Father Bryan Hehir Named President of Catholic Charities USA

The Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities USA has elected Father J. Bryan Hehir president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. Father Hehir currently serves as chair of the executive committee of the Harvard Divinity School and faculty member and a priest with the Archdiocese of Boston. He will be designated president in September at the organization’s 2001 Annual Conference and Sections Meetings in Newark, NJ. He will assume full-time duties on Jan. 1, 2002. Catholic Charities USA is one of the nation’s largest private networks of social service organizations, working to support families, reduce poverty, and build communities. Father Hehir takes over for Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., who has held the position since 1992. Father Kammer announced last June his intentions to step down in September, setting the stage for the board to conduct a year-long, national search for his replacement. "Throughout its 90-year history, Catholic Charities USA has been blessed with excellent leadership. The Board is honored to have someone with Father Hehir’s dedication and expertise continue that tradition," said G.L. (Larry) Blankinship, chair of Catholic Charities USA’s Board of Trustees. "I am deeply honored by the Board’s selection of me. I look forward to leading and working with the national staff of Catholic Charities USA and its diocesan affiliates around the country who have established a unique record in professional ministry to the poor, the vulnerable, and families nationwide," said Father Hehir. "Thirty-five years of my life as a priest has been lived at the intersection of the Church’s teaching role and its social ministry in the public arena of American society. The responsibilities ahead of me grow directly out of my academic work in Catholic social ethics and in public policy analysis. Harvard University has been a superb academic setting in which to pursue the work of teaching and research on religion, ethics, and public policy. Catholic Charities is a uniquely challenging organization to continue these themes in the service of the Church and society." Father Hehir has served as the head of Harvard Divinity School in the position of chair of the Executive Committee since 1998. He has been on the faculty of the Divinity School since 1993 as professor of the Practice in Religion and Society. He also has served as counselor at Catholic Relief Services since 1996. From 1973 to 1992, Father Hehir was assigned in Washington, DC, at the U.S. Catholic Conference. During this period he resided at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Falls Church. With the bishops’ conference he successively held positions as director of the Office of International Affairs; secretary of the Department of Social Development and World Peace; and counselor for Social Policy. From 1984 to 1992, he also served on the faculty at Georgetown University, holding teaching positions as the Joseph P. Kennedy Professor of Christian Ethics in the Kennedy Center for Ethics and as research professor of Ethics and International Politics in the School of Foreign Service. Father Hehir’s teaching, research, and policy work in the church over the last 30 years has focused on Catholic social teaching; the role of religion in American society and in world politics; and issues of social policy and foreign policy. In 1984, he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. He is the recipient of more than 25 honorary degrees from American colleges and universities. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Catholic Theological Society. Father Hehir also serves on the board of several organizations including the Arms Control Association and the Council for a Livable World. In his new position, Father Hehir will oversee the administration of Catholic Charities USA and its staff at its national service center in Alexandria; guide the policy direction of the organization; and serve as chief spokesperson for Catholic Charities USA with extensive public speaking engagements.

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