By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
A message of worship, faith and witness to serve our neighbors, presented by Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), will highlight the 20th Iowa Institute for Social Action. The institute will be held Jan. 18-19 at Ss. John & Paul Parish in Altoona.
Woo’s keynote address is titled “Care for Neighbors Integral to Worship, Faith and Witness.” She will give examples of how CRS lifts up the dignity of the last, least and left-behind to fashion sustainable solutions that take people out of poverty, said Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC).
Besides the keynote, a variety of breakout sessions will help prepare leaders to advocate for the social concerns of the Catholic Church, he noted. The institute is sponsored by the ICC and Iowa’s four dioceses.
Kent Ferris, director of Social Action and Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Davenport, said the institute chooses from a variety of national leaders who haven’t recently visited the Iowa dioceses in order to keep topics fresh. Woo spoke at the World Food Prize dialogue in Iowa in 2012 and her name was one of the first ones that came up to speak for the institute, Chapman said.
Father Jacob Greiner, pastor of parishes in Knoxville and Melcher, took a business ethics class with Woo when he attended the University of Notre Dame. “There were over 150 students in the class, so I had very little personal contact with her during the class. However, since I was a seminarian with the Congregation of Holy Cross and I worked for the advancement office at the university, I did have the opportunity to talk with Dr. Woo on several occasions.”
He said Woo took the Business School at Notre Dame to top-10 status during her tenure, and it was number one several times. “This speaks to her management abilities. Furthermore, she could make an incredible amount of money in private industry because of her credentials, but I heard her say on numerous occasions she wants to use her talents and gifts to teach others, especially in order to tell others about the intersection between our faith and business. She is passionate, kind, caring and accomplished.
“Dr. Woo speaks from her vast experience, and since she is originally from Hong Kong, she provides international insights that I always found interesting and compelling. I believe we are honored that she is coming to Iowa to address the gathering,” Fr. Greiner said.
Chapman said the Iowa Institute of Social Action is a leadership training event to help Catholics prepare to advocate for social concerns of the Church in the public arena.
“Many Catholics are interested in getting involved with advocacy, but they want to make sure they have solid information before they talk with legislators. Sometimes they’re nervous about making any contacts with legislators at all. We want to help people inform their conscience and be comfortable in taking action on important issues.”
Chapman said to mark your calendars for the institute. Registration and housing information will be available in the future.