Msgr. Mottet will receive national award

Msgr. Marvin Mottet

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Msgr. Marvin Mottet will be the 2012 recipient of the Roundtable Servant of Justice Award for his exemplary contributions to the achievement of the Catholic vision of social justice for more than 50 years.

The Servant of Justice Award is given by the Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors to a member or former member whose work, through the tradition of Catholic social teaching, has led to significant progress towards greater social justice and dignity for all members of society.

Msgr. Mottet was ordained to the priesthood in 1956 and a year later helped form the Catholic Interracial Council to address widespread racial discrimination and segregation in Davenport. The council’s efforts led to creation of the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award, which to date has honored 40 recipients, including Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Msgr. Mottet.

After earning his Master of Social Work degree and directing Catholic Charities of Davenport, Msgr. Mottet developed the “Two Feet of Social Action” approach. Charity is one foot of the model, concerned with helping individuals meet present needs, while justice is the other foot. Catholic Charities, at the urging of United Way, merged with Family and Children’s Services to form Family Resources, a multi-million-dollar agency that works in several counties in two states. The “Two Feet” approach continues to be a model used by social action directors today.


Msgr. Mottet also served as one of the first diocesan social action directors in the country. Then, in 1978, he was appointed executive director of the national Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a post he held until 1985. Afterward, he returned to his home diocese of Davenport and was a founding leader of Quad Cities Interfaith congregation‐based organization to address the causes of poverty locally.

At age 81, Msgr. Mottet continues to put into practice the Gospel’s preferential option for the poor as an advocate and an example. He will receive the Roundtable Servant of Justice Award during the Roundtable’s Award banquet Feb. 11, 2012, at the beginning of the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, D.C.

For the first 25 years of its existence, the Roundtable was a program of the National Pastoral Life Center in New York City before transitioning to an independent organization.

“The two founders were Harry Fagan and Msgr. Phil Murnion. They were good friends of mine,” Msgr. Mottet said. “In the social action world, they are two giants.”

The priest said he feels honored to be named recipient of the Roundtable award. “I admire the group very much.”

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