The Annual Peace Award
"Your mission, however, is to prevent the shedding of blood.
Yours, therefore, is the privilege of averting that calamity which others are under the necessity of producing."
-St. Augustine in a letter to Darius (Letter 229, written in the year 429)
Each year, The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia identifies a modern-day peacemaker who serves the children of God in a manner that reflects the virtues of our patroness. Honorees are recognized at our annual Peace Banquet.
2018 Annual Peace Banquet
Thank you to all who attended our banquet on Friday, May 4
St. Francis Inn Ministries was awarded the Peace Award. Mr. Joe Bradley of Philadelphia was awarded the Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce Award.
Read more about St. Francis Inn Ministries in this Philadelphia Inquirer article.
Our Past Peacemakers
We honor a new modern-day peacemaker each year. Here are the past honorees.
St. Francis Inn Ministries
Under the Market-Frankford el tracks in the Kensington neighborhood of North Philadelphia, you'll find a tiny ecosphere of haven, healing, and help. In 1980, the Franciscans bought enough property to open a soup kitchen. In the ensuing decades, they've overseen the establishment of a boarding house, a thrift store where customers can get vouchers for clothing, the Thea Bowman Women's Center, a relationship with Catholic Worker House down the street, and a thriving kitchen that runs on donations from local bakeries, churches, restaurants, and food manufacturers, and a thriving pipeline of willing volunteers.
"We're the Club Med of the soup world," Fr. Duffy jokes. "We have a full schedule of volunteers from all over who come in to serve." On the night we visited, students from Neumann University and Villanova University were there, along with parishioners from a Raleigh, NC Franciscan parish who were spending the week in service. Three days a week, guests can ask for bags of toiletries like soap, deodorant, and shampoo. Mothers can request formula if they register their child with a birth certificate and photo ID. Guests can use the phone or have their mail delivered to the Inn, and occasionally, some children are offered scholarships for the local Catholic Schools. Bagged breakfast of hot or cold cereal or pastries is served three days a week, and every evening - rain, shine, snow, holiday or not - guests are invited in for a sit-down meal served by volunteers.
"It's not as efficient. But it's more Franciscan." The motivation is not just to feed the hungry, but to live among them, serve them, to recognize their humanity. As Jesus healed, served, and washed feet, so too do the staff and volunteers of St. Francis Inn touch the lives of the outcast and disenfranchised who come to the door.
Kensington is on the front lines of gentrification, the opioid crisis, and any number of the inevitable downsides to urban growth. This outpost of Franciscan values, bolstered by four friars, two sisters, two lay people, and three Franciscan Volunteers along with a bastion of volunteers, succeeds in promoting the seemingly simple but far under-practiced quality of peacemakers: seeing the face of God in those that walk with us.
Mr. Joseph Bradley
Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce Award Winner
"Everything I've done was how I see serving the Lord and dealing with issues of injustice and the plight of the poor." -Joe Bradley
For decades, Joe Bradley has had a clear understanding of the importance of social justice and peacemaking in the world. And like Saint Rita and Blessed Maria Theresa Fasce, he has deftly moved from initiative to initiative over the years of his life, embracing whatever he felt God called him to support, with all his being.
It started with on-campus peaceful protests of the Vietnam War at Villanova University. "I thought about what a Catholic University was called to be," he says, explaining why he marched alongside the NROTC cadets, a visual reminder of the way of peace during the nation's confused engagement in Vietnam.
In 1968, Bradley co-founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship Philadelphia chapter, and for years he has been the editor of the CPF newsletter. CPF is a community of Christians who have joined together to bring a gospel-based perspective to peace, justice, and environmental issues.
As the Augustinian NGO representative to the United Nations, Bradley attended monthly meetings at the UN. He's served on the Board for ADROP (Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor) and served with multiple organizations that protest nuclear weapons, seek for education and understanding between advocates for Israel and Palestine, and recognize the dignity of human life, such as Project H.O.M.E. and a program called UHealth which helped support reintegration of former inmates. He was a close friend of Fr. Dick Appicci, OSA, and was tireless in helping the Peruvian missions of the Augustinians for many years.
