FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Koppisch, 215-219-3950
POWER Director to Receive St. Rita’s Peace Award
PHILADELPHIA – On Friday, May 2, 2014, the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia will bestow its 7th Annual St. Rita Peace Award on Bishop Dwayne Royster, the founding director of Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER), the region’s largest faith-based advocacy organization.
The National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia, located at Broad and Ellsworth Streets, was founded in 1907 and attracts thousands of pilgrims seeking peace and reconciliation every year, especially during the annual Solemn Novena celebrating the Feast of St. Rita every May. St. Rita is known for negotiating peace between warring families in medieval Italy.
To commemorate its 100th Anniversary in 2007, the Shrine established its Peace Award to recognize local community leaders engaged in exemplary works of peace and social justice promotion. Past recipients include Herman Bontrager for the forgiveness by the Amish of the Nickel Mines School massacre in 2006, Sr. Terisita Hennigan founder of Dawn’s Place Home for Trafficked Women, Judge Timothy Rice founder of the STAR Program for Ex-Offenders.
This year’s St. Rita Peace Award Recipient, Bishop Dwayne Royster, has led POWER since its founding in 2011 and has shepherded the organization’s 43 member congregations in several campaigns aimed at promoting justice and equity for low-wage, subcontracted service workers at the Philadelphia International Airport and for underfunded Philadelphia public schools. In addition to his work with POWER, Bishop Royster is pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ located in the Oxford Circle neighborhood and has been a leader in Heeding God’s Call, a faith-based organization that works to end the proliferation of illegal guns.
“Bishop Royster has proven himself an effective advocate for justice for the poor and a profoundly authentic proponent of fostering the principles of love and care for the poor” said Fr. Joseph Genito, Pastor of St. Rita of Cascia Parish and Director of the National Shrine, about the Peace Award Committee’s choice of Royster.
When asked about how his work with POWER is an example of peace promotion, Bishop Royster said “without a strong, fair living wage standard for workers, such workers are forced to turn to the social safety net, including food stamps and public health centers, all while enormous profits are generated at our Airport. This is unsustainable and contributes to unrest in many of our neighborhoods and families.”
Bishop Royster will receive the award at the Peace Banquet on Friday, May 2nd, 6:30pm, at Popi’s Restaurant, 3120 South 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145. For tickets or more information about the Banquet and Awards Ceremony call 215-546-8333.