Dr. Mike Gable
100 E 8th Street
Cincinnati OH 45202
(513) 421-3131 ext. 2630
Spirit of Sister Dorothy Stang Award
Dorothy Mae Stang, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur was murdered in Anapu, in the state of Pará, in the Amazon Basin of Brazil in February 2005. She was outspoken in her efforts on behalf of the poor and the environment.
Sister Dorothy was sent to Brazil in 1966 along with four other Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. In the early 70s, the Brazilian government offered land in the Amazon region to farmers who wished to move there. They were given land if they could develop it in a sustainable way. As they moved into the interior, Sister Dorothy followed the farmers, teaching them ways to live from the land while recycling the resources of the forest. Her ultimate dream was to have a certain area of the land designated as a federal reserve where the poor farmers would always be safe; where they could till the soil and establish their own income-producing businesses through sound, sustainable development. It was a simple dream with opposing consequences: while she was recognized globally for her work in defending the human rights of the poor, she became a target for those who wanted her work stopped. As threats to her life became more frequent and brazenly open, some suggested that it might be time for Sister Dorothy to leave Brazil. She disagreed. “I am grateful to Notre Dame for not asking me to leave,” she once wrote. “This shows we are aware of the needs of the poor. The Sisters have said they are worried about my safety. It is not my safety, but that of the people which matters.” For Sister Dorothy it was always about the people. Through the people her spirit and hope will forever live on.
On the morning of February 12, 2005, Dorothy and her friend Cicero, woke up early to walk to a community meeting to speak about the rights for the Amazon. Cicero, was delayed and was walking a bit behind Dot. As Dot walked, she was blocked by two armed men. They asked if she had any weapons, and she told them that the only weapon she had was her bible. She then read a passage from the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” Dot was murdered that day in that forest by those men, while she read to them from the Holy Gospel.
In 2010, in honor of the 5 year remembrance of her murder, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Archdiocesan Offices of Archdiocese of Cincinnati Offices for Mission, Catholic Social Action, Youth Evangelization & Discipleship, Young Adult Evangelization & Discipleship, and Evangelization & Discipleship initiated the Spirit of Sister Dorothy Stang Awards.
Melanie Brinkman – Mount Notre Dame High School A religion teacher, Melanie’s subject areas focus on service learning – including a class called Learning to Serve, in which she works with students and agencies to provide service learning opportunities. She models solidarity with the poor by living simply, seeking opportunities to connect with communities in need, and integrating social justice concerns into the school-wide curriculum. Melanie works with other departments in the school to help them find ways to integrate Catholic Social Teaching into their individual subject areas. She encourages the students to reflect on their experiences of service in light of Catholic Social Teaching, thus enabling them to connect Church teaching with the many ways they can be involved in their communities. Melanie demonstrates care for the earth with her stewardship of resources. She is teased at school for finding it difficult to dispose of things which comes from a place of wanting to re-use, re-cycle, and re-purpose. She has a deep appreciation for God’s creation, our responsibility to maintain it, and the gift we have in enjoying nature.
Lee Burroughs – Purcell Marian is a dedicated volunteer with the Lavatus Powell Program at Purcell Marian which helps students with a shortage of resources. The program helps with both academic needs as well as other issues that may interfere with a student’s success. His care for area gardens and the school grounds makes an impression on the students in their urban environment. He is a living example of Catholic Social Teachings to the students of Purcell Marian.
Deanna Spatz – St. Anthony Parish/MEAC A volunteer at the Madisonville Education & Assistance Center (MEAC) for many years, she regularly volunteers at MEAC’s food pantry and is a “delivery person” who doesn’t just move donations from one place to another. She engages with the people served. She is also a long-time member of St. Anthony Peace & Justice Committee, which maintains a continuous focus on solidarity with the poor and ways to transform society. Care for Creation is Deanna’s greatest passion. She regularly provides educational opportunities such as a discussion of Laudato Si. She is our liaison with the Catholic Climate Covenant and created the Beyond the Bin recycle program that takes recyclable items that cannot go curbside.
Restorative Justice Circles Jail Ministry – Queen of Apostles Parish For over 6 years members of Queen of Apostles Community have ministered in the Montgomery County Jail through the Restorative Justice practice of circles This ministry began following a Restorative Justice Circle Training conducted in 2009 by Frs. Dave Kelly, CPPS and Bill Nordenbrock, CPPS of the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago. Restorative Justice emphasizes healing the harm that has been caused by a crime and which often precedes a crime, as opposed to punishing, which is the hallmark of the retributive system of justice.
Nominations for the Spirit of Sister Dorothy Stang Awards in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are available in January of each year on our website. They are for High School seniors, school faculty, staff and volunteers and parish staff and volunteers. Nomination forms are available at our website.
In light of the Holy Father’s Laudato Si, we have updated the award. For our application and enhanced criteria, please download the proper application: