The German Shalom Award 2017 is given to Irish Columban Missionary

16 February, 2017

The 2017 AK Shalom Award by the working group Shalom – For Justice and Peace at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Germany has been awarded to Fr. Shay Cullen and the Preda Foundation in the Philippines. The prize, which was initiated by a group of theology students at the university, has been awarded annually since 1982 for extraordinary commitment in the field of peace and human rights.

Fr. Shay Cullen is an Irish Columban Missionary who has pioneered justice and peace programmes in the Philippines since he arrived there in 1969. He is the recipient of many recognition awards for his work, including the Hugh O’Flaherty International Humanitarian Award in Killarney last November.

The AK Shalom Prize is awarded for the work of 54 staff - social workers, therapists, administrators and public educators – in Preda engaged in defending human rights and promoting justice for the marginalised. Preda is active in the rescue and caring of abused children from jails, abusers and brothels and giving victims of abuse a safe home with protection, education, values formation, affirmation, empowerment and healing therapy and restoring their self-esteem.

It takes legal action against child abusers and campaigns for the rights of the child through governments and the media. Fr. Shay writes a weekly article that is syndicated to the media in several countries. In recent months he has been highlighting the killing of over 7,000 drug users and pushers by police and vigilante groups in the Philippines.

Preda believes that many acts of violence, conflict, and war begins with individuals who have been victimised as children. They may have been victims of violence in words, punishment, by rejection, or physical or sexual abuse. Some of these young people carry the urge and tendency to violence and anger-release buried within their psyche. Later in life a few may vent their buried anger or misunderstandings or false perceptions of reality on society, family or community. Some can create a cycle of violence designed to overpower others and they express feelings of revenge and vengeance. This is the effect of childhood violence and neglect.

The Preda healing process is through dialogue, positive relationships, community education through participation. Preda strives to create a community that listens and learns from victims and gives support and encouragement and healing to victims of violence and abuse.

The prize will be presented to Fr. Shay on 4 May in the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Germany. Member of the organising committee, Ulrike Schurr-Schöpfel, says that “the award is one of the highest donated human rights awards in Germany and includes a substantial donation to the work of the recipient. It is also important that the people here in Eichstätt and Germany can learn about the situation in other countries.

We choose award recipients who very often risk their lives for their work. Last year, Bertha Caceres, the recipient in 2012 was killed because she campaigned for the indigenous people in her country, Honduras. We have known about Fr. Shay Cullen’s work for some years already, and think it is an excellent project.”