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Photo Credit: http://staquinas.com
May 28, 2014
WASHINGTONA convert to Catholicism dedicated to serving the immigrant
and the stranger is the recipient of the 2014 Cardinal Bernardin New
Leadership Award. Bethany Welch, Ph.D., is being recognized for her
commitment and work to empower immigrants and the poor as founding
director of the Aquinas Center, a center of community development
created in partnership with the South Philadelphia parish community of
St. Thomas Aquinas.
Welch will be honored with the New Leadership
Award at a reception during the Spring General Assembly of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops in New Orleans, June 11. The award is
sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the
national anti-poverty program of the U.S. bishops. Bishop Jaime Soto of
Sacramento, California, chairman of CCHD, will confer the award.
Welch is practicing her Catholic faith in an inspiring way. She lives
at the service of immigrants and the working poor, those on the margins
of our society, said Bishop Soto. Her work echoes Pope Francis call
to reach out to those whom the culture excludes with the evangelii
gaudium, the joy of the Gospel. Bethany brings to life the mission of
the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
from college in 2000, Welch has dedicated herself to helping others,
starting a food bank in upstate New York and coordinating federal
advocacy efforts there, serving as a VISTA volunteer, and working to
secure local CCHD funding in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to organize
Catholics to advocate for immigration reform. Her work brought her into
contact with many dedicated women religious and laypersons, whose
example led her to convert to Catholicism.
I am part of a
generation that wants more. I want the Church and my community to ask
more of me, to challenge me, to expect a lot, said Welch.
with parishioners in South Philadelphia, she led efforts to found the
Aquinas Center, re-purposing a former convent to create a space for
community organizing, advocacy, service for the immigrant community,
urban immersion experiences and revitalization projects, like community
gardens. Welch has served in multiple leadership and volunteer positions
within the Catholic Church, including service on parish councils, in
national Catholic organizations, and with the Archdiocese of
The Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award honors a
Catholic between the age of 18 and 40 who demonstrates leadership in
fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through
community-based solutions. It is named for the late Cardinal Joseph
Bernardin, who served as archbishop of Chicago from 1982 till his death
in 1996. More information is available online: www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/cardinal-bernardin-new-leadership-award.cfm
Original article on USCCB.
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