Reader Jennifer K. Bugajski contacted me with some great news this month.
During the final week of November, her daughter Rachel Major, a senior at Portage High School who also holds the teen division title of Miss Indiana, competed at the national competition in California and was crowned National American Miss Teen.
"This has only been the third time since the pageant's beginning in 2003 that an Indiana girl has won any of the titles," Bugaiski explained.
My congrats to Rachel, 17, who recently tweeted: "The best part about going to Starbucks this week is that they don't write Rachel on my cup, they now write Miss Indiana."
Bullish wedding bells
East Chicago's Ariana Rosado was selected to be a a member of the Chicago Bulls' Luvabulls cheerleading squad in August. And last Thursday, at the United Center, in the midst of the Bulls defeat of the Miami Heat, Rosado got the surprise of a lifetime. In the middle of a third-quarter dance routine center court, with all eyes on them, Rosado was surprised to find the music and routine the group had practiced suddenly changed. That's when her teammates launched into new choreography to the tune of Bruno Mars' "Marry You," and mascot Benny the Bull directed her to a rolling chair before one of the dancing inflatable Bennies, who suddenly deflated and collapsed to reveal Shane Zackery, Rosado's boyfriend and his surprise wedding proposal, which she happily accepted.
A special reader
My thoughts and prayers to Hammond playwright David Cerda, after hearing his beloved mother passed away Nov. 29. Merle "Bea" L. Cerda nee Vicari, age 73, of Hammond, recently celebrated with her family her 50 years of marriage to David's father Robert Cerda. She was a faithful reader of my column and loved to see her talented son David's name in bold. She is also survived by other talented children as well, daughters Denise and Danielle. Bea worked for St. Margaret's Hospital in Hammond for more than 30 years. Arrangements were last week at LaHayne Funeral Home in Hammond.
A faithful Father
Over the weekend, I learned of the passing of our longtime family priest from Chicago. Rev. Msgr. Francis N. Maniola, who earlier this year celebrated his 100th birthday and 75th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Chicago, died around 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn. He spent 45 years at St. Symphorosa Catholic Church in near Midway Airport, the Polish neighborhood near our family's Chicago homes. I'm told that when the medical responders came to the rectory to transport Msgr. Maniola to the hospital, one of them happened to be a former student, of this favorite priest, who taught for 27 years at Quigley Preparatory Seminary (North). Visitation is 3 to 9 p.m. today at Central Chapel Funeral Home, 6158 S. Central Ave. in Chicago, with the same visitation time Wednesday at St. Symphorosa Church, 6135 S. Austin Ave., Chicago where the concelebrated funeral mass is 11 a.m. Thursday.