CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 December 2017

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Father Cullen recognised

KERKRADE (SE): Regular columnist for the Sunday Examiner and longtime advocate for the rights of children, indigenous people and the abused, Father Shay Cullen, was presented with the Martin Buber Plaque Award in recognition of his work at a ceremony in Kerkrade as part of the International Festival of Dialogue in the Netherlands on November 17.
 
Buber was a Jewish philosopher and strong advocate of peace through dialogue, mutual recognition of human rights and dignity. He worked for a united Jewish and Palestinian state and became internationally known for his dialogue principle, a way of thinking that implies that one human being (I) really perceives and accepts the other as YOU.
 
Buber died in 1965 and the prestigious award in his memory was initiated in 2002, with the German foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, as the inaugural recipient.
 
Father Cullen is the founder of the Peoples Recovery Empowerment Development Assistance Foundation in Olongapo in The Philippines. Founded in the 1970s next to the giant United States of America naval base, Subic Bay, it has run services for the drug addicted, women and children abused in the brothels, and children who are victims of abuse, parental desertion and trafficking.
 
It also runs several fair trade projects, which promote cottage industry and recycling of waste materials as various saleable products, which now has an international market in the European Union, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
 
Father Cullen published a book in 2006 titled the Passion and the Power, featuring a forward by the former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and an endorsement from Hollywood actor, Martin Sheen.
 
The Irish Columban has been the recipient of several international awards and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on four occasions.
 
The author of The Legacy of Irish Missionaries Lives On, Matt Moran, says, “Father Shay represents the very best in the life-changing work of our missionaries throughout the world.”
 
Moran continues, “Preventing the abuse of women and children at the hands of human traffickers and their own governments is his life’s work. His mission for justice and peace is ecumenical in reach. It is based on taking a stand for human rights and protecting the dignity of every person, in particular exploited women, children and youth. It is wonderful to see his efforts being recognised internationally.”
 
Father Cullen says that the awards are not really in recognition of his own efforts, but honour the courage of the many who have no voice to raise in their own defence, yet struggle to overcome adversity.
 
In receiving the Martin Buber Award he said, “They are here on centre stage.”

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