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Casa Juan Diego Founders Given Faithful Citizenship Award

The Center for Faith and Culture awarded Louise and Mark Zwick, founders of the Casa Juan Diego in Houston, with the Faithful Citizenship Award at the Third Annual Faithful Citizenship Dinner & Lecture on Oct. 1 at River Oaks Country Club. The Center also welcomed the Rev. Drew Christiansen, S.J., former editor-in-chief of America magazine, to speak about “Pacem in Terris.”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, provided an invocation and said the Center is “doing the work of the Lord.”

The Most Rev. Joseph Fiorenza, former archbishop, presented the Faithful Citizenship award to the Zwicks, who founded their house hospitality 30 years ago to serve immigrants, refugees and the poor. The Center confers the award on people who are led by the Holy Spirit and who manifest the Incarnate Love of God for this world in their lives and actions as Catholics.

Archbishop Fiorenza said the Zwicks provide works of love to those most in need, offering “mercy without borders,” and 50,000 people have passed through the doors of Casa Juan Diego since it opened.

“I think the Center for Faith and Culture made a good choice in awarding Mark and Louise with the Faithful Citizenship award,” Fiorenza said.

Fr. Christiansen, a Jesuit priest and visiting scholar in the Theology Department at Boston College, spoke about “Pacem in Terris,” an encyclical he described as Pope John XXIII’s last will and testament. In January, Fr. Christiansen will take on a new responsibility at Georgetown University as Distinguished Professor of Ethivs and Global Human Development at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and as a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.

Fr. Christiansen said the encyclical draws on the signs of the times and brought a new sensibility and a summary of contemporary trends. He described Pope John XXIII’s concern for equality of workers, women and minorities; political conviction; and world peace by resolving disputes through negotiation and no nuclear war.

Fr. Christiansen said people have the responsibility to discern the signs of the times in their communities, through face-to-face communication and discernment. Looking at signs of the times means reading contemporary history through the sufferings and aspirations of people in light of the Gospel.

The Jesuit said the recent popular opposition to force in Syria may be a signal that opposition of force is a sign of the times. He said that peace is more than the absence of war, but aiding the poor and working to protect human rights promotes peace.

“When human rights are not respected and promoted, true peace cannot be,” he said.

Fr. Christiansen said as a Jesuit, Pope Francis has a discernment focus, and one can ask him or herself three questions: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What shall I do for Christ?

“Just as Pope Francis discerns with the cardinals, the Zwicks and the people of Casa Juan Diego will be discerning the signs of the times,” Fr. Christiansen said.

The chairs of the Faithful Citizenship Dinner and Lecture were Ginger and John Niemann, and the event proceeds benefit scholarships and programs of the Center.

The Center for Faith and Culture seeks to understand and affect the relationship between the Gospel and the American way of life in relation to God’s ongoing encounter with humanity in the light of faith. The Center provides community outreach through parishes, symposia and ecumenical outreach. The Center also offers the Master of Arts in Faith and Culture, which seeks to inform students about what it means to be faithful citizens in our culture.


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