Mgsr O' Flaherty International Humanitarian Award Committee Invites nominationsSaturday, July 14th, 2012
Plans are already underway for the 5th annual Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty memorial weekend, which will take place from November 9 to 11, in Killarney, County Kerry.
The weekend is organised each year to raise awareness of the humanitarian deeds of the Monsignor and his colleagues in the Room Escape Line which directly saved over 6,500 prisoners of war, Jews and Roman citizens from arrest or re-capture and almost certain death, during the Nazi occupation of Rome.
Testimony to how the memorial weekend is going was in evidence this week with the news that, among the confirmed dignitaries who will attend the event are, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and the recently appointed Papal Nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Charles John Browne.
In a statement released this week, the organising committee stated, “The work of Monsignor O'Flaherty follows a long tradition of humanitarian service by Irish people, when he provided both refuge and assistance to the oppressed in Rome without any regard for race, colour, creed or political beliefs applying his own simple but profound belief that 'God had no country'. In 2008, in recognition of Monsignor O'Flaherty's immense humanitarian deeds the people of Killarney posthumously presented the Killarney Humanitarian Award to Monsignor O'Flaherty who was better known as the 'The Pimpernel of the Vatican'.”
The award is now awarded annually at the memorial weekend in November and has since been re-named as the Hugh O'Flaherty International Humanitarian Award. In 2009 the award was presented jointly to the Dharfur based Goal Aid workers Sharon Commons and Hilda Kawuki and in 2010 it was awarded to the Philippines based Columban Missionary priest Fr Michael Sinnott. The 2011 award was presented to Trócaire’s regional director for Latin America Sally O'Neill.
Following consultation over the past few months the organising committee has decided to widen the scope of its search for future recipients. Speaking this week memorial committee secretary Jerry O'Grady said, “Up to now our focus has been on individuals involved in humanitarian work overseas. In discussion with some of the NGO's, we realise that in most all cases, successful humanitarian projects rely on effective teamwork both at home and overseas. We want to acknowledge this reality by now accepting nominations of teams or entire organisations, as well as continuing to accept nominations from individuals.”
“We feel that at this particularly difficult time that it is also appropriate to include those who are involved in enormous humanitarian work here in Ireland and not just overseas. There are numerous domestically based voluntary aid organisations doing tremendous work for the oppressed and needy in Ireland and in many cases lives are been saved without much public awareness.”
Nominations are now been sought from the general public, humanitarian NGO's working at home or abroad and humanitarian or related societies in third level educational institutions where nominations can be for an individual, team or organisation who is providing humanitarian services for those in need at home or overseas.
The closing date for nominations is August 31 and the award will be presented on Saturday November 10 at the memorial weekend in Killarney.
by Sean Ryan