Remembering Father George Mader
Catholic Volunteer Network celebrates the life of our founder, Father George Mader, who entered into new life on June 19, 2018.
Ordained as a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark in 1959, Father George Mader began his first assignments in parish ministry. Inspired by his sister, Patricia’s, experience serving as a volunteer in Statesville, North Carolina, Father Mader founded Catholic Volunteer Network (then known as the Newark Liaison for Lay Volunteers) in mission in 1963. Fr. Mader and Pat worked tirelessly in those early years to increase awareness of the opportunities for lay people to support the mission of the Church through full-time volunteering. He envisioned a “Catholic Peace Corps” and set out to recruit, screen, and place volunteer teachers, nurses and doctors, agriculturists, social workers, carpenters, and others in areas of need. He traveled extensively throughout the United States, visiting volunteers and establishing programs for service. The organization published the first issue of RESPONSE, the most comprehensive guide for international and domestic service, in 1965. Eventually, as the organization grew in scope, the office was moved from New Jersey to Washington, D.C. Fr. Mader remained director until 1978 after appointing a lay director for the program. He went on to spend the next 35 years serving in various ministries including diocesan leadership roles, education, and campus ministry.
Today, 53 years later, Catholic Volunteer Network consists of 185 volunteer and lay mission programs, with over 25,000 people committing to full-time volunteering every year. Fr. Mader’s vision and passion remain alive and well through these men, women, and families that live out their faith through service to those in need. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
Catholic Volunteer Network honors Fr. Mader’s legacy through the Mader Award, given annually to organizations and individuals who make great strides to foster a spirit of volunteerism.
Watch Fr. Mader's account of the founding of Catholic Volunteer Network: