WASHINGTON (October 5, 2007) – The Bishops' Committee on Hispanic Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on October 5 unveiled the names of two new recipients of the Archbishop Patrick F. Flores Award Medal for Leadership in Hispanic Ministry. Sister María Elena González, RSM and the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC), both of San Antonio, Texas, have been selected as the new honorees. The official award ceremony will be held November 11, 2007 in Baltimore during the Committee's meeting, coinciding with the U.S. Bishops' fall general meeting.
Bishop Placido Rodriguez of Lubbock, Texas, chairman of the Committee said the Bishops confer this award "to recognize great leadership in Hispanic ministry and to encourage the continuation and emergence of this level of leadership throughout the country."
Sister González, a Religious Sister of Mercy, will receive the award for a lifetime of service, leadership and dedication. She has a long and varied career. Recently, she stepped down as President of the Mexican American Cultural Center, a position that she held for fourteen years. She was the first woman chancellor in the Diocese of Lubbock and one of the first women diocesan chancellors in the country. She also served as a consultant to the Committee for Hispanic Affairs of the USCCB from 1994-2002, as a member of the Bishops' Sub Committee for the National Encuentro 2000, and on the US Census Bureau Race and Ethnicity Committee for the 2000 Census, the San Antonio Express News Community Advisory Board and the Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy. She has been also a grade school teacher and a missionary in Guatemala. She has received numerous awards including the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal from Pope John Paul II. Most recently, Sister González received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Salve Regina University, and a similar honorary degree from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. She considers herself an educator at heart and has devoted herself to the empowerment of the poor and the oppressed.
"It is a great honor for me to receive this prestigious award at the same time it is being presented to MACC," said Sr. González after learning of the award. "It means a lot to me to receive an award with his [Archbishop Flores'] name on it. We both come from the same place. We were both migrants. He is one of the founders of MACC. It is just a great honor."
The Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) was established in 1972 in the capital of the frontera, San Anonio, Texas. Created initially to develop pastoral materials to serve the millions of Spanish speaking peoples living in the U.S., the center later evolved into a cross-cultural center for theology, pastoral ministry, study of the Spanish and English languages, research and study of the Hispanic reality.
"It is a great honor for MACC to receive the Archbishop Patrick Flores Award," said Dr. Arturo Chávez, President of MACC. "As one of MACC's co-founders, Archbishop Emeritus Flores has deeply touched our institution. Through his life, he demonstrates a profound love of faith and pride of culture which has shaped MACC's mission. God asks us to love each other, to take care of each other and especially the most vulnerable in our society," said Chávez. "This is true for the mission of MACC, especially in our work with our immigrant brothers and sisters."
Bishop Rodriguez praised the work of the new awardees. "Sister Maria Elena has been very instrumental, serving not only here in Texas but the entire country. Her good works have given MACC a national reputation in the work with Hispanics." About MACC, Bishop Rodriguez added "We wanted to mark the occasion of the 35th anniversary of its creation. The Bishops believe MACC has provided a wonderful service training leaders for pastoral work with the Hispanic community and with all their work and research on cultural diversity."
Past recipients of the award include renowned Hispanic theologian Father Virgilio Elizondo; Father Mario Vizcaino of the South East Pastoral Institute in Miami; Archbishop Roberto O. González of San Juan, Puerto Rico; the Instituto Nacional Hispano de Liturgia; Dr. Carmen Cervantes of Instituto Fe y Vida in California, Mr. Reynardo Malavé, former president of La Red Nacional de Pastoral Juvenil, and Mr. Ronaldo Cruz, who recently retired as long-time excutive director of the Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs of the USCCB.
The bishops general fall meeting will be November 12-15, at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Coverage of the meeting, and related events, will be open to credentialed media. Reporters seeking to cover the meeting can download a credential application form from the Web at http://www.usccb.org/comm/credentialform.pdf and submit it by November 5 via fax (202-541-3173) or mail it to:
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