Chicago, IL - - The Board of Directors of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA), will confer the organization's highest recognition, the Distinguished Catholic Leadership Award, on Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, C.S.B, of the Diocese of Las Cruces, on October 14, 2010.

Bishop Ramirez was chosen to receive the award from the Catholic philanthropic community, "for his vision in shepherding with great wisdom and superb stewardship a home mission diocese of the United States," said Francis J. Butler, FADICA's president. He is also being selected "for his courageous advocacy for human dignity and empowerment of the poor," Dr. Butler noted.

The bishop will receive the award from FADICA at a special dinner in his honor given by the organization here on the eve of a conference it is co-sponsoring with the Catholic Church Extension Society.

The conference will explore the ministry of women religious in the home mission dioceses of the United States. Catholic Extension funds 33 mission dioceses enabling them to employ women religious in a variety of capacities from diocesan management to social services.

This is the tenth year in which the FADICA organization has conferred the DCLA. Past honorees include Cardinal John P. Foley, the late Chilean Jesuit; Father Renate Poblete, vocations and seminary researcher; Sister Katarina Schuth, O.S.F., Education for Parish Service founder; the late Sr. Joan Bland, S.N.D.; and founder of the Cristo Rey high schools network, Father John P. Foley, among others.

Bishop Ramirez became the first bishop of the newly established Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 1982. In addition to organizing an entire diocese with few personnel resources or funds, the Bishop took an active role to empower the poor and to eliminate poverty and injustice there.

Bishop Ramirez established the Colonias Development Council in the Diocese of Las Cruces to help residents of the 34 colonias, or settlements, located along the U.S./Mexico border. A colonia is any identifiable community along the border lacking a potable water supply, with inadequate sewage systems and a shortage of decent, safe, and sanitary housing.

Bishop Ramirez has also played an influential role at the national level as an advocate of religious freedom, as a member of the Domestic Social Development Committee of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, and as a board member of the Catholic Church Extension Society.