A humanitarian aid worker who has served Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the Middle East, Africa and Central America has won the 2011 Swanstrom-Baerwald Award from Fordham University.
Matthew McGarry (GSAS ’04), who recently finished his duties as the country representative for CRS in Afghanistan, will receive the award in a ceremony on April 13 on the Rose Hill campus. His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrack, a member of the CRS board of directors, will be on hand to present the award.
As the country representative, McGarry was responsible for more than 300 staff members in four locations throughout Afghanistan. He helped implement programs that addressed watershed management and restoration, agricultural and rural livelihoods, community-based education and humanitarian relief.
“We at Fordham are honored to host the Swanstrom-Baerwald Award ceremony and this year’s recipient, our very own alumnus Matthew McGarry,” said Henry M. Schwalbenberg, Ph.D., director of the graduate program in International Political Economy and Development.
“Matt’s work with Catholic Relief Services in Zimbabwe, Darfur, Pakistan and Afghanistan will provide our students with an exciting example of excellence in the service of faith and the promotion of international justice,” Schwalbenberg said. “His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrack will highlight the importance of Fordham’s collaboration with CRS to the wider community.”
McGarry grew up in Western Massachusetts and graduated from Longmeadow High School. He attended the University of Notre Dame, where he received an undergraduate degree in international relations and Spanish.
He volunteered for two years in Nicaragua with Jesuit Volunteers International and then earned a graduate degree from the IPED program at Fordham.
McGarry began working for CRS as an intern in Zimbabwe. As an area coordinator in Darfur, he obtained food and aid for victims of the war between Janjaweed militias and anti-government rebel forces. He next went to Pakistan before assuming the role of country representative for Afghanistan in 2008.
The selection committee felt that McGarry demonstrated a strong commitment to the social teachings of his faith and sought to make the world a more just place through concrete actions.
McGarry credits his family and the Catholic environment in which he was raised as factors that contributed to his interest in helping people who are less fortunate.
His mother, Florence, was assistant director of continuing education at the American International School in Western Massachusetts. His father, Thomas, is a former Xaverian brother and was a school superintendent from 1987 to 2004.
The Swanstrom-Baerwald Award for Excellence in the Service of Faith Through the Promotion of International Peace and Development is administered by the IPED program at Fordham.
The award commemorates the memory of Bishop Edward E. Swanstrom (FCRH ’24, GSAS ’38) and Professor Friedrich Baerwald, L.L.D.
Bishop Swanstrom helped found Catholic Relief Services and served as its executive director from 1947 until 1976. Baerwald was Bishop Swanstrom’s dissertation mentor, and was devoted to the teachings ofRerum Novarum. Baerwald served in the German Labor Ministry during the Weimar Republic, fled the Nazis and eventually joined the Fordham faculty.