March 27, 2009
Catholic Charities USA's Rev. Clarence Williams Honored by National
Pastoral Life Center
New York, NY-At a gala in New York City last night to celebrate its 25th
Anniversary, the National Pastoral Life Center honored Catholic
Charities USA's Rev. Clarence Williams, CPPS, PhD, with its Monsignor
Philip J. Murnion Faith in Culture Award for his outstanding
contribution to the Catholic Church.
"I am delighted that Father Clarence Williams is receiving the Msgr.
Philip Murnion Faith in Culture Award," said Rev. John E. Hurley, CSP,
executive director of National Pastoral Life Center. "When one thinks of
celebrating the richness of ethnic diversity, Father Clarence comes to
my mind immediately. He enables those willing to open their eyes to see
the diverse blessings that come from one other. He reminds us that no
culture is better than another and each has its history, its anguish,
shortcomings, and blessings. His voice is a blessing in our church and
At Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), Father Williams develops and conducts
comprehensive diversity and racial equality training for local agencies,
recommends CCUSA positions on diversity that best serve CCUSA and its
member agencies, and shares his Racial Sobriety approach for race
relations within the Catholic Charities network.
Most recently, Father Williams was instrumental in helping CCUSA develop
its paper, Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good
and launch a new Web page, E Pluribus Unum-Latin for "out of many, one."
This page promotes and facilitates conversation on poverty and racism.
"Msgr. Philip Murnion's passion for the inclusion of those on the
margins of parish communities was a light to - and a fire for - my
pastoral ministry over a 20-year period," Father Williams said. "I find
myself overwhelmed with the idea of receiving an award in his honor.
Receiving the award is a challenge to hold up the torch of his vision
which invites all people to take their place at the table of the Lord."
Father Williams joins four other Catholic professionals who were honored
for their outstanding contributions to the fields of media, culture, and
parish life, including Washington Post syndicated columnist, E.J.
Dionne, Jr.; actress, Agnes Nixon; executive director of the Hispanic
Catholic Center, Rudy Vargas, IV; and writer and advocate, Monsignor
Harry J. Byrne.
The National Pastoral Life Center serves the leadership of the church's
pastoral ministry, particularly in parishes and diocesan offices.
Founded in 1983 by Msgr. Philip J. Murnion with the encouragement of the
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Center assembles the best
of thinking and practice-through its studies, publications, consulting,
and conferences-contributing to reflective and effective pastoral
ministry. The work is carried out through a variety of programs,
projects, and associations.
Father Williams, who is a member of the Missionaries of the Precious
Blood, was the first black priest ordained in his hometown Diocese of
Cleveland. He has served for more than 30 years in the Archdiocese of
Detroit with assignments that included pastoral ministry, television
production, and directing the Black Catholic Ministries office.
Father Williams has a doctorate in Global Education and Cultural
Communication from the Union Institute & University in Cincinnati. He
established the Institute for Recovery from Racisms, which is dedicated
to training facilitators and designing programs to promote racial
Father Williams was the co-convener of Building Bridges in Black and
Brown, a national dialogue between the African American and Hispanic
American communities. He is also a collaborator with Rudy Vargas IV.
They worked on the Black and Brown dialogue and the U.S. Bishops'
Planning Committee for the Church's millennial celebration 2000. They
designed the dialogue encounters for racial, ethnic, and cultural
Fr. Williams is also the author of Recovery from Everyday Racisms;
Racial Sobriety: Becoming the change you want to see; and numerous
writings in journals and magazines.
To learn more about the award, visit
Catholic Charities USA's members-more than 1,700 local Catholic
Charities agencies and institutions nationwide-provide help and create
hope for nearly 8 million people a year regardless of religious, social,
or economic backgrounds. For almost 300 years, Catholic Charities
agencies have worked to reduce poverty by providing a myriad of vital
services in their communities, ranging from health care and job training
to food and housing. In 2010, Catholic Charities USA celebrates its
centennial anniversary. For more information, visit
Manager of Media Relations
Catholic Charities USA
Providing Help. Creating Hope.