The St. Norbert Ambassador of Peace Award Honoring St. Nobert's legacy of reconciliation, each year St. Norbert
College honors an individual who has been an influential advocate for
sustainable peace in our world. The St. Norbert Ambassador of Peace
demonstrates the qualities of a peacemaker in a consistent and
manner: respect for persons, promotion of dialogue, nonviolent conflict
resolution, reconciliation and forgiveness.
2012 St. Norbert Ambassador of Peace Award
Sept. 20, 2012 6:30 p.m. Wine & cheese reception 7:15 p.m. Award Ceremony 7:30 p.m. Lecture "Peacemakers In my Life - A Source of Inspiration"
Location: Ft. Howard Theater, Bemis International Center
The Most Reverend John R. Manz, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiosese of Chicago, is being honored by St. Norbert College with the 2012 St. Norbert Ambassador of Peace Award. Bishop Manz has enjoyed a long and exemplary ministry with migrant farmworkers, immigrants, and other Spanish-speaking Catholics.Born and raised in the Chicago area, he learned Spanish while working in the seminary kitchen alongside Mexican nuns. He then spent his summers landscaping with migrant workers from Texas and Mexico, whose friendship opened him up to an entirely new world. He spent the summer of 1968 working with Cesar Chavez in California and then living in a Texas border town, visiting migrant camps. He was ordained a priest in 1971, and all three of the parishes he served were made up predominantly of Mexican immigrants. He said of this ministry, “It started out on a personal level and gradually grew into something I felt very committed to, something I thought I could do to help out in some way. Once you begin to learn a language, it becomes no longer an abstract thing, and you get to know individuals, not just a social class of people.”
Bishop Manz wrote, “The best part of my work is meeting the people, talking to and listening to them. As a parish priest, we would have street masses usually every week in different parts of the neighborhood, many of which were still heavily gang infested. The people who lived on the block would kind of organize it. We would close down the street and have mass. Normally, we would get anywhere from a hundred to three hundred people. Often gang members would be on the fringes just kind of looking in and watching. We did that for years. I always found those masses enjoyable. It was kind of like taking it to the people. There would be little kids sitting on porch steps and running around. It reminded me of the kind of a thing I often saw in rural Mexico, where they often had mass outdoors, because the village church wasn’t big enough.
“Like the migrants, I too come from a humble background. My people are from farms and small towns. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time on the farm with my grandmother who was a very simple farm lady. Maybe it goes back to that. I learned from her and from others in my family that this is the way you look at the world, and that the work you do is not better or worse than anyone else. It’s hard to get an exalted opinion of yourself, working on a farm, when you are standing knee deep in manure.”
Bishop Manz has continued to focus on immigrants since being ordained a bishop in 1996. He has served as Chairman of the Committee for Church in Latin America of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and as the Episcopal Liaison to the Migrant Farmworker Apostolate. He is a member of the Migration and Refugee Services Committee, the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity In the Church, and the Committee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Travelers, and Refugees.
Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice & Public Understanding