HOBART | They came from every corner of the Gary community and beyond - 350 family members, parishioners, colleagues and friends filled Avalon Manor to the music of the Gary Civic Symphony Quartet recently to say farewell and testify to the dedicated service of the Rev. Pat Gaza for more than 20 years as pastor of SS. Monica and Luke Catholic Church.
Spearheaded by James L. Harris and his wife, Anita Harris, representatives from every parish ministry joined to pay tribute at Gaza's retirement celebration. Deacon Michael Richardson, Ascension Church, Memphis, formerly of SS. Monica & Luke, gave the keynote address, "A Journey Well Traveled."
The assembly sang "Happy Birthday" to Rev. Gaza's mother, Ann Marie Gaza, 90, and presented a beautifully decorated cake. Other family members in attendance were his brother, Jerry, and his wife, Stacy, and 15 cousins.
Program Committee Chair Sherylin McCrady coordinated the many awards presented to "Father Pat," including an Apostolic Blessing from His Holiness Pope Francis and recognition from the Diocese of Gary.
U.S. Rep. Peter J. Visclosky, D-Merrillville, circulated congratulations from the U.S. House of Representatives’ Congressional Record and State Senator Earline Rogers presented the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor the Governor of Indiana bestows. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, the Gary Common Council, Interfaith Clergy Council of Gary & Vicinity, the Steel City Hall of Fame and the Gary Branch NAACP also gave tribute.
“Father Pat was never just a name on a roster” was the recurring message of well-wishers. “He worked and served diligently every organization to which he belonged.”