WASHINGTON (November 7, 2000) -- John Joseph IV of Decatur, Ala., has been selected as the third recipient of the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award honoring young Catholic adults who show leadership in and commitment to social justice. Joseph, who graduated last spring from The University of Mississippi, is honored for his work there to ease racial tensions on campus and work for understanding among people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
As a senator in the Ole Miss Associated Student Body Government, Joseph drafted language for a resolution calling for an end to the waving of the Confederate Battle flag at athletic and other events. "I came to feel that waving the flag made some people feel excluded," Joseph said. The student body adopted a resolution to that effect, joined by the Ole Miss Alumni Association and the Ole Miss Faculty Senate. As a result of Joseph's leadership on the issue, his colleagues twice named him Senator of the Year, and he served as president of the Student Body Government during his senior year. While university officials acknowledge that the flag flew once or twice at games this Fall, they also note that leadership among the representative body of students created the opportunity for a breakthrough on the issue.
The Bernardin Award is sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the Catholic Church's national program to fight poverty in the United States, which provides funding to community-based projects that attack the root causes of poverty in order to break its cycle. This year, CCHD provided $10.1 million in grants to 366 community projects; $500,000 of that will fund National Impact Grants for projects that are active in more than three states and aimed at addressing immigration issues related to poverty. These grant funds are raised in parish collections that take place once a year across the country.
Dr. Thomas J. Reardon, associate Dean of students at Ole Miss, nominated Joseph for the award and cited his work in advancing race relations on campus. In addition to the work on the flag issue, Joseph had a leadership role in creating a campus group called SEED – Students Envisioning Equality through Diversity, which provided a forum for discussions, and which sponsored a state-wide summit on race relations in Mississippi. Joseph was also active in other Ole Miss activities and started a campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which is now the second largest student organization on campus and brings students together every Saturday of the school year to work on houses for the poor.
"The Bernardin Award recognizes the next generation of leadership in the fight against social injustice," said Father Robert J. Vitillo, CCHD executive director. "We honor young people and their families, their colleges and parishes, for their commitment to the gospel of love of God and neighbor. We honor their commitment in a world where social injustices can be overlooked too often, especially in a time of general prosperity. With this award, we recognize the work young leaders do in their communities, the blows they strike against the causes of injustice, and the potential they have for making an enormous difference over the course of their lives."
Joseph received a bachelor's degree in political science and is currently interning in Washington, D.C. His home parish in Decatur is St. Anne's, where he served as the youth coordinator during the summer of 1997 and where his family still worships. He is the son of John Joseph III and the late Mary Anne Joseph.
The Bernardin Award will be presented November 12 in Washington, D.C., two days before the fourth anniversary of the death of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin (1928-1996).Cardinal Bernardin was an advocate of CCHD and nurtured its vision during in its early years. He remained a strong supporter of CCHD, now in its 30th year, while Archbishop of Cincinnati and Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago. The Bernardin New Leadership Award recognizes young people who embody his spirit and his leadership in building bridges across ethnic, class and age barriers.
The finalists for the award are: Martha Aragon of El Paso, Texas; Paula Arnquist of Tucson, Ariz.; Tara Carr of San Francisco, Calif.; Sonia Felix and Juan Garcia of Los Angeles, Calif.; Raquel Granda of the Bronx, N.Y.; Kelli Kester of Minneapolis, Minn.; Lauren Knutowicz of West Orange, N.J.; Kate Luby of Jacksonville, Fla; and Juan Salgado of Chicago, Ill.
For additional information, contact Barbara Stephenson, CCHD, 202-541-3364, firstname.lastname@example.org