The honorees hold their plaques during the Knights of Columbus awards ceremony. (Courtesy of Sea Isle City)

Each year, the members of the Knights of Columbus Madonna Maria Council #3560, of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Sea Isle City, honor individuals and families who stand out in their fields or who make the community a better place by volunteering and showing kindness to others.

This year’s “Community Awards” were distributed to recipients during a ceremony at the St. Joseph Parish Life Center on May 25.

The 2023 “Citizen of the Year” award went to Abby Powell, a devoted community volunteer who gives her time at Sea Isle City’s Historical Society, Environmental Commission and Beachcomber Guided Tours.

The 2023 “Educator of the Year” award went to Sister Thomas Marie, a Sister of Mercy, who has a long career in Catholic education and is the current librarian at Bishop McHugh Regional Catholic School.

The male and female “Students of the Year” are Nicholas Catanoso and Flora Morris. They are both eighth graders at Bishop McHugh Regional Catholic School and are known for their academic skills and school spirit.

The 2023 “Shield Award,” which is presented annually to a first responder, was given to Dr. Joseph LaRosa, a retired educator, local historian and past member of the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol.

LaRosa has mentored generations of lifeguards and is known for his keen ability to “read the surf.” He was entered into the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol Alumni Hall of Fame in 2010.

The “Senior Citizen of the Year” award went to Thomas Owings, a well-respected community member and long-time Knight of Columbus, who volunteered at the Holy Redeemer Food Pantry for many years. He is also a volunteer usher at Sunday masses and serves as the president of AARP Chapter 710.

The 2023 “Knight of the Year” award went to Rev. Perry Cherubini, the pastor of St. Joseph Church since 2020. Throughout his priesthood, Father Perry has been a champion of Catholic education.

Additionally, he has made numerous improvements to the parish’s facilities in recent years and also has begun hosting new events and religious celebrations that have been welcomed by parishioners.

The “Family of the Year” award went to the Keefer family, which includes dad Matt, mom Nicole, and siblings Alexis, Madeline and Zachary. The Keefers are known for their devotion to the parish, kindness and volunteering efforts.

“Part of our mission is to recognize people who contribute to the community,” Madonna Maria Council Grand Knight Ed McFadden said. “We were very happy to present our 2023 awards to these well-deserved recipients, because they are the type of people who make Sea Isle a ‘City for all Seasons’ as the town’s slogan goes.”

To learn more about the Knights of Columbus of St. Joseph Church, visit