Panelists: Mary Susanne Dziedzic, CSSF., José Lopez, Digna R. López, and John Hatcher, SJ
Moderator: Dean Mark Massa, SJ

How do we put into action Pope Francis' call to be advocates for the poor and agents of change?  This event spotlights the experience of U.S. Catholics who put this call into action on a daily basis.  Panelists will share compelling stories about the work they do to transform the lives of people in some of America’s poorest communities.  These include an ecumenical movement jump-started in the poorest county in South Carolina; work in California to keep the Church present for young people as an alternative to drugs and violence; and life-changing efforts to promote sobriety and build community on a Lakota reservation while maintaining their traditions.

Panelists are honorees of Catholic Extension's Lumen Christi Award, which recognizes the unsung heroes who serve in the country's most under-resourced dioceses and foster Catholic communities that build faith, inspire hope, and ignite change.  In addition to the Lumen Christi Award honorees, participants will hear from those mentored or inspired by their leadership.

Sponsored by Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and Catholic Extension, which works to strengthen the Catholic Church in the United States.

Moderator, Mark Massa, SJ, is dean of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and professor of Church history.

Presenter Profiles

Lumen Christi Award WinnerSister Mary Susanne Dziedzic, CSSF, Felician Sister serving in Kingstree, South Carolina
The Felician Sisters arrived in Kingstree, a rural, impoverished town, more than 20 years ago. The sisters began their outreach with an after-school tutoring program for neighborhood children. Their ministry continued with a food pantry, clothing closet, hot meal program, cooking classes, home repair program, legal advocacy and medical services. Despite an environment of deeply ingrained mistrust and fear, the sisters brought churches together, and created an army of volunteers from 11 different denominations. Sister Dziedzic and fellow Felician Sisters Mary Jacqueline Benbenek, CSSF, and Mary Johnna Ciezboka, CSSF, received Catholic Extension’s 2012 Lumen Christi Award.

Lumen Christi Award WinnerJosé Lopez and his wife Digna R. López, Director of Migrant Ministry and Director of Hispanic Ministry, respectively, in the Diocese of Stockton, California
Both immigrants from Mexico, José and Digna Lopez serve a diocese that is home to migrant workers and a growing, youthful Latino population. They train and support more than 15,000 people annually.  They also are deeply involved in programs that give young people alternatives to lives of drugs and violence. In addition, they serve as visible advocates for these youth and for migrant workers, making sure their voices are heard. They received Catholic Extension’s Lumen Christi Award in 2013.

Lumen Christi Award WinnerReverend John Hatcher, SJ, President, St. Francis Mission, St. Francis, South Dakota
Rev. John Hatcher, S.J. has served as head of the St. Francis Mission, a Jesuit ministry among the 20,000 Lakota (Sioux) people on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, for 10 years. Father Hatcher has revitalized six parishes, urging people to more fully participate in parish life and bring the gift of their culture to the universal Church. Father Hatcher also launched two recovery centers that have helped more than 300 families maintain sobriety. He has instituted religious education programs that serve more than 400 children per week, and he has developed Lakota leaders who successfully manage the mission’s programs: two recovery centers, four religious education centers, a suicide hot line, a dental clinic, a radio station and a museum. Father Hatcher was named a finalist for Catholic Extension’s Lumen Christi Award in 2012.