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Catholic Relief Services’ Sean Callahan to Speak at Commencement

Posted on 5/4/2022 6:02:33 AM

Cabrini’s Class of 2022 will hear from a leader in global faith-based service when Catholic Relief Services (CRS) President and CEO Sean Callahan speaks as part of the University’s 62nd Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 22.

Callahan will speak at each of the day’s three ceremonies: School of Business and Professional Studies at 9am, School of Education at 11:30am, and School of Arts and Sciences at 2pm.

“Cabrini has enjoyed an impactful partnership with Catholic Relief Services for many years, and it is an honor to have Sean Callahan on campus to inspire the Class of 2022 as they embark on the next chapter of their lives,” said Cabrini President Donald B. Taylor, PhD. “Cabrini and CRS have rich histories of service that practice the values of Catholic Social Teaching to inspire change and action among peoples of all faiths across the globe.”

Founded during World War II in an effort to care for displaced refugees, CRS serves the poor and vulnerable through peacebuilding and aid mobilization efforts in areas affected by war, disease, and poverty. CRS is concerned with the “formation of the heart” in each of the communities it serves.

“I see the Education of the Heart and ‘Live With Purpose‘ at Cabrini as being very similar,” Callahan said of the CRS mission.

The cultivation of trustworthy relationships is key to the CRS mission as well as Cabrini’s role as a driver for impactful service in local communities, Callahan said.

“You can’t get change if you don’t build trust and link with people so I think that’s crucially important,” he said.

Callahan has spent much of his 34 years at CRS building relationships and catalyzing the organization’s relief efforts overseas, particularly in South Asia where he worked closely with Mother Teresa. He has held leadership positions abroad and at CRS’s Baltimore headquarters since 1998, where he has served as president and CEO since 2016. Callahan also oversaw CRS’s support of the Global Child Thrive Act, passed as a law in early 2021 to integrate early childhood development tactics and strategies into foreign policy enacted by U.S. government agencies.

“That [the Global Child Thrive Act] is an indicator that although we may be relatively small…you can have an influence well outside your size,” he said.

Though CRS operates through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching, it, like Cabrini, sets no limits on the people its work impacts.

“I think we need to make sure that we celebrate that universality as opposed to becoming parochial with [our teachings],” Callahan said. “Cabrini…does have that essence and core of its Catholic mission, but it draws people in who accept those principles and see where it links to their own faith or their own values.”

Though the road ahead for graduates will be non-linear in its demands for interdisciplinary solutions to complex challenges, Callahan said he feels graduates are up to the task.

“The one thing I would recommend for students is to not be afraid of the challenge and to reach out if they can make a change,” he said. “Mother Cabrini was someone who got rejected from religious orders because of her health, and told she couldn’t travel. And, look what she did.”

Photo Credit: Ismail Ferdous for Catholic Relief Services