WASHINGTON (July 1, 1999) -- Sister Charlotte Madigan, CSJ, and Father Ed Flahavan, social justice advocates whose initiatives with low-income people in Minneapolis-St. Paul have gained national recognition, have been named recipients of the annual Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of People Award by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic bishops.
Sister Madigan and Father Flahavan will receive the award July 15 during the National Catholic Gathering for Jubilee Justice scheduled for July 15-18 in Los Angeles, on the campus of the University of California. The Jubilee Justice conference, with more than 2,500 registered participants, is a time for Catholics from around the country to gather and recommit themselves to work for justice and peace.
CCHD Executive Director Rev. Robert J. Vitillo, in recognizing the Development of People Award winners, said, "As Catholics, we are called by faith to follow the inspiring example of Sister Charlotte Madigan and Father Ed Flahavan—to bring about positive social change which assists poor people to realize their God-given dignity and potential."
Sister Madigan founded the St. Joseph House in inner-city Minneapolis in 1976 as a place of hospitality for women in crisis. Modeled on the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Community, the center offered not only safety but opportunities for women to learn skills and develop leadership. Today women who have learned advocacy skills through the center speak out on welfare reform and living wage issues at the city and state levels.
In 1994, Sr. Madigan joined with others in the neighborhood to create HOPE (Homes on Portland Enterprises), which reclaimed neighborhood property from absentee landlords and rehabilitated homes for families. As neighborhood involvement increased, St. Joseph's and HOPE merged into the St. Joseph Hope Community and collaborated with local businesses and organizations to tackle the neighborhood's problems with drugs, crime, and gangs.
Father Ed Flahavan's work for justice has spanned a lifetime—from the early years of the civil rights movement through a prison chaplaincy from which he retired in 1997. A priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis since 1957, he helped to create new institutions and to transform existing ones at local, state, and national levels.
In 1968, he was instrumental in establishing the Archdiocesan Urban Affairs Commission, and, as its first director, established an affordable housing development program which won national respect. In the early 1970s, he helped to organize the nation's first statewide interfaith lobbying network on behalf of the poor, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition. As pastor of St. Stephen's, an inner-city parish in Minneapolis from 1976 to 1988, he opened one of the first church-based homeless shelters and became known as one of the region's most effective advocates with the poor.
Fr. Flahavan was a strong influence in the establishment of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. In 1969, he created an archdiocesan "Christian Sharing Fund," which promoted strategies on which CCHD was founded—empowerment of the poor and funding institutional change.
The CCHD Committee established the annual Development of People Award in 1987 to honor an individual whose life exemplifies a commitment to the development of people and the elimination of poverty. The award also focuses on conditions of poverty and the needs of economically disadvantaged people by recognizing a person who has made significant contributions to human development.
In 1997 the committee renamed the award the "Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of People Award" in memory of the late Presentation sister who was executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and a USCC-CCHD Committee member.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the largest source of private funding for anti-poverty programs run by poor and low-income people. During its 29-year history, CCHD has funded more than 3,500 self-help projects. Each year the Campaign awards national grants to more than 275 projects in local communities. The Campaign's primary source of funding is an annual collection in Catholic parishes, held in most dioceses on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. In 1998 CCHD distributed more than $8.5 million to low-income groups to help create jobs, provide affordable housing, strengthen schools, develop healthy communities, and protect the environment.
Pope John Paul II, in his January 1999 visit to St. Louis, emphasized the themes of commitment to the poor and work for justice that have been at the heart of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. In his homily at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the Holy Father challenged the United States to use its power for the good of the poor and defenseless. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of working for justice. "America will remain a beacon of freedom for the world as long as it stands by those moral truths which are the very heart of its historical experience. And so America: If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. If you want life, embrace the truth—the truth revealed by God," he said.
For additional information, contact Barbara Stephenson, CCHD, (202) 541-3364, firstname.lastname@example.org.