They Empathize, They Act, They Inspire Change

For immediate Release
Contact: Beth Drost or 215-884-6499

SHCJ Honors Former NY Bar Association President and Fordham University Dean, John D. Feerick and Community FoodBank of New Jersey Founder Kathleen DiChiara

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Confronting suffering in others can be difficult and uncomfortable, but just as difficult is acting to end the suffering. The Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ), an international community of Roman Catholic Sisters founded on the principle of “Actions Not Words,” annually selects two individuals who embody the essence of the founding principle to receive the Faith in Action and Holy Child Spirit Awards. Kathleen DiChiara and John D. Feerick will be honored in New York at the March 29, 2012 Fourth Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner.Their tremendous capacity to care for others and transform their concern into effective, innovative programs has helped to improve conditions for those who are hungry, economically distressed, and disenfranchised in New York and New Jersey.

Embracing the Spirit of SHCJ
Kathleen DiChiara, the 2012 Holy Child Faith in Action Award recipient, has dedicated her life to feeding the hungry. As President and CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, her organization last year distributed 39 million pounds of food, providing food to almost a million people across the Garden State. For four decades, she has committed herself to carrying out the directive of Cornelia Connelly, the Society’s Foundress, to “meet the wants of the age.”

In 1975, after hearing the pastor of her church talk about the hidden hunger in her hometown of Summit, NJ, Mrs. DiChiara began an emergency food program out of the back of her car. Requiring a more permanent solution, she collaborated with the Archdiocese of Newark to establish a network of emergency food pantries. By 1982, she had incorporated her food program as a nonprofit. Her compassionate spirit, tenacity, and faith were instrumental in the success of her efforts. Forbes magazine selected the FoodBank as one of the top 200 charities in America because of its high ranking in statistical measures of effectiveness. It raises a dollar for every penny spent on fund raising and spends only 4% on administrative overhead. The organization employs a staff of 144 and includes more than 25,000 volunteers.

To family, friends, and colleagues, she is known as a person of deep faith, strong opinions, and unwavering commitment. She is the ultimate visionary and continues to develop innovative strategies to meet the wants of the age. For example, transforming one of the program’s kitchens into the Food Service Training Academy, has allowed FoodBank to prepare unemployed individuals for employment in the food services industry.

Mrs. DiChiara has received numerous awards, including those from three Presidents, the Pope, and three New Jersey governors. Despite her full schedule, she is active in her community and served in the Mother’s Auxiliary when her two children attended the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child.

Mrs. DiChiara will receive the Faith in Action Award, which honors individuals who demonstrate the characteristics of the Society’s Foundress, Cornelia Connelly, including a day-by-day an awareness of the presence of God and a spirit of joy, active love, generosity, and courage. Mrs. DiChiara’s deep commitment to improving the lives of others permeates all she does.

Embracing the Spirit and the Law
John D. Feerick is a professor at Fordham Law School, and its Dean from 1982 to 2002. A lawyer for more than 50 years, he has been a member or chair of many organizations, including a committee that shaped the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution. His contributions to committees and organizations, which have addressed issues such as government integrity, family homelessness, public education, judicial elections, cameras in the courts, and improvements in the legal system to enhance public confidence, have benefited both New York City and State.

He served as chair of the American Arbitration Association and the Fund for Modern Courts, and as President of the Citizens Union Foundation and the New York Bar Association. He is the recipient of the highest awards of the American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, New York City Bar Association, New York County Lawyers’ Association, The American Irish Historical Society, and Fordham University. Throughout his career, he has received recognition and awards from numerous professional, religious and civic groups.

The Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham Law School, which Professor Feerick directs, works with students, lawyers and community volunteers to connect low-income New Yorkers to the legal resources they need and cannot afford. The Center trains students and others to engage in social change efforts and seeks to frame concrete achievable solutions to discrete problems of urban poverty.

Professor Feerick’s commitment to public service is unsurpassed and his actions underscore his deep commitment to “meeting the wants of the age,” just as Cornelia Connelly, the Society’s Foundress directed. ProfessorFeerick has long aided the Sisters in an advisory capacity and for many years served on the Board of Trustees of School of the Holy Child in Rye, New York, which his two daughters attended.

Professor Feerick will be honored with the Holy Child Spirit Award, which honors individuals who demonstrate the characteristics of service represented in the Holy Child tradition, including justice, compassion, and social action.

About the Awards Dinner
The Fourth Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner will be held at 6:00 p.m. on March 29, 2012, at Bridgewaters in New York City’s South Street Seaport. Mrs. DiChiara and Professor Feerick will be recognized for their outstanding service and the dinner will be an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments. For more information, go to or call 610.626.1400.

About the Society of the Holy Child Jesus
The Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) is an international community of Roman Catholic Sisters founded by Cornelia Connelly in 1846. In 1862, 150 years ago, the first SHCJ arrived in the United States in the Port of New York. The Society includes three provinces, with the American Province providing outreach to more than 8,500 individuals through education, as well as sponsored and collaborative ministries at various social service programs throughout the United States, Chile, and the Dominican Republic. For more information, visit