Bradley has also taught at Graterford Prison in Montgomery County, PA for decades and continues to visit the prisoners and advocate for their needs. The Gray Panthers are a group of convicts facing life without parole. Many were convicted generations ago, under very different social conditions. Bradley is an advocate for new government bills that would combat disproportionate sentencing for the aging inmate population. In the meantime, he ministers to prisoners regularly. "We talk about getting out... but we talk about everything."
Joe and his wife, Mary Ellen, continue to edit the CPF newsletter, alerting the community to the perspective of the disenfranchised and the forgotten.
Sr. Marie Lucey and the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia
In recognition of ecumenical ministry and promotion of interfaith solidarity between Christians and Muslims through several different avenues.
(Accepted by Fr. Don Reilly, OSA and Sister Bernadette Kiniry, Sisters of Mercy)
Siloam is an organization in which the HIV/AIDS community seeks healing of spirit, mind, and body.
Fr. Douglas McKay
Our House Ministries
Our House Ministries give witness to the peaceful Gospel of joy and love to the people of God, providing both spiritual and corporal support for our needy brothers and sisters in our Grays Ferry facilities.
Dwayne Royster was the director for Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER), which uses belief in God’s goodness and compassion for the suffering to organize and empower the people of Philadelphia to live and work together so that God’s presence is known on every block, that people work together to transform the conditions of their neighborhood, and that life flourishes for all.
(Accepted by Sisters Teresita Hennigan, Terry Shields, Kathleen Coll, and Mrs. Mary Fusco)
Dawn’s Place pro-actively supports women affected by commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and its abuse by providing services to women, raising awareness through education, and generating prevention, public policy reform and community collaborations. Dawn’s Place works to improve the lives of women trapped by, or at risk for CSE, by providing housing, trauma recovery services, vocational training and other services.
Judge Timothy Rice
The Philadelphia federal court's Supervision To Aid Reentry (STAR) program breaks the cycle of recidivism by helping ex-offenders build or rebuild community ties. Since 2007, Judge Timothy Rice has met with, encouraged, and supervised federal ex-offenders who have served lengthy prison terms.
Dr. Joseph Betz
A professor at Villanova University, Dr. Betz was Chair of the Main Line Cropwalk for 17 years, served on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Youth Services Committee for Troubled Youth, and is a member of the Interfaith Hospitality Network. He teaches Philosophy at Graterford Prison, has been a member of the Romero Interfaith Center in Wayne, PA, a member of the Bryn Mawr Peace Action and Main Line Peace Coalition, and a supporter of the Sanctuary movement.
House of Grace, Catholic Worker
(Accepted by Joanna Berrigan and Mary Beth Appel)
The House of Grace-Catholic Worker organization was in South Kensington, PA, and provided education, medical assistance, and legal advocacy to the poor in the tradition of Dorothy Day.
Heeding God's Call
Heeding God’s Call is a faith-based movement to prevent gun violence. They unite people of faith in the sacred responsibility to protect men, women, and children through advocacy, education, support, and organization, engaging faith communities to form multi-racial, ecumenical and interfaith partnerships.
Nickel Mines Amish Community
(Accepted by Herman Bontranger)
The Nickel Mines Amish Community displayed a momentous example of forgiveness after a horrendous crime. A shooter entered their small school building, murdering five young school girls and injuring five more before taking his own life. In a response that distilled the power of forgiveness, the community showed immediate compassion for the man's widow and children, and forgave the perpetrator.
Selecting the Honorees
The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia has a Peace Award Board that convenes to discuss and select the honoree for each year.
In the year 2000, the first centenary of the canonization of Saint Rita, Pope John Paul II spoke of Rita as a woman for the 21st Century. Her message of forgiveness, peacemaking, and reconciliation, he said, are more needed today than in her own lifetime. The truth of the Holy Father's statement is evident. The Saint Rita Peace Award will seek to recognize individuals who exemplify these aspects of the Gospel and of Saint Rita's spirituality in contemporary life.