USCCB News Release
November 9, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chicago Young Adult Receives National Award For Empowerment Of Immigrants
WASHINGTON—Stephanie Garza, 25, was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award for her remarkable work with immigrant parents through the Southwest Organizing Project in Chicago. Bishop Roger P. Morin, Chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, praised the choice.
"Stephanie is a clear example of a young leader who is inspired by her faith to empower low-income people to work together to address the root causes of poverty in their communities. Her example and witness inspires us all, and I congratulate Stephanie and her family for the achievements that have led to this important honor," Morin said. Garza works with the Southwest Organizing Project, or SWOP, an organization that receives funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Garza runs the Parents as Mentors Program, an initiative in four Chicago public elementary schools that facilitates parent involvement in their children’s schools with the goal of engaging parents in addressing community issues.
The daughter of an immigrant father and a Mexican-American mother, Garza has a special connection with the program participants, most of whom are immigrant mothers. Garza described her work at SWOP as "developing leaders to speak and act on their own behalf, so low income people can bring change to their communities."
Garza is also an active leader in the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform in the Archdiocese of Chicago. She regularly leads educational workshops for parishes on the need for comprehensive immigration reform based on Gospel and Catholic social teaching values. Garza has played a leadership role in diocesan campaign events such as a bi-lingual retreat, a Corpus Christi celebration, and a postcard exchange between immigrant and non-immigrant parishes.
Elena Segura, director of the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform in the Archdiocese of Chicago, said, "We're blessed to count on Stephanie as one of our volunteers who inspires others with her commitment to bring the kingdom of God to our society, to build relationships, and to accompany undocumented immigrants, in a very pastoral way, in their quest for immigration reform."
Garza said of her own work, "A lot of immigrant families feel really isolated. The process to find solutions starts with creating relationships. As Catholics, we need to support families and communities. We need to act on our faith as advocates for one another."
CCHD will present Garza with the award on Monday, November 10, in Baltimore, during the Fall General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership award honors a Catholic between the ages of 18 and 30 who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions. It is named for the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, former archbishop of Chicago and a leading voice on behalf of poor and low-income people, who understood the need to build bridges across ethnic, economic, class and age barriers.
The award was established in 1998 by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a national program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. CCHD is one of the nation’s largest supporters of self-help, community-based programs initiated and led by the poor. Funded by an annual collection in Catholic parishes across the country, CCHD has distributed more than $280 million to more than 8,000 self-help projects over its 38 years. This year, CCHD announced almost $9.4 million in grants to support 301 local projects, selected without regard to religious affiliation, in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Editors: For more information about CCHD, visit www.usccb.org/cchd. For more information about the Bernardin Award, contact Jill Rauh at 202-541-3297.