University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns recognizes her leadership with award
by Sister Joy O’Grady, CSC
It has been said that leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality by talented people working together.
On March 25, 2021, the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns recognized Sister Judith Anne Beattie, CSC, and presented her an award for her leadership in contributing to the vision and creation of the center, in partnership with Father Don McNeill, CSC, some 40 years ago.
The award was appropriately given on the 50th anniversary of “Justice in the World,” the document at the foundation of Catholic social teaching that was written by the World Synod of Bishops.
In his introduction, Bill Purcell, acting executive director of the center and director of the Department of Catholic Social Tradition, spoke of Sister Judith Anne as an exemplar of social justice. He cited her deep spirituality and her various ministry positions—nurse, director of Volunteer Services at Notre Dame, where she organized student groups to take on projects in economically challenged communities, and co-director of the Center for Social Concerns, where she led the service-learning aspect of the center—as paths that enabled her prophetic voice to impact the lives of students and people in poverty.
In her remarks, Sister Judith Anne shared that the inspiration for the center emerged out of the call in Micah to “act justly, live mercifully, and walk humbly with your God,” and the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes, which “speaks of the baptismal call to discipleship of all believers, active participation of the laity in the life of the Church, and the challenge to read the signs of the times, including identifying the injustices present.” In turn, she adds, “The center’s mission was to educate and form students through theology courses that focused on Catholic social tradition, various social justice issues, and service.”
Sister Judith Anne expressed her gratitude to Father Don McNeill, co-founder of the center, and Father Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, former president of the university, who listened to their vision, endorsed and supported it, and to the dedicated lay staff who believed in the vision and helped to implement the mission.
In her closing remarks, Sister Judith Anne said, “I am honored and deeply grateful to receive this award. … It gives me great joy to see how the mission of the center not only continues, but has grown and continues to be carefully tended.”
Congratulations to Sister Judith Anne and to the Congregations of Holy Cross. A video of the 2021 Catholic Social Tradition Conference on March 25-27, including the award presentation to Sister Judith Anne, is available for viewing.