LAKE CHARLES –Father Don Piraro, Director-emeritus of Saint Charles Center, was named the 2015 winner of the Clergy Leadership Award given by the Bishop Jude Speyrer Chapter of Pontifical Knights and Dames at their annual Christmas luncheon.
The group presents the award in odd-numbered years.
(At left, Father Piraro, center, is pictured with Rev. Archimandrite Herbert May, left, chaplain of the Bishop Jude Speyrer Chapter of Pontifical Knights and Dames, and Gayle Marshall, right, president of the Chapter.)
Father Piraro, a Lake Charles native, was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Lafayette in 1967. Father attended local Catholic schools and Immaculata Seminary in Lafayette, receiving a BA in philosophy from Notre Dame Seminary of New Orleans, and did theological studies and graduate work in Graduate English at the Theological College of the Catholic University of America. He earned a Master of Education from the University of Southwestern Louisiana and a Doctor of Ministry from the Catholic University of America.
Assignments in his early priesthood were varied, initially being named Principal of Hanson Memorial High School in Franklin right after ordination. His first pastorate was at Our Lady of Wisdom Church and the Catholic Student Center at USL, now UL-Lafayette, before returning to the Diocese of Lake Charles only two years after its establishment.
He served a number of roles in the diocese and was instrumental in the establishment of Abraham’s Tent, serving as its general chair for nine years.
Fr. Piraro had a major role in the design, fundraising and the building of Saint Charles Center in Moss Bluff. He was named Director of the Center in 1993, helped oversee the construction of the buildings, and served at the Center’s leader until his retirement in 2010.
He served as a columnist for the Franklin Banner-Tribune newspaper, the monthly Southwest Catholic, and as a book editor of Priest, a national magazine for Catholic clergy. He is the author of a number of articles published nationally and is a published poet.
New officers introduced included Gayle Zembower, President, Knight of St. Sylvester; Willie Moreno, Vice President/President-Elect, Knight of St. Gregory; Secretary: Gayle Marshall, Knight of Saint Sylvester; and Treasurer, Chester Jones, Knight of St. Gregory.