News Release

News Release Library
April 16, 2001

St. Edward's University to honor Bishop Emeritus John McCarthy with 2001 Mission Award

Retiring Austin Diocese bishop, Most Reverend John E. McCarthy, will receive St. Edward's University's 2001 Mission Award during a ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 19, in the Mabee Ballroom of the Robert and Pearle Ragsdale Center on campus.

The Most Reverend John McCarthy was appointed bishop of the Austin Diocese in December 1985 and installed in February 1986. He has served the Austin Diocese and the Austin community since 1986. In January 2001, Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation of Most Reverend John E. McCarthy.

Over the years, a number of social causes have been close to the bishop's heart, including poverty, education and preventing child abuse. In a December 1998 issue of the Catholic Spirit, Bishop McCarthy decried the state's policies on funding child protection, saying, "I have been appalled at the difference in public policy in this state between what we do in terms of prison expenditures and what we spend to protect children."

The Mission Award, given annually to individuals who embody the Mission of St. Edward's University, was created to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of those who have used their talents for the common goods. Bishop McCarthy joins a distinguished list of former Mission Award recipients including Ben Crenshaw (2000), Frank and Sue McBee (1999), Roger Staubach (1998), Tom Luce (1997), Former First Lady Barbara Bush (1996), Texas Comptroller John Sharpe (1995) and Congressman J.J. "Jake" Pickle (1994). The award is sponsored by the St. Edward's University Business Associates steering committee, a group of business leaders who serve as ambassadors for the university.

St. Edward's University, founded by the Congregation of Holy Cross, is an independent, Catholic, liberal arts university of 3,800 students in Austin, Texas.

PROFILE: The Most Reverend John McCarthy

Installed as bishop of the Austin Diocese in February 1986, the Most Reverend John McCarthy has served both the Austin Diocese and the greater Austin community through his commitment to social ministry and education for the past 15 years.

Since coming to Austin, Bishop McCarthy has seen the diocese grow from about 170,000 Catholics to more than 360,000 today, and the number of students in parish religious education programs has grown to almost 40,000. During his tenure, 20 new parishes were established, bringing the total number of parishes in the diocese to 126. While he saw the number of deacons increase from 35 in 1986 to just more than 200 in 2000, Bishop McCarthy has had to deal with the strain of having the same number of priests to serve a Catholic population that has doubled. The diocese of Austin, erected in 1948, comprises 19,511 square miles in the State of Texas in a total population of slightly more than 2 million.

While working for the U.S. Catholic Conference in the late 1960s, he helped forge the idea that ultimately became the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The program, operated by the U.S. Catholic bishops, is designed to empower the poor through self-help projects. A long time advocate for the poor, Bishop McCarthy developed a concept while pastor of St. Theresa's Parish in Houston that grew into parish social ministry – an idea that doing charity and justice outreach was the responsibility of the entire parish, not just a small group of parishioners. Through his leadership with the Austin Diocese, many parishes have developed full fledged social ministry outreaches. A diocesan office for Parish Social Ministry was established in 1991.

During his Austin tenure, more than 30 new church buildings have been built along with new student centers for universities in College Station, Waco and San Marcos. Although fewer Catholic hospitals exist in the diocese today than in 1986, the number of patients served has grown 400 percent. The Seton network based in Austin, St. Joseph's Health Center in Bryan and Providence Hospital in Waco have brought smaller clinics into their fold to ensure that charity care continues throughout the diocese.

This year, Bishop McCarthy retired from his post with the Austin Diocese. He intends to stay active in the things he loves to do, which includes leading retreats and offering lectures.

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