The Caritas Awards are given annually to persons or organizations) in recognition of outstanding service and love for humanity. The design of the Caritas Award statue reflects the purpose of the award and the recognition it seeks to give. The heart-shaped Caritas Award, with a nesting pelican surrounded by her young atop the heart, is our witness to the worthiness of its recipients.
A word of explanation is in order with regards to the symbolism of the heart, the pelican and the word "Caritas" itself. The word caritas is Latin and translates as "love" or "charity". It was chosen to symbolize that the recipient is a person who has demonstrated great love and caring for his or her brothers and sisters. The heart is a widely recognized sign of love, and as such is a further reinforcement of the choice of the word "Caritas". The pelican nesting with her young and providing them nourishment is also a symbol of love, demonstrating the unselfish love of a mother for her young and her willingness to give of herself for the survival and growth of her loved ones. The pelican is as well known a symbol of love in religious communities as the heart is to lay persons.
The threefold reinforcement then of the word "Caritas" along with the symbolism of the heart and the pelican form our own triad or trinity of love, the Caritas Award.
The purpose of the Caritas Award is to recognize an individual and/or organization who has, by example and deed, served persons in need and/or advocated for justice and/or convened other persons of good will to do the same in a manner consistent with Catholic Social Teaching. The Catholic Charities Agencies of our Diocese are committed to a threefold mission of service, advocacy, and inspiring. In selecting a recipient(s) for the annual Caritas Award, the Awards Committee seeks to identify persons and/or organizations who have made significant contributions and/or accomplishments in one or more of the following three areas:
- Service - The recipient, with love and a desire to serve as a witness to Christ's love for all people, has by word and deed sought to be of service wherever there is need or pain. Service could be in response to needs caused by external oppression, interpersonal breakdowns, family breakdowns and/or intrapersonal problems. Such service should provide assistance to people of all socioeconomic groups, but especially for the neediest and most vulnerable.
- Advocacy - The recipient, in word and in deed, seeks to foster a social order which is grounded in truth; and functions according to the norms of justice; is inspired and perfected by mutual love; and is realized in freedom. The recipient works towards a just social order. He or she strives to raise the consciousness of people of good will everywhere, of our elected officials, but especially the community at large, so that they will be more fully informed as to the breadth and depth of social problems, the strengths and weaknesses of our social structures and situations; and thereby be better prepared to take needed actions to foster a more just social order.
- Inspiring - The recipient, in word and deed encourages, motivates and/or persuades others to provide needed services and to work with other people or groups of people to both directly provide service and to advocate for justice.
New Caritas Awards nominating process and award categories to be announced in the near future.