Vital, behind the scenes volunteer from St. Leo, MN honored with award

May 8th, 2020

SAINT PAUL, MINN — For her decades of tireless service and volunteerism in her parish and community, a lifelong resident of St. Leo, Minn., will be honored with Catholic United Financial’s Volunteer of the Year Award on Tuesday, May 12 at 4 p.m.

Shirley Jelen, 88, was nominated by community members and selected by Catholic United based on her near-total commitment to serving others. She will be presented with her award virtually during an online streaming ceremony viewable to the public at Catholic United Financial’s Facebook page on May 12. 

“When we think of the type of service we set out to honor with this award, it wasn’t to celebrate the big events or one major headline,” Catholic United Member Engagement Director Nate Lamusga said. “It was to seek out the unsung heroes of our Catholic communities who are always there no matter how unglamorous the job. Shirley is the quintessential Catholic who will never turn down an opportunity to help.”

Jelen, a Catholic United member of 42 years, begins every day by unclocking St. Leo’s Catholic Church building. She handles almost every conceivable task at the church, from snow shoveling, lawn mowing and brewing coffee, to dry-cleaning priestly vestments. When she isn’t helping at St. Leo’s, Shirley can be found at the St. Leo Community Center where she is equally critical in the unsung day-to-day jobs that are taken for granted: coffee, donuts, pop and candy, setting up and breaking down events.

The Volunteer of the Year Award is an honor created by Catholic United to recognize a Catholic community member whose superlative service serves as a shining light of selflessness.

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