Catholic Volunteer Network fosters and promotes full-time domestic and international faith-based volunteer service opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds, and skills. As the leading membership organization of Christian volunteer and mission programs, we support and enhance the work of our members through volunteer recruitment, training and resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy.
Through service rooted in faith, all will know the opportunity to impact the world and be transformed.
Our Core Values
We work from Gospel-based principles.
We promote social justice for all, standing in solidarity with the poor.
We advocate on behalf of faith-based volunteerism.
We strive to be inclusive and collaborative.
We commit to excellence in the quality of our services.
We steward our fiscal resources with care and gratitude.
Our Commitment to Diversity and Racial Justice
Catholic Volunteer Network respects and upholds the dignity of all persons regardless of the identities they hold. As we expand our conversations and programming with our members about present day structural injustices and their ties to oppressive histories, CVN dedicates itself to pairing those discussions with action to stop our own participation in the systems of oppression.
We believe that creating a just and diverse environment is more than an ideal. These are our core commitments that we invite our members to share:
- We strive to create space for all persons to serve within the CVN community – regardless of differences.
- We welcome persons of every race, religion, culture, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or emotional ability, immigration status, economic situation, and family composition.
- We celebrate all persons regardless of where they may be on their spiritual journey. We value persons of all faith traditions, those with no faith tradition, as well as those who are questioning and exploring.
- We are guided by the light of goodwill, humility, and hospitality as we work to extend volunteer opportunities to all persons in all places.
- Our Christian roots form the foundation of our core commitments. We work to be a community that follows Jesus’ example. We stand in agreement with Catholic Social Teaching, which upholds the life, dignity, and equality of all human beings.
Our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan
During the next three years, CVN will strive to articulate why faith-based service is compelling to potential volunteers, the Church, and partners – and how to ensure continued growth and impact. We will discern new approaches with a commitment to: 1) marketing; 2)transition; 3) diversity; and 4) fundraising.
Bishop Oscar Azarcon Solis
Bishop of Salt Lake City
Ms. Monica Thom Konschnik
Catholic Apostolate Center
Ms. Valarie Amica
Catholic Volunteers in Florida
Mr. Tom Branen
America's Service Commissions
Ms. Adrienne Andrews
Notre Dame Mission Volunteers
Ms. Heidi Mareburger Aspinwall
Young Adult Missional Movement
Rev. Glenn Balzer
First Mennonite Church of Denver
Ms. Phyllis Barker
Mr. Maka Akan Najin Clifford
Red Cloud Indian School
Pine Ridge, SD
Mr. Colin Crowell
Mr. Evan Cuthbert
Rostro de Cristo
Ms. Kate Daly
Chestnut Hill, MA
Mr. Tom King
Los Angeles, CA
Mr. Alexander LaPoint
Mr. Ronald Smith
Ms. Marian Uba
Mercy Volunteer Corps
Gwynedd Valley, PA
Sr. Caroljean Willie
Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati
Begun in the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark (New Jersey) in 1963, Catholic Volunteer Network was originally known as the Newark Liaison Foreign and Domestic Lay Apostolate. Fr. George Mader, a priest of the Archdiocese, petitioned then Archbishop Thomas Boland, for permission to begin a “Church Peace Corps” after his sister, Patricia, had served for a year as a volunteer in Farmville, North Carolina with the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. He wanted to promote such lay volunteer service and to encourage others to support it.
The first issue of RESPONSE, a directory of faith-based volunteer opportunities, was published in 1965 (and continues to this day). In 1971, the organization, by then known as Newark International Liaison, was first listed in the Official Catholic Directory. Two years later, International Liaison became a “coalition” of various mission agencies, the purpose of which was to act as an instrument through which policies might be recommended and issues discussed.
In 1975, the organization, by then called the International Liaison for Lay Volunteer Ministry (ILLVM), moved to Washington, DC. That same year, Bishop Joseph Francis, SVD, auxiliary bishop of Newark, became the organization’s Episcopal Advisor, a role he carried out until his death in 1997. In 1978, ILLVM hosted its first annual conference. In 1982, the organization’s name was changed to the International Liaison of Lay Volunteers in Mission (ILLVIM). The Father George Mader Award was instituted in 1988, in honor of the founder, to recognize individuals or groups that have been exemplary in fostering lay volunteer service. Fr. Mader passed away in June 2018, click here to read our tribute to his life and legacy.
In its thirtieth anniversary year, 1993, the organization once again changed its name to Catholic Network of Volunteer Service, a name that remained in place until 2010, when the current organizational name, Catholic Volunteer Network, was adopted. In 1998, Catholic Volunteer Network was awarded a federal grant to administer AmeriCorps Education Awards for volunteers in its member programs. By 2000, membership in Catholic Volunteer Network was comprised of 200 lay volunteer programs, of which about 80% were Catholic and the remainder from various other Christian traditions.
By 2003, Catholic Volunteer Network recorded more than 10,000 volunteers in its annual membership survey. That same year, Catholic Volunteer Network celebrated its fortieth anniversary and moved its national office to Takoma Park, Maryland, where it remains at present.
In November 2013, Catholic Volunteer Network commemorated its fiftieth anniversary at the Annual Conference held in Washington, D.C. A special component of the conference was a day long symposium on the impact of faith-based service on CVN alumni, to coincide with the release of a research study conducted by CARA entitled "Volunteer Introspective." Partners, supporters, program staff, and longtime friends gathered in Washington, D.C. for this celebration. Also at this conference, CVN's annual survey report recorded over 20,000 volunteers serving annually.
Every year Catholic Volunteer Network bestows two awards to honor individuals and communities that have made great contributions through volunteer service.
The Father George 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 the late Father George Mader, of the Archdiocese of Newark who, together with his sister, Patricia Mader Stalker, founded what is today known as Catholic Volunteer Network.
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.
For more information about the work of IRTF, please visit their website.
The Bishop Francis Award Award
Catholic Volunteer Network bestows the Bishop Joseph A. Francis Award on former volunteers that have demonstrated exemplary service to their local communities. Most Reverend Joseph A. Francis, SVD served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark. He was the Episcopal Advisor for Catholic Volunteer Network from 1976 until his death in 1997. His wisdom and guidance helped the organization grow from a diocesan project to a national membership organization and resource center for faith-based volunteer programs. As Bishop Francis gave so much of himself to the Church, society, and Catholic Volunteer Network, the individuals and organizations that are honored in his name will likewise have made great strides in bettering the world around them.