Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Repost: Msgr. Mottet, Catholic Worker Cofounder, Receives Honor February 11, 2012

     Three and a half full pages were dedicated to Msgr. Mottet in the February 11, 2012 issue of Davenport's The Catholic Messenger -  to someone still alive!  The following are pictures and excerpts from this paper and from his life.

     Rewritten below from the front-page Barb Arland-Frye article on Msgr. Mottet.
     When Fr. Marvin Mottet opened the Social Action Department of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa in 1969, the late Bishop Gerald O'Keefe mistakenly referred to it as Social Services.  "No, Bishop," the priest politely corrected his superior, "it's social action; justice comes first."  While charity is necessary, solving the problems that create poverty is crucial, the priest explained.
     It's a message Msgr. Mottet - who prefers to be called "Fr. Mottet" - has practiced and preached for the past 56 years of his priesthood.  This weekend he'll receive an award for his leadership role in advancing social justice and dignity for all members of society through the tradition of Catholic social teaching.  The Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors will present its Servant of Justice Award to Msgr. Mottet on Feb. 11 in Washington, D.C.
     "At age 81, Mottet continues to put into practice the Gospel's preferential option for the poor as an advocate and an example,"  the Roundtable Association said in a news release ...
     Ordained to the priesthood in 1956, he helped form the Catholic Interracial Council to address racial discrimination and segregation in Davenport a year later ...
     Msgr. Mottet became the Davenport Diocese's social action director after surviving cancer while still in his 30's.  That experience impacted his prayer life and shaped his approach to social action.
     "I would  take one day a month at the Carmelite Monastery for prayer and reflection.  I'd go in with questions and come out with answers about the direction our social action team should go."
     "Marv created and used [a] model to transform Catholic social ministry to address the causes of poverty and create institutional change," says Dan Ebener, who served more than 20 years as the Davenport Diocese's social action director.
     In 1978, he became executive director of the national Campaign for Human Development and lived among the poor in a Catholic Worker House.  "Social justice is not just a theory; I felt it was necessary to live in solidarity with the poor," explained Msgr. Mottet, who helped open two Catholic Worker houses in Washington, D.C., and two in Davenport.

     Mgr. Mottet helped launch the Quad Cities Interfaith Housing, a congregation-based organization to address the causes of poverty locally.  Numerous organizations that address poverty and injustice have taken root at his instigation and his ability to persuade others to join him.  "We weren't intending to build an empire.  It was research, plan, develop and spin-off." ..."So often when I go past the chapel, he's in there praying; obviously the activity of his social action ministry is supportive by a very deep prayer life," observes Bishop Amos.
     Msgr. Mottet still serves as a president of Project Renewal, a program he helped start 38 years ago in one of Davenport's poorest neighborhoods, attends social action department meetings and leads healing minstry efforts.  He's also the Diocese's exorcist [a Vatican-trained one], whose services are in demand well beyond the Diocese. [Monica's side note: He and his team once performed an exorcism over an abortion clinic and the director quit within a couple of weeks. Also, his admitted most ugly and relentless demon has been the demon of pornography.]

     Most of Msgr. Mottet's [Iowa] efforts now  focus on helping a former student he taught at Assumption High School in Davenport to bring to fruition projects with potential to create a significant number of new jobs and to share the wealth from the sale of the products.
     "We want to employ the people who are living in despair and go to bed every night praying for a better tomorrow.  We want to provide that better tomorrow.  And through the grace of God and the Holy Spirit, we will," said Jim Orr, the former student who calls this effort the Mottet Initiative.  "We're looking for people of like spirit and mind who have the same passion to bring jobs to those in need," Orr added.
     Caption of several combined pictures of Msgr. Mottet says: "Msgr. Mottet ... Fr. Marv.  Thank you for your lifelong pursuit of justice for all.  you continue to inspire us."
     A last personal note is that Msgr. Mottet is a charismatic priest known for the gift of healing, making nearly nonstop house visits in addition to numerous healing masses (his outstretched hand is shown during one of these masses).  Two dramatic healings in my own family happened during healing masses.


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