We are delighted that Karl Holtsnider, our retired Parish Administrator and Mission Haiti co-founder, has recently been awarded the Papal Honor “Benemerenti.” The name of the award is translated as serving with distinction, and recognizes his personal commitment both to the Church and to the Holy Father. An Archdiocesan celebration of Vespers with blessing of those receiving ecclesiastical honors has been scheduled for Sunday, September 3 at 3:30 p.m. at the Cathedral. We hope many of our parishioners will attend as a sign of support for Karl.
We are thrilled that Karl has received this significant honor recognizing all that he has done, not only for Holy Family but around the world.
Reasons for Proposing the Candidate:
Karl Holtsnider has dedicated his entire life to the service of the Church. His Franciscan charism has meant that serving the poorest of the poor has always been of paramount importance to him. His life has been spent highlighting the suffering of the poor through documentaries and educational videos, or leading parish outreach efforts to bring aid and succor to them.
Karl traveled extensively, often at personal risk, to some of the least developed and toughest places in the world to capture on film the reality of poverty and the poor. His film work challenged the viewer to embrace Christ’s message of compassion, justice and mercy, and emphasized the responsibility of each of us to do what we can to make the world a more just and loving place.
In his role as Administrator of Holy Family, Karl not only oversaw the building of what was effectively a new parish campus, but he also developed systems, practices and protocols that are still in place and help ensure even to this day that Holy Family is one of the most well organized and well run parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Karl was instrumental in building up not just the bricks and mortar of Holy Family Church, but also in building up a spirit of compassion and concern for the poor, through the establishment of Mission Haiti.
Through his work with Mission Haiti, Karl has also been involved in creating networks of individuals and companies to provide support and resources that have made an incalculable difference to people struggling in poverty. Because of Karl’s efforts and initiative, Cite Soleil, the worst slum in the Western Hemisphere, has a generator which powers a radio station. In large part because of Karl and Mission Haiti, at least two schools have been built for children who previously had no way of going to school, and many wells have been dug to provide clean drinking water for people who previously had no access to clean water. After the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Karl and Mission Haiti were instrumental in raising almost a half million dollars as well as leveraging all kinds of supplies, materials, and human expertise which helped Hands Together (the nonprofit Mission Haiti supports) to be one of the first organizations to recover operationally in Port Au Prince.
Now well into his 80s, Karl continues to make the poor of Haiti his priority, changing for the better the lives of people almost 4000 miles away, day after day. Beneath his always smiling and gentle demeanor, Karl remains laser focused on what still needs to be done to ensure that “justice rolls down like water” so that the “least of God’s children” have what they need to lead their lives in dignity and peace. This is his life’s work and his efforts will not cease until he draws his last breath.