Catholic Volunteer Network Honors the InterReligious Task Force on Central America with the Annual Mader Award
The Father George Mader Award was created in 1989 to honor organizations and individuals that encourage lay men and women to serve others in the United States and abroad. The award is named after Father George Mader (1927 – 2018) of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. He and his sister, Patricia Mader Stalker, founded what is today known as Catholic Volunteer Network. Ordained as a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark in 1959, Father Mader began his first assignments in parish ministry. Inspired by Patricia’s experience serving as a volunteer in Statesville, North Carolina, he founded the Newark Liaison for Lay Volunteers in Mission (later to be re-named as Catholic Volunteer Network) in 1963. He envisioned a “Catholic Peace Corps” and set out to recruit, screen, and place volunteer teachers, nurses and doctors, agriculturists, social workers, carpenters, and others in areas of need. Father Mader remained director until 1978, when he appointed a lay director for the program. He went on to spend the next 35 years serving in various ministries including diocesan leadership roles, education, and campus ministry.
On November 7, 2019, during the National Conference on Faith-Based Service in Cleveland, Ohio, Catholic Volunteer Network awarded the 2019 Mader Award to the InterReligious Task Force on Central America.
The InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) is a Cleveland-based interfaith group that promotes peace and human rights in Central America and Colombia. People of faith and conscience founded IRTF after the 1980 execution of four U.S. church women in El Salvador by U.S.-trained soldiers. (The Cleveland mission team lost Jean Donovan and Sister Dorothy Kazel.)
Carrying on the legacy of the martyrs, IRTF educates, advocates, and organizes for peace and human rights, economic justice, and aid to Central Americans and Colombians. IRTF works to change U.S. policies, corporate actions, and consumer behaviors that undermine these aspirations, both here and abroad. The Task Force is an interfaith group with the following mission:
- To follow our various faith teachings, commitments, and convictions which call us to promote justice and peace with the people of Central America.
- To advocate for human rights, self-determination, economic justice and peace based on nonviolent systemic changes, instead of militarized approaches in the region and in U.S. policy.
- To build bridges of solidarity, especially between faith communities, with the most consistently martyred and oppressed peoples in our hemisphere.
Over the years, IRTF has been the placement site for year-long volunteers from many different programs serving in the Cleveland area.
For more information about the work of IRTF, please visit their website.