Award for Irish Columban Fr Shay Cullen

14th November 2017 - by Ellen Teague

On 17th November 2017 in Kerkrade, the Netherlands, Irish Columban missionary, Fr Shay Cullen will be  the recipient of the 2017 Martin Buber Plaque Award in recognition of his internationally acclaimed work on human rights undertaken through the PREDA Foundation, which he established in the Philippines in 1974.

 

Professor Martin Buber was a Jewish philosopher who advocated peace dialogue, mutual recognition of human rights and dignity, and worked for a united Jewish and Arab Palestine. Buber died in 1965, and the prestigious award in his memory was initiated in 2002 with German Foreign Minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher as the inaugural recipient. Since then, recipients have included Queen Silvia of Sweden, President Klaus Johannis of Romania, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Prince Irene of the Netherlands, and Karl-heinz Böhm, founder of the Austrian Menschen für Menschen Foundation for Ethiopia.
Being chosen for this internationally focused award indicates the reputation and acclaim that Fr Shay Cullen’s human rights work is attracting internationally. 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 is engaged in defending human rights and promoting justice for the marginalised, as well as running a Fair Trade project that is helping hundreds of small farmers. The proceeds of the sale of  PREDA  dried mango go  to eliminate exploitation and help support the  families of the small scale mango-growing farmers.
Fr Shay is a well known international speaker and human rights advocate  focusing on the abused and exploited women and children. He is a  media commentator, and writer. In 2006, he published a book – Passion and Power – with an introduction by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and an endorsement by the Hollywood actor and human rights supporter, Martin Sheen.
Fr Shay has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize by MPs in Germany and in Canada, and has received numerous recognition awards in several countries. These include the Human Rights of the City of Weimar Award in Germany in 2000, the Human Rights Award of the City of Ferrara in Italy in 2001, the Prix Caritas in Switzerland in 2003, and the International Solidarity Prize by Matres Mundi in Spain in 2008. This year he received the A.K. Shalom Award from the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Germany.
At home in Ireland, Fr Shay received the Hugh O’Flaherty International Humanitarian Award in 2016, an International Person of the Year Award in 2008, and the Irish Music Awards’ Humanitarian Award in 2009. Now 74, Fr Shay says: “I accept awards not for myself but on behalf of all those who are working and risking their lives to defend the rights and dignity of oppressed people and to win freedom for those who are victims of human rights violations”.
Matt Moran, author of recent book – The Legacy of Irish Missionaries Lives On – says: “Fr. Shay represents the very best in the life-changing work of our missionaries throughout the world. Preventing the abuse of women and children at the hands of human traffickers and their own governments is his life’s work. His mission for justice and peace is ecumenical in reach. It is based on taking a stand for human rights and protecting the dignity of every person, in particular exploited women, children and youth. It is wonderful to see his efforts being recognised internationally”.

Further information about the inspiring work of PREDA can be found at www.preda.org