Three Religious Leaders to Receive National Recognition of Commitment to Social Justice

Alexandria, Virginia (November 21, 2014) – Three religious leaders with a history of working on the front lines for justice and opportunity for all will receive national awards in recognition of their lifelong commitment and service from Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) next January 9 in Washington, D.C.

Msgr. Ray East, Sister Kateri Mitchell, and Sister Norma Pimentel, who have demonstrated a history of consistent leadership in advancing racial and social justice, will each receive a “Keep the Dream Alive” award from CCUSA. The annual awards are distributed to honorees who have lived out a passionate commitment to making the dream of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a reality, and creating a society in which every individual is not “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” The three recipients are:

  • Monsignor Ray East, director of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of Black Catholics and Vicar for Evangelization. Nationally-known as an inspirational speaker and a vibrant presence deeply engaged in many ministries, he has served in a number of leadership in the black Catholic community, was ordained to the priesthood in 1981, and is currently the pastor of St. Therese of Avila parish in southwest Washington.
  • Sister Kateri Mitchell, the first Native American woman to hold the position of Executive Director of the Tekakwitha Conference, belongs to the Turtle Clan of the Mohawk Nation, which is one of the six nations in the Iroquois Confederacy, and is a Sister of St. Ann. She has been in full-time ministry work for the past 31 years, leading the Tekakwitha Conference, a religious non-profit organization for evangelization among indigenous Catholics, since 1998, and was appointed in 1998 to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue by Pope Benedict XVI.
  • Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville, Tex. A long-time social services leader in the Rio Grande area, Sister Norma led community efforts to respond to the needs of families and children who were seeking refuge in the United States from their violence-torn homelands, receiving recognized by national and international media outlets and aid groups. She is a sister with the Missionaries of Jesus.

The honorees will receive their awards at the 2015 “Keep the Dream Alive” Mass, which will be held Friday, January 9, 2015, in Washington, D.C. Previous recipients of the award include USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon; Anthony Williams, former mayor of Washington, D.C., and Rev. William Lies, C.S.C., Vice President for Mission Engagement and Church Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.


Patricia Cole, VP Communications


A member of Caritas Internationalis, Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is the national office for Catholic Charities agencies nationwide. Catholic Charities USA’s members provide help and create hope to more than 12 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. To learn more about CCUSA, please visit our website at