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Immigration lawyer’s life praised for generosity, faith

God called a remarkable, generous, faith-filled woman home Dec. 28 after she bravely battled cancer for two years.  Elizabeth “Liz” Giordano, 46, was known for her huge heart and compassion for those less fortunate.

Friends and family praised Giordano, who was a wife, mother and immigration lawyer, for her faith and love at her rosary and funeral Mass at her parish, St. Catherine of Siena in Denver Jan. 3. Twenty-seven vested priests and deacons presided at the Mass.

Born Nov. 1, 1967, to Edward S. and Graciela (Botello) Eberhard in Chicago, she was one of five daughters and one son. Giordano was a graduate of Broomfield High School and earned a law degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She married Toby Giordano in 1995.

In her law practice, Giordano specialized in religious workers’ visas. She touched the lives of many people by liberally giving of her time and talent.

Giordano was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer nine days after giving birth to her “miracle” premature child, Grace. The child, who is now a healthy 20 months old, weighed just 3 pounds, 12 ounces at birth.

“We considered her our saving grace,” Giordano’s husband Toby said about their daughter’s name. “She is a gift from Liz and God.”

Giordano’s death occurred only two days before her and Toby’s 18th wedding anniversary.  Her husband said he felt the comforting presence of God in the room during the last hours of his wife’s life when her mother, sisters, brother and he were gathered at her bedside.

In her eulogy, 13-year-old Kayli Jankowski called Giordano “my angel on earth who has now earned her wings.”  The teen received a life-saving bone marrow transplant from Giordano years ago.

“She was an amazing gem of a person,” said sister-in-law Tryna Cooper.  “She loved to laugh, and one of her greatest gifts was her infectious laughter.”

Sister Geriann Ferreri said her sibling always wanted to help others and took an interest in everyone she met.

“(She) loved the Lord and the Catholic Church,” Ferreri said.

Msgr. Bernard Schmitz recalled working with Giordano since being appointed as the Denver archdiocesan vicar for clergy in 2007.

“She was an invaluable help to me,” he said, adding that she would patiently explain complicated points of immigration law over and again.

Due to her work securing visas for hundreds of priests and religious, the impact Giordano had on the Church was great, said Msgr. Tom Fryar, moderator of the curia.

“Especially when you think about the number of babies baptized, the number of funerals celebrated, weddings prepared and celebrated, Masses, and the number of people helped by the priests and religious who arrived here in Denver with proper immigration papers because of her work.

“Liz was not about Liz,” he added. “She was about others. … The truth is she poured out her life for others.  She will be deeply missed.”

Catherine Chan, a lawyer friend of Giordano’s, said her colleague was instrumental in the development and success of the Spanish Language Lawyering Committee.

“Her death,” she said, “is truly a loss.”

Roxanne King
Roxanne King is the former editor of the Denver Catholic Register and a freelance writer in the Denver area.
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