USD to Receive National Awards at Catholic Bishops’ Meeting

A University of San Diego law student and the university’s graduate ministry program will be honored at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 14 and 15.

Rosibel “Rosy” Mancillas Lopez is the recipient of the 2011 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award for her work and advocacy for justice and immigration reform. The award is sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty program of the conference of bishops.  It is given to a young Catholic who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions and is named after the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, former archbishop of Chicago and a leading voice on behalf of poor and low-income people who, understood the need to build bridges across ethnic, economic, class and age barriers.

Mancillas Lopez, 24, will be honored at a reception Nov. 14, during the bishops’ Fall General Assembly in Baltimore where she will receive a check for $1,000. She became involved in immigrant advocacy through a Catholic parish’s  involvement with the San Diego Organizing Project, a CCHD-funded group, to empower immigrants to know their rights. She also leads delegations across the Mexican border, volunteers to provide legal advice to immigrants, and advocates to improve laws that affect immigrants. Her work with immigrant families and her own family’s experiences inspired her to pursue a law degree.

“Rosy draws on her faith and her family’s experience as Mexican immigrants to stand up for the dignity, rights and lives of people who have no one else to speak for them,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, chairman of the conference of bishops CCHD subcommittee. “Both our country and the Church need more young people who are willing to take a stand for the vulnerable and the voiceless.”

“My faith empowers me in all I do,” said Mancillas Lopez. “It inspires me to work for love, compassion and justice. It’s humbling to have my work singled out by the bishops for this award. I thank them for this honor and for the care and concern they’ve shown immigrants.” In addition to studying law at USD, she is an executive assistant in the office of University Ministry.

As an undergraduate at USD, she arose at 3:30 each morning to deliver newspapers before school, graduating with honors in 2009 with majors in political science and economics. Her parents will be traveling with her to the East Coast to receive the award in what will be their first trip traveling anywhere in the United States. “I think this will be such a significant and meaningful experience for my family,” Mancillas Lopez said.

On Nov. 15, USD’s Graduate and Law Student Ministry program will receive the 2011 Exemplary Program Award from the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. San Diego Bishop Robert H. Brom will accept the award for the program that was launched three years ago to help provide a sense of community for graduate students in their 20s and 30s. The program includes Theology on Tap, a monthly get-together bringing students together to discuss issues in a relaxed atmosphere; pastoral and spiritual counseling, and service opportunities ranging from one-day trips to Tijuana to an immersion trip to El Salvador.

“This is affirmation for being able to help our graduate and law students connect with a greater purpose,” said Maria Gaughan, associate minister in University Ministry who has helped lead the program since its inception. “It’s a wonderful honor for the whole staff.”

Michael Lovette-Colyer, director of University Ministry, said the program “provides regular opportunities for graduate and law students to reflect on the experiences of their studies and to reconsider how what they are learning and experiencing is in alignment with their faith and values and who they  are called to become.”

In particular, many students appreciate the opportunity for the type of service trips that helped shape their undergraduate experience, he said. The Tijuana day trips are a “crucial reminder of the value of service and the connection with the poor and marginalized, a connection that is highly valued by many of our students but which can stretched or forgotten in the midst of graduate and law school.”

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.