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McGrath Institute for Church Life receives prestigious award

| Thursday, February 7, 2019

Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life will receive the 2019 “Lead. Learn. Proclaim.” award from the National Catholic Educational Association, to be presented at the NCEA’s conference this coming April. Presented annually, the award recognizes Catholic education institutions for exceptional achievements and dedication.

Dr. John C. Cavadini will attend the NCEA conference and accept the award on behalf of the McGrath Institute. Cavadini is the former chair of the Notre Dame Theology Department and was appointed director of the McGrath Center in 2000.

“The McGrath Institute is basically an outreach function of the University — outreach to the Church. The whole idea is to put the resources of the University at work for Church leadership,” Cavadini said.

The award is highly competitive, with over 150,000 institutions, administrators and diocesan leaders considered. The McGrath Institute was specifically recognized for its outreach to Church leaders, a group which Cavadini said includes a broader range of Catholics than simply bishops and priests.

“I believe our own students are potential leaders in the Church, and I don’t mean simply that they might be ordained,” Cavadini said. “Lay Catholics need to get more used to the idea that they are called to real leadership in the Church, and I want our students to have their imaginations expanded as to what they can do in leadership in the Church.”

The McGrath Institute seeks to apply the academic rigor for which Notre Dame theologians are known to various challenges facing Catholic educational institutions and parishes today. Founded in 1970 by Fr. Ted Hesburgh, in conjunction with founding director, Monsignor John J. Egan, the Institute encapsulates several centers and initiatives, including the Science and Religion Initiative, the Notre Dame Office of Human Dignity and a series of online theology courses aimed at current Church leaders. It also includes Notre Dame Vision, a popular program through which current Notre Dame students gather each summer to mentor high school students in spirituality and explore practices related to the Catholic faith.

“I think we’re unique,” Cavadini said. “There isn’t another institute for Church life quite the same as this one. That’s because Fr. Hesburgh founded it years ago … it had a different form when he first founded it, but the same aim of outreach. We’ve preserved that and tried to interpret it for our own times, but it’s Fr. Hesburgh’s essential and almost unrepeatable vision — which I’m very grateful for.”

While Dr. Cavadini will be formally accepting the LLP award as director of the Institute, he said that the award recognizes the work of the Institute as a whole, not just one individual.

“I’m most proud of the people who work here, because without them there’s really nothing,” he said. “You know, the award’s not for me … I am so proud to be able to work with them. They are like grace, and they deserve this award.”

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