By Sean Ryan - 22 October, 2016
It has been confirmed this week that Fr Shay Cullen SSC will make it to Killarney next month to personally accept the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty Humanitarian Award.
Fr Shay Cullen is a Dublin-born member of the Missionary Society of St Columban and is based in the Philippines. He was confirmed as the 2016 recipient of the award last July, ahead of ten other nominees.
Fr Cullen, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on three separate occasions, was ordained in 1969 and has served in a number of parishes in the Philippines.
In 1974 he co-founded the Philippines-based Preda Foundation, which now has more than 60 professional staff. The group rescues sexually abused children from prisons, brothels and traffickers, and also provides them with care. The Preda Foundation and Fr Shay Cullen had previously been awarded the prestigious Human Rights Award from the City of Weimar, Germany.
Speaking this week, the Chairperson of the Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial Committee, Jerry O’Grady, said “Fr Shay has given his life to protecting the human rights of oppressed and exploited children, and has fearlessly challenged those who were not prepared to shoulder their responsibilities, including vested interests, local and national government in the Philippines, and the US Government.”
He added that “This is an opportunity for young and old to greet and welcome one of Ireland’s great living heroes and to be inspired by his message, and he is looking forward to visiting our town. We are very excited to have him over to Killarney as are colleagues of his from the Columban Order who reside in the town.”
Named in memory of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, who spent much of his youth in Killarney, the award bids to raise awareness of his remarkable deeds during the Second World War, when he and his colleagues in the Rome Escape Line saved over 6,500 people in Nazi-occupied Rome. The prize in conferred upon those who support the same humanitarian ideals and principles as did the Monsignor. The award will be presented to Fr Cullen on Saturday 5 November at 8 pm in the Killarney Avenue Hotel.