the children of the parish, especially the Sudanese and Nigerian community,” Woodruff wrote.

She would pick up children who did not have transportation to classes and would check in on families if they had not been to church in a while.

“She would direct the family to the correct persons when a family (was) in need of assistance, such as beds for their children, or help in keeping their lights on,” Woodruff explained. “Her most recent project was sharing a place for rent for a family that needed a larger home.”

She also organizes the Christmas giving tree and basket distribution for children and needy families of the community. Armstead is also active in Thanksgiving and Easter charitable activities and organizes the altar servers and Eucharistic ministers who need training and preparation.

Her charity also extends to those beyond the church, Woodruff shared.

“She and another church member drove around for hours on a Sunday trying to find a safe place for a homeless couple,” she wrote.

Leisring said Armstead’s contribution has been immeasurable over the years.

“From the time she came to the parish 20 years ago, she has been involved in every aspect of spiritual and charitable activity,” she said.

Armstead will be honored during the award dinner that will begin with a social hour and includes dinner. Tickets are available through the Office of Black Catholic Ministry.

St. Josephine Bakhita and St. Katharine Drexel Award DinnerThe Sts. Bakhita and Brexel award is given annually by the Office of Black Catholic Ministry.

Sponsored by the Office of Black Catholic Ministry
When: 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 12
Where: Bogey’s Golf Club House, 2600 York St., Denver
Cost: $35 per ticket
RSVP: by Aug. 25
Reservation: Mail check to the Office of Black Catholic Ministry, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210-2599
Information: Call 303-715-3165 or email mary.leisring@archden.org
Book: “A Proud History”
Mary Leisring, director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry, published a book to share with the community the richness, cultural values and spirituality of the history of African Americans and Black Catholics.
The book will be on sale at the award dinner.
Cost: $10. Money will be used to sponsor evangelization programs.
Email: mary.leisring@archden.org or call 303-715-3165



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