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Zavada Speaker Series: Christian Responsibility in the 21st Century

Zavada Speaker Series: Christian Responsibility in the 21st Century


Morristown, N.J. (September 17, 2019) – September 2019 marks exactly 120 years from the founding of the College of Saint Elizabeth. To kick off a nine-month celebration of those 12 decades, the Mary R. Zavada, '57, Speaker Series: Christian Responsibility in the 21st Century was launched on September 12, 2019.

"During her life, Mary was deeply interested in immigration, particularly undocumented students, social support networks and political science," said Dr. Helen J. Streubert president of the College of Saint Elizabeth. "Chief among Mary's beliefs was that individuals must take responsibility for each other in order to make a difference in the world."

Made possible by the generous support of her brother, John, the inaugural presentation featured the Reverend Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and the Reverend A. Craig Dunn, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Madison. The event was attended by some 200 students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the local community.

Holtschneider has spent his life providing education, healthcare and housing for the poor, having been president of DePaul University, the nation's largest Catholic university, as well as chairman of the board and chief operations officer of Ascension Health, the world's largest Catholic health system. He is now supporting the largest street homelessness initiative in the world.

Speaking specifically to the students in the audience, Holtschneider said, "I'm not here to ask you to follow my path. You have your own path that's already under way and has yet to happen. It's your choices that make you who you are. You have stories of your own already, that are already shaping how you see the world and how you want to make a difference."

Growing up in the fourth ward of Montclair, NJ, Dunn was often told that people from the neighborhood did not go to college. He made up his mind that he was going to make it out and attended Villanova University on a football scholarship, later transferring to The Ohio State University where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. He also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Sacred Theology from Drew Theological School and is in the process of earning his Doctor of Divinity there now.

Referencing a book by anthropologist Margaret Mead that he read in college, Dunn said one quote stood out in his mind and has guided him throughout his life.

"'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has,'" Dunn said. "That means that you can transform your circle of influence, you can transform your community, you can transform your neighborhood and you can transform your life."

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