Merced County Times Newspaper
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Times Photos by Jonathan Whitaker

Harvest of Hope gathering honors community standouts

Incredibly, two Catholic bishops and more than a dozen “monsignors” and/or priests were in attendance, along with Merced community supporters who filled up the Parish Hall of St. Patrick’s Church for the fifth annual Harvest of Hope community celebration.

It’s the largest annual fundraiser for the local Catholic Charities mission. The organization works every day, all year round to provide vital programs and services to families in crisis.

In attendance was the new Bishop for the Diocese of Fresno — the Most Reverend Joseph V. Brennan — for his first official visit to Merced. Everyone was excited to meet the new bishop, and many guests were seen lining up to greet him and ask for a photo opportunity. Bishop Brennan was joined by the Bishop for the Diocese of Stockton — the Most Reverend Myron J. Cotta.

However, the night also belonged to the honorees who received some well-deserved attention for their goodwill and community contributions. The honorees were Albert Coderniz of Dos Palos, and the Serrano family from Le Grand.

Albert Coderniz, who followed in his parents footsteps, and grew the family dairy farm, reminded everyone to be kind to one another.

Corderniz and his brother Frank were responsible for helping to build the first Grade A dairy in Dos Palos. They also helped develop and build a new church for the Sacred Heart Parish. The Corderniz family has also been loyal supporters of Catholic education in several communities, from Fresno to San Luis Obispo.

The Serrano Family of Le Grand — led by Dave Serrano — paid tribute to their family matriarch, the late RoseAnn Serrano. RoseAnn was integral in Our Lady of Lourdes Mission ministries; teaching catechism, playing the piano/organ for Mass, being a member of the Altar Society, cleaning the church, leading fundraisers, attending Bible studies, and being a mentor to many. Many Merced-area residents remember RoseAnn for her presence at the local Farmers Market.

Over the years, Dave and RoseAnn have kept a family farming tradition going strong in the local area. They also instilled God and faith in their four children who carry on the family tradition: Christine, Danielle, Matthew and Michael.

Bishop Brennan said he was pleasantly surprised by the news that he would become the new bishop of the Diocese of Fresno. He appeared very happy to be at the event, meeting new local friends and learning about what Catholic Charities is doing in the community. The mission in the entire Diocese of Fresno assists nearly 40,000 clients with food, clothing and shelter.

There were many other dignitaries at the event, but deserving of special attention were Jeff Negrete, the executive director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Fresno. He led a flawless evening of celebration and fellowship that will be fondly remembered in the minds of many who attended. Also, Dena Medeiros, the Merced site director of the organization, was on hand with inspirational works, and help making many things behind the scenes work out perfectly.

Last but not least, a lively live auction raised thousands of dollars for Catholic Charities!

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