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CRISPAZ names scholarship for Archbishop Pilarczyk

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Friday, June 19, 2009

By Carmen M. Hubbard

CATHEDRAL DEANERY — Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk is the namesake for a new scholarship available through Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ) that will assist the organization’s volunteers.

CRISPAZ is a faith-based, non-partisan organization that has worked for the past 25 years to promote solidarity between the church of the poor and marginalized communities in El Salvador, the United States and other countries. Its board members requested the use of the archbishop’s name last fall to establish the Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk Scholarship.

CRISPAZ volunteers Melissa Pare and Tom Rokow, far right, pose for a photo with CRISPAZ El Salvador director Antonio Canaz at the community named Guillermo Ungo. (Courtesy photo)

“I was pleased to hear that CRISPAZ plans to name a scholarship in my honor. I understand that the scholarship will benefit volunteers in need of financial assistance to travel to El Salvador,” Archbishop Pilarczyk said. “As CRISPAZ continues to build bridges of solidarity with the marginalized communities in El Salvador, I pray that the volunteers supported by this scholarship will carry on the mission of Christians for Peace in El Salvador.”

In 1984 a Catholic priest, a Lutheran minister and a Quaker laywoman founded CRISPAZ and implemented the mission for volunteers to remain committed to nonviolence and support the faith journeys of one another, according to executive director Dennis O’Connor.

“We are trying to be ecumenical in that regard. El Salvador is largely a Catholic nation,” O’Connor said. “Archbishop Pilarczyk stepped out on a limb to support us. He really understands what CRISPAZ does. The scholarship is a way that we want to thank him. He understands what we’ve done in El Salvador. I hope he’ll come down with us for a delegation.”

Volunteers, who are typically American college students, participate in the program with an understanding of mutual accompaniment, striving for peace, justice, sustainability and human liberation in El Salvador. Volunteer programs include ministry and immersion experiences, either for the summer or long term. CRISPAZ is located in the Peaslee Neighborhood Center in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine.

Donations for the scholarship are currently being collected and will be available for the 2009-10 internship. With a scholarship, CRISPAZ could cover up to 50 percent of travel expenses for volunteers, O’Connor said.

Given the organization’s longevity, Jesuit colleges from across the country, including Xavier University and Boston College, have had a long-standing partnership with CRISPAZ, O’Connor said.

“Historically, we’ve had people to fundraise,” he said. “But we were concerned about not having anybody because they couldn’t afford to go. Archbishop Pilarczyk has always been supportive of missions.”

Deacon Don Meyer of St. John the Baptist Parish in Harrison is board president of CRISPAZ. His children volunteered in El Salvador while they were in college.

“These young folks are college students. In most instances, they’re looking to deepen their faith and have an opportunity to live in a poor, developing country — to work and make a contribution where people live,” he said.
Meyer visits El Salvador every year with his parish as part of a twinning program with two parishes outside of San Salvador, the country’s capital.

“Our mission and function is to build a bridge of solidarity from North America and with the people of El Salvador. A lot of times Catholics don’t understand solidarity is a virtue … to bring peace and justice to El Salvador,” Meyer said.

For more information about CRISPAZ or to make a donation, contact O’Connor at 513-381-4520.

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