Church News and Events

Catholic Organization Honors Church Leader with Humanitarian Award

  By Marjorie Cortez and Marianne Holman, Church News contributors

  • 9 November 2012

Spencer Eccles, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (left to right), at a program during which Catholic Community Services honored President Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriet.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, were presented the Humanitarians of the Year Award from Catholic Community Services during a program at Little America in Salt Lake City on November 7. President Uchtdorf accepted the recognition on behalf of the Church, the driving force behind the couple’s humanitarian works, he said.

“As we help those in distress, our own lives are blessed,” he said.

President and Sister Uchtdorf share more than empathy with people in need, including refugees.

They too were displaced from their homes and became refugees and, eventually, immigrants to the United States. He moved from his birthplace in Czechoslovakia to Germany when he was 4 years old. She lost her father, who was a German soldier during World War II, when she was just 11.

The couple has profound gratitude for the people “who helped us through this difficult season,” said President Uchtdorf.

He commented about the Uchtdorfs being “two Germans, former Lutherans, now committed Mormons, being honored by Catholics in the United States of America.”

“As a Church we are proud to partner with [Catholic Community Services] to lift, support, and even make miracles happen in the lives of the poor and the needy,” President Uchtdorf said. “All this in the true Christian spirit of ‘As ye have done it unto one of the least of these … ye have done it unto me.’ ”

He said that the partnership is a bright sign of hope and a great reason for optimism in a sometimes divided world.

“Many of our fellowmen today are facing extremely challenging circumstances,” he said. “And yet they go on. We stand in awe of those who go on. We honor them. And along with them, we honor those who reach out to them, offering hope. … All of our lives are intertwined. We are all connected. As we help those in distress, our own lives are blessed.”

Also honored as Humanitarians of the Year were Spencer F. and Cleone Eccles, for their support of education, health care, athletics, and social causes. 

Florence “Flo” Holtshouser was given CCS’s Unsung Hero Award in recognition of her more than 50 years of service to CCS, and Raul Yumul, who has been instrumental in the development of refugee resettlement, was honored as Employee of the Year. Recipients of CCS’s Humanitarian awards were Robert and Wendy Steiner, Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, and the Catholic Woman’s League, which in 1945 assisted in establishing Catholic Charities, now CCS. Mark Franken, formerly with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, was recognized as Community Partner for more than 30 years of service.