USCCB News Release
March 26, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Migration and Refugee Services Receives Romero Human Rights Award from University of Dayton
WASHINGTON—The University of Dayton, in Ohio, has announced that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS) is the recipient of the 2010 Archbishop Oscar Romero Human Rights Award. The Ceremony will take place March 29, at the Immaculate Conception Chapel of the university.
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration expressed gratitude upon receiving news of the award.
“I am very proud that MRS is receiving this award because it is an acknowledgment of the excellent work that the people in MRS have done for so long, often times without the recognition that they deserve,” Bishop Wester said. “I would also like to recognize the many institutions, associations, and individuals who work with us to welcome the strangers in our midst. Without their dedication and perseverance in these matters we would not be able to achieve the many successes have to date.”
In its official announcement, the University of Dayton cited the reasons for conferring this honor to MRS.
“Since 1975, Migration and Refugee Services has coordinated the resettlement of more than 800,000 refugees through dioceses nationwide. During the last decade, the department has advocated for laws to stiffen penalties for human traffickers and provide protection and relief to victims, and to increase Congressional appropriations for refugee protection and assistance.”
Ambassador Johnny Young, Migration and Refugee Services executive director, will accept the award on behalf of the agency while Bishop Wester will deliver the Romero Human Rights Award address with a reflection on “Whatever You Did for the Least of These.”
The Oscar Romero Human Rights Award was created in 2000 to honor the ministry and martyrdom of the late Salvadorean archbishop slain 30 years ago while officiating Mass at a hospital chapel, for his vocal defense of the human rights of the poor and disenfranchised and against violence. The award is presented to an individual or organization that has earned distinction for promotion of the dignity of all human beings and alleviation of the suffering of the human community in the spirit of Christian humanism.
Mark Ensalaco, the university’s human rights program director, reflected on the meaning of the award.
“We are trying to honor Romero’s ministry and martyrdom by addressing the very serious human rights issues we confront here and now," Ensalaco said. "We are focusing on the rights of migrants and refugees and the awful scourge of human trafficking which we know is taking place all around us. The selection of Migration and Refugee Services as this year’s award recipient is really an expression of the University of Dayton’s recognition of the importance of its work."
Past recipients of the University's Archbishop Romero Award include: Juan Méndez, president of the International Center for Transitional Justice and United Nations special representative on the prevention of genocide; Casa Alianza, which operates programs to help homeless and abandoned children in Central America, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua; Radhika Coomaraswamy, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women; Juan Guzman, the Chilean judge who prosecuted the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet; and Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Doctors Without Borders.
Keywords: Migration and Refugee Services, University of Dayton, Oscar Romero Human Rights Award, Archbishop Oscar Romero, human rights, social justice, Bishop John C. Wester, Ambassador Johnny Young, Mark Ensalaco