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Diocese and Catholic Charities Honor Steve Wilcox

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Diocese and Catholic Charities Honor Steve Wilcox

Stephen A. Wilcox receives the first Saint John XXIII award from Catholic Charities of the East Bay and the Diocese of Oakland Medal of Merit

On June 12, 2014 the Diocese of Oakland and Catholic Charities of the East Bay (CCEB) honored Stephen A. Wilcox for a decade of remarkable CCEB volunteer leadership and support, most recently being the unpaid CEO of our agency for 9 months.  Among the audience were board members, family members, several special friends of Catholic Charities including The Vicar General Father Mockel and others who spoke of Steve's many gifts of time, talent, and treasure.  Fr. Mockel presented Steve with the diocesan Medal of Merit, and CCEB bestowed the inaugural St. John XXIII Award.

Steve was truly surprised. There were few dry eyes as the Award was announced and Steve accepted with his own heartfelt words. Cecilia Tonsing, Chief Development Officer of Catholic Charities, said, “How fortunate we are to have had two recent saints canonized. When the Board was looking at longer-term recognitions it was agreed that identifying St. John XXIII as the named award was a perfect opportunity. His life and work were well matched  for Catholic Charities.”

Many treasured comments were made about how Steve exemplifies what it means to be a philanthropist, a volunteer, and a board member, and [how he] rose to new and needed challenges such as being an unpaid staff member - in this case, as a CEO while a national search was in process for the new CEO. Others spoke of how Steve has inspired a caring love for the poor, modeled Christian values and demonstrated his deep religious faith in his daily life.

Fr. Mockel and Steve Wilcox 1 Fr. Mockel and Steve Wilcox 2 CCEB Award Steve Wilcox

About the Saint John XXIII Award

This award is designed to honor an individual whose work often reflects the characteristics and virtues of this recently- proclaimed saint. The award is given to an everyday man or woman who is called upon to perform one or more courageous acts, who symbolizes hope, and who exemplifies the spirit of Catholic Charities.

The CCEB Board of Directors can award this distinction from time to time, as the situation warrants. The first award was just made. It is hoped that it will become a wonderful new tradition for decades to come.

While the Church recognizes saints as individuals through whom we can catch a glimpse of traits Christ personified—and of what we are called to be—we must always remember that saints are also real people whom we can emulate.

Each awardee will remind us that everyday challenges and opportunities fall into our path, and they can be embraced for the good of others. They will embody one or more traits worthy of emulation.

Award candidates should reflect one or more of the following 7 virtues/traits:

1.   Simple and profound faith -- From the time he was a seminarian until the moment of his death, prayer was part of the Pope John XXIII daily life.

2. Virtue of hope to a heroic degreeA great legacy of the John XXIII papacy was convening the Second Vatican Council. Many, both inside and outside the Church, strongly urged him not to undertake such a daunting project, but he pressed ahead, precisely because of his luminous hope.

3. Ecumenism, justice, peace, and charity--This recently-proclaimed saint fostered fraternal relations with the Orthodox Church of the East, undertook more intense relations with the Anglicans and the diverse world of the Protestant churches, and set about laying the foundation for a new attitude in the Catholic Church toward the Jewish world, boldly opening the Church to dialogue and collaboration. He visited hospitals and prisons and in his charity was always close to the suffering and the poor of the Church and the world.

4. Humility--In his own words…“Anybody can be Pope; the proof of this is that I have become one.” Pope John XXIII

5.  A sense of pragmatism--Pragmatists, in the best sense, deal with matters thoughtfully yet realistically and in a way that is based on practical considerations.  Saint John XXIII epitomized this trait.

6.  A “no job too small or too big” mentality--During World War I, then-Father Roncalli served as a stretcher-bearer in the Italian army.  When he was 71, he was called to be a bishop.  At the age of 77, he was called by the College of Cardinals to be Pope.

7. Wit and spontaneity -- Perhaps his most famous quip was a spontaneous response to a journalist who asked him how many people worked in the Vatican. The pope replied, “Oh, no more than half of them.” Some Vatican insiders have remarked that this answer shows why people called him the “Good Pope John”. He always erred on the side of charity!

Candidates may be submitted by anyone at any time to the Saint John XXIII Award Committee. Approximately once a year, a committee appointed by the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities of the East Bay will review all submissions and make recommendations to the Board. The decision of the Board is final.