NEARLY 1 MILLION SERVED: 45 YEARS DEDICATED TO DIGNIFYING IMMIGRATION
While fast-food restaurants boast of how many customers have consumed their greasy burgers in record-fast times, the Spanish Catholic Center of the Archdiocese of Washington could boast of how many immigrants have received healthcare, counseling, language and employment services there since it opened its doors in 1967 — nearly a million. Through the center, many ethnic groups — not only the Hispanic community — have been brought together and helped to offer a valid, unique contribution to the life of the city. The center’s in-depth, holistic and multicultural approach is reflected in its concrete works throughout the metropolitan community.
That is why on November 17, more than 250 diplomats, politicians, representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith and others of no particular faith tradition gathered at The Catholic University of America in Washington to witness the conferral of the 2012 Luminosa Award for Unity on the Spanish Catholic Center.
“This prize encourages us even more to illuminate the darkness around usthrough service to our neighbor,” said the center’s director Rev. Mario Dorsonville, Vice President of Mission, Director of Immigration and Refugee, in his acceptance of the recognition.
As the award was sponsored by the Focolare Movement, during the conferral ceremony, Marco Desalvo and Clare Zanzucchi, Focolare Co-Directors of the eastern region of the United States, shared a reflection by the movement’s founder, Chiara Lubich (1920-2008), on love of neighbor, one of the pearls of the Focolare spirituality of unity:
“The Holy Spirit, enlightening us with his charism, said to us:’ your brother, your sister… can become your way to God, an opening, a door, a path, a passageway that leads to union with Him. And if we have gained this by loving our neighbors, they are not only our beneficiaries, but our benefactors as well; they have given us the best of what we had hoped for.’”
Very in tune with the experience of the Spanish Catholic Center, this reading strongly resonated in those present, affirming and giving light to their day-to-day work in favor of those in need.
The Luminosa Award for Unity of the Focolare, established in 1987, honors persons or associations whose lives and works have given a significant contribution to building bridges of mutual understanding and concern among diverse Christian denominations, major faith traditions and people of good will in all aspects of social life. Past recipients of this award include Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Cardinal John O’Connor of New York and other bishops, Protestant ecumenists, rabbis and Jews working for dialogue and peace, imams and Muslim faithful, Japanese Buddhist holy men and scholars, Hindus, even a Canadian statesman seeking disarmament. (Every continent but Australia is represented by this diverse group so far). The king of the Bangwa people came from Cameroon to receive the prize in 2001. A couple of Hollywood directors and script writers received the prize in California.