Manila, Philippines, Oct 19, 2003 / 22:00 pm
The 20th Mother Teresa Award was conferred to a woman who is an educator, women's rights advocate, diplomat, civic leader, and promoter of Philippine arts and culture.
Helena Zoila Benitez received the honor at the recent award ceremonies, where she was described as "a versatile, well-rounded person and modern-day Renaissance lady" who "sees no bounds or limits when it comes to helping the poor," reported the Inquirer News Service.
The award was established in 1983 by the Alfonso Yuchengco Foundation Inc. and Manila Jaycees. Inspired by Mother Teresa, the award is given to outstanding individuals who have dedicated their lives in the service of the poor, the destitute and the abandoned. Mother Teresa, the Albanian-born nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity to take care of the poorest of the poor, died in September 1997 at the age of 87. She was beatified yesterday in Rome.
The National Graduate University of Washington, D.C also inducted Benitez recently into the international Democratic Hall of Fame. She was the third to gain this distinction – the first two were former U.S. presidents Harry S. Truman and Ronald Reagan. Benitez also received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontefice from Pope John Paul II in 1994 for her service as a catechist and a Catholic lay leader.