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 bestows the Peace Award to recognize a modern-day peacemaker, someone who is a living example of the virtues of Saint Rita in today's beautiful but unruly world. We honor these peacemakers among us, support their missions, and the work they do to bring us closer to the Kingdom of God.
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.
Our Past Peacemakers
We honor a new modern-day peacemaker each year. Here are the past honorees.
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.