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UST Center for Faith and Culture Celebrates Faithful Citizenship

John Allen FundraiserAbout 130 friends, supporters and students of the University of St. Thomas Center for Faith and Culture gathered at the Cathedral Centre on Oct. 3 to celebrate faithful citizenship and to gain insight into the worldwide Catholic Church from the world’s pre-eminent Vatican analyst, John Allen, Jr.

The first ever Faithful Citizenship Award Dinner and Lecture was chaired by Judy and Darby Seré. The event netted just over $100,000 to help support the mission and programs of the Center for Faith and Culture including its recently inaugurated Master of Arts degree in Faith and Culture — the only degree of its kind in the country.  Before the program began, guests mingled on the Centre’s rooftop terrace as the sun set behind Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and the downtown skyline.

The Faithful Citizen award recognizes leaders of faith and culture who are a light in the midst of our way of life. The inaugural presentation of this award went to Joe Tortorice, Jr., founder and CEO of Jason’s Deli. Tortorice lives his Catholic faith as a devoted father, husband, friend and employer. He has been widely recognized for practicing servant leadership with his employees, fostering a culture of encouragement, humility, gratitude, generosity, accountability and commitment. 

The presentation of the award was followed by Allen’s witty lecture, “Faithful Citizenship in the 21st Century:  Three Core Challenges for American Catholics.” He is the senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, senior Vatican analyst for CNN and author of six best-selling books on the Vatican. Guests were treated to a copy of Allen’s book, “The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church.”Allen also presented the Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Lecture, “Religious Freedom: Its Roots in Catholic Thought and its Place in Vatican Diplomacy,” on Oct. 4 on the University of St. Thomas campus.

Guests in attendance were John L. Allen, Jr.; Patty and Craig Biggio; Jack and Ginger Blanton; Debbie and Charlie Chambers; Daniel Cardinal DiNardo; Jan Duncan; Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza; Marianne and University President Dr. Robert Ivany; Michele Malloy, Center for Faith and Culture Director Father Donald Nesti, CSSp, Commissioner Steve and Chief Justice Sherry Radack; Bishop Vincent Rizzotto; Regina Rogers; Darby and Judy Seré; Linda and Edward Speed; Joe Tortorice, Jr, and wife Shelley and Raye G. White. Special recognition goes to event underwriters Linda and Edward Speed and Raye G. White.

For more than 18 years, the Center for Faith and Culture has offered conferences, symposia, inter-religious dialogue and parish outreach programs, and now an MA in Faith all Culture — all dedicated to facilitating an interaction between faith and American culture and the formation of faithful citizenship.    

 Shown above left to right: UST President Dr. Robert Ivany, Joe Tortorice, Jr., Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza, John Allen, Jr. and Father Donald Nesti, CSSp.

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The University of St. Thomas, dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education. St. Thomas is Houston’s only Catholic University and was founded by the Basilian Fathers in 1947.
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