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Dr. Carolyn Woo to speak at diocesan conference

A former head of Catholic Relief Services will be in Vermont to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at St. Michael's College on Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The conference will be the main event of the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation, a yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
 
Dr. Carolyn Woo, who from 2012-2016 was president and CEO of CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church's official, international humanitarian and development aid agency, will present a personal look at the encyclical she helped Pope Francis present in Rome, at environmental degradation and its effect on the poor and at measures to minimize further environmental harm from carbon emissions and remediate damage already done.
 
With perspectives from scientists, politicians, activists, economists, professionals, academics and people of various faiths, the conference will offer the opportunity for dynamic conversations about the state of creation and how people can work together for a sustainable future.
 
CRS staff “works face to face every day with the effects of climate warming,” Woo said. These include working with farmers whose livelihood is negatively impacted by erratic rainfall, which causes problems like drought on one extreme and soil erosion from deluges of rain on the other.
 
Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, it has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in over 100 countries on five continents.
 
Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. With that mission rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. In the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world.
 
Before working for CRS, Woo served from 1997 to 2011 as dean of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. During her tenure, the Mendoza College was recognized frequently as the nation’s leading business school in ethics education and research. It received and has retained top ranking from Bloomberg BusinessWeek since 2010 for its undergraduate business program.
 
Prior to the University of Notre Dame, Woo served as associate executive vice president for academic affairs at Purdue University.
 
She was one of five presenters in Rome at the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment in 2015.
 
Her faith journey and work at CRS are recounted in her book, “Working for a Better World,” published in 2015 by Our Sunday Visitor.
 
Representing CRS, Woo was featured in the May/June 2013 issue of Foreign Policy as one of the 500 most powerful people on the planet and one of only 33 in the category of “a force for good.” Her Catholic News Service monthly column took first place in the 2013 Catholic Press Association Awards in the category of Best Regular Column—Spiritual Life.
 
Woo was born and raised in Hong Kong and immigrated to the United States to attend Purdue University where she received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.
 
She is married to Dr. David E. Bartkus; they have two sons. Her parish is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.
 
The Vermont event at which she will be the keynote speaker is hosted by the Catholic Church in Vermont. Sponsors for the event include Catholic Relief Services; Oregon Catholic Press; St. Michael's College; the Sisters of Mercy; Catholic Climate Covenant; United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Peace, Justice and Human Development; Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel; Keurig Green Mountain Coffee; Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity and Green Mountain Monastery.
 
The conference at St. Michael’s College will be open to people of all faiths.
 
General registration is $35 per person and includes morning pastries, lunch and afternoon breakout sessions. Students can register for free.
 
For more information, call Stephanie Clary at 802-846-5822.

Originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
  • Published in Diocesan
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