4th Annual Dei Gratia Award Winners Announced

July 05, 2018

The Daughters of Charity and Sisters of Loretto will be honored as the recipients of the Dei Gratia Award during the 12th Annual Foundation of Faith Dinner on Thursday, September 20, 2018 for their significant work and profound impact in the areas of healthcare and education. The Dei Gratia Award, Latin for “By the Grace of God”, recognizes an individual, couple, or organization for their servant leadership, outstanding contribution to the Diocese of El Paso and our Catholic community, and their dedication to being good stewards of God’s grace. 

It was determined that this year there would be two honorees because both the Daughters of Charity and the Sisters of Loretto have demonstrated exemplary leadership, devotion, and selfless commitment to this community for over a century. If you have a connection to Hotel Dieu, Centro San Vicente Health Center, Loretto Academy, or you were educated by the Sisters of Loretto, this event will provide you with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with our religious sisters and honor their profound contributions.  

The Daughters of Charity arrived in El Paso, a frontier town of only a few thousand residents, on February 3, 1892. Among their many contributions to healthcare in this community, they are probably best known for founding Hotel Dieu, the first hospital in El Paso. The sisters established a school of nursing connected with Hotel Dieu in 1898, and for the next seventy-seven years the majority of the hospital's nurses were educated in this school. After selling the hospital on December 5, 1987, the sisters established San Vicente Family Health Center/Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, opened by the order in 1988. They also distribute food and clothing to the poor, provide ministry at the Opportunity Center, work across the border serving the very poor, and practice the same philosophy that brought them to the “Sun City” 126 years ago and reflected in their motto: "The Charity of Christ Urges Us."

The Sisters of Loretto arrived in San Elizario in 1879 and opened St. Joseph's Academy, the first “Lorettine” school in Texas. In September, 1892 the Sisters of Loretto opened St. Joseph Academy in El Paso in the building formerly occupied by a school operated by the Sisters of Mercy. In October of the same year Sacred Heart School opened on South Oregon Street. In 1921, against the advice of Bishop Anthony Joseph Schuler, S.J., the first bishop of El Paso, Mother Praxades bought 19 ½ acres of desert land. Bishop Schuler told her, “If you succeed in building here, I’ll say you are the special child of our Divine Lord.” In 1923, Henry Trost designed Loretto Academy which was constructed on a seven-acre campus in the Austin Terrace area of the city. St. Joseph Academy closed when the new school opened. Subsequent parochial schools were opened and operated in El Paso by the Sisters of Loretto, including St. Mary's or Immaculate Conception (1903–66), St. Ignatius (1905–57), Guardian Angel (1912–73), Holy Family (1922–25), St. Joseph (1923–77), St. Patrick (1923–79), and Our Lady of Assumption (1960–64).

The Catholic Foundation’s annual dinner is a stewardship event that attracts attendees from all over the community. Speakers over the years have included Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculée Ilibagiza, Daniel Cardinal Dinardo, actor Eduardo Verástegui, and the “cooking priest”, Fr. Leo Patalinghug. This year's keynote speaker is Colleen Carroll Campbell, an author, print & broadcast journalist, and former presidential speechwriter. 

The annual Foundation of Faith Dinner raises over $100,000 through sponsorships, table and ticket sales, an exciting live auction, and donations. Proceeds benefit the Foundation whose only purpose is to serve the Catholic Church in the Diocese of El Paso. 100% of the proceeds from all needs packages benefit the designated school, need, parish, charity, or fund. Different needs are highlighted each year at the Foundation of Faith Dinner.

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