Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Award Citation
June 26th, 2015
Carolyn Woo, Ph.D.
Cardinal Joseph Bernardin gives a succinct definition of ministry in his Pastoral Letter entitled In Service of One Another, given on Pentecost in 1985. He describes ministry this way: “Ministry is a specific activity supported and designated by the Church, which discloses the presence of God in some way in our human situation and empowers us to live more fully in the mystery of God—in communion with God and with one another” (Homilies and Documents, 36). Tonight, we celebrate a woman whose lifelong work culminates in the leadership of a ministry that reaches 93 countries and 130 million of the world’s poorest people. As President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community of the United States, Dr. Carolyn Woo is often thought of “the very face of Catholic female leadership in the United States,” according to a recent America magazine article. Indeed her ministry “discloses the presence of God in our human situation” at a grand scale. Because the outreach of CRS extends globally, dialogue is its most vital tool, and something that Dr. Woo represents and promotes in her leadership.
Recently, Dr. Woo has been recognized by Foreign Policy as one of the 500 Most Powerful People on the Planet in the “force for good” category, in the May/June 2013 issue. She was also awarded by the Catholic Press Association for her monthly column in Catholic News Service, which received Best Regular Column-Spiritual Life.
From 1997 to 2011, Dr. Woo served as the Dean of University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, which, under her leadership, was frequently recognized as leading the nation in ethics education and research. Prior to that, she served Purdue University as Associate Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Dr. Woo immigrated to the United States to attend Purdue University, where she received her B.S., M.S.I.A. and Ph.D. degrees, and then became a faculty member.
Alongside her leadership of Catholic Relief Services, Dr. Woo serves on many boards and advisory committees including Catholic Charities U.S.A., the Archdiocese of Baltimore Independent Child Abuse Review Board; Migration & Refugee Services Committee, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and the International Policy Committee, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to name only a few.
Dr. Woo is married to Dr. David E. Bartkus and they have two sons, Ryan and Justin.
With deep appreciation for her extraordinary contribution to “disclosing the presence of God in our human situation” on such a broad scope, the Catholic Common Ground Initiative is proud to present the 2015 Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Award to Dr. Carolyn Woo, on the twenty-sixth day of June, in the year of Our Lord two-thousand and fifteen.