- Catholic Common Ground Initiative - https://catholiccommonground.org -

2013 Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Award

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Award Citation

June 7th, 2013

Zeni V. Fox, Ph.D.

In his 1985 Pastoral letter on Ministry, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin shared these thoughts with his readers: “Unfortunately, the emphases in our culture on competition and status influence our thinking, attitudes, and mode of operating in regard to ministry. We need to be mindful of what Jesus said: ‘You know how it is among the Gentiles, those who seem to exercise authority lord it over them; their great ones make their importance felt. It cannot be like that with you. Anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest; whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all.’

In light of this, we must listen to one another very carefully in order to discover the same Spirit of the one Lord at work in all of us. This has been a continuous task of the Church from the time of Jesus until our own day, in which we seek to effect and respond to a renewal of ministerial life.”

Dr. Zeni Fox has been the embodiment of this message in her years of teaching and ministry. She is described by colleagues in the School of Theology at Seton Hall University as one with a generous heart and a gentle nature – one who is able to inspire her students with her theological expertise as well as her collaborative style.

She is particularly appreciated by ministers in the church for her longstanding and ardent commitment to the development of lay ministry, particularly lay ecclesial ministry.

Professor Fox served with distinction as an advisor for over 15 years for the USCCB  Committee on the Laity and the Subcommittee on Lay Ministry that produced the important document on Lay Ecclesial Ministry,  Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord. This work culminated in the publication of her latest book, Called and Chosen: Toward Spirituality for Lay Leaders.

She has participated in many consultations with diverse Church representatives, including canonists, diocesan leaders, leaders of lay organizations and theologians, from this country and beyond. She has recently been involved with leaders of Catholic healthcare and Catholic education throughout this country as well as Australia.

Like Cardinal Bernardin, she has a gentle and inviting way of offering her insights and observations – which are always grounded in her experience as theologian, teacher of seminarians and prospective lay ecclesial ministers, and parish minister. 

With deep appreciation for her extraordinary contribution to building Common Ground among her colleagues, students, fellow parishioners and friends, the Catholic Common Ground Inititaive is proud to present Professor Zeni Fox with the Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Award for 2013.

June 7, 2013