Church mourns loss of stewardship director: D’Aunoy remembered for her Southern charm, smile

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Missie D’Aunoy, who captured the hearts of all she met with her warm, Southern spirit and compassionate heart, died March 3. She was 56.

Missie D’Aunoy served as director of the Office of Stewarship for three years. She died March 3. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN FILE PHOTO)
Missie D’Aunoy served as director of the Office of Stewarship for three years. She died March 3. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN FILE PHOTO)

D’Aunoy was the director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship for the past three years. She was responsible for stewardship formation, planning and development and the annual Charity and Development Appeal.

Originally from New Orleans, D’Aunoy felt it her responsibility last year to help the staff of the Diocesan Pastoral Center celebrate Mardi Gras for the first time.

She would also lead the Office of Stewardship in the annual reading of “A Cajun Night Before Christmas,” incorporating the best of her Southern voices into each role.

“She’s like the Irish,” said Fr. Greg Schlarb, vicar of stewardship. “When she needed something, her accent would come right out.”

Fr. Schlarb said D’Aunoy’s stewardship was innate.

“She was born a good steward; to her family, community and living out her faith,” he said. “She was a Southern lady who did so much and met everything with a smile. No matter what it was, she went after it with passion.”

D’Aunoy attended both a Catholic elementary and high school, graduating from St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans.

She met her husband, Gerard, when he was an altar server at Our Lady of Prompt Succor, in Chalmette, La.

The couple moved to Arizona in 1990, residing in the West Valley with their two daughters so they could attend St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. Although her plan was to become an active volunteer in her children’s school, God’s hand gently guided her onto the staff as its development director for the next seven years.

“She would say, ‘never let your head hit the pillow until you mention something about St. Vincent de Paul,’” Fr. Schlarb recalled.
During her tenure, the school grew and was able to add a computer lab, and the first grant proposal she wrote resulted in the addition of a basketball court on the unfenced school grounds.

Knowing that the surrounding homes filled with children had access to the court gave D’Aunoy great joy and satisfaction, which ultimately led to another career.

For the next nine years she worked with Habitat for Humanity as a Major Gifts Officer, Chief Development Officer and Chief Operations Officer. D’Aunoy was often heard saying how she fell in love with the idea of people working together to achieve home ownership.

She relished knowing the children in a Habitat house would have a safe place to live, and value and appreciate their home and community.

Her work for the Phoenix Diocese fed her passion to empower and help others. D’Aunoy took great pride involving people in the mission of the Church, and knowing CDA funds made an impact for families and individuals with very basic needs.

She was born July 11, 1956, in New Orleans, to Walter P. Guillot and Marilyn T. Taranto. D’Aunoy is survived by her husband, Gerard R. D’Aunoy, daughters Danielle (David) Brady and Nicole D’Aunoy, mother Marilyn Guillot, brothers Walter Guillot and Craig Guillot, and sister Laurie Conard. She was preceded in death by her father Walter P. Guillot.

Visitation was March 6, with recitation of the rosary, at St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial March 7 at St. John Vianney, which was followed by entombment at Holy Redeemer Catholic Cemetery, Cave Creek.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be directed to the Missie D’Aunoy memorial fund, 400 E. Monroe St., Phoenix, AZ 85004.

Memories and condolences may be made by visiting the online obituary Guest Book at www.obits.azcentral.com. Arrangements were entrusted to Queen of Heaven Mortuary.

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