Jim Towey, Assistant to the President of the United States and Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, was the keynote speaker at the thirty-eighth annual Red Mass, held Friday, September 30 in the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica. Most Rev. Lawrence E. Brandt, J.C.D., Ph.D., was the principal celebrant. Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., concelebrated and gave the homily. The Red Mass is sponsored by Saint Vincent Archabbey, Seminary, and College and the Diocese of Greensburg.
Jim Towey was appointed in 2002 by President Bush to lead the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He also advises him on church-state and compassion issues, and reports directly to the President.
Prior to his current work at the White House, Mr. Towey spent ten years as a senior advisor to Republican U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield and Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles, serving the latter as secretary of Florida’s health and social services agency and its 40,000 employees. After leaving state government he created a planning document called “Five Wishes” that today helps millions of families maintain human dignity at the end of life. Mr. Towey’s work in support of those in need has led to numerous honors, including an honorary doctorate from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2004.
In April of 2000, Mr. Towey received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Papal Cross Award from Pope John Paul II. Most significant in Mr. Towey’s life, however, was his work and friendship with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He met Mother Teresa in 1985 and went on to serve as her legal counsel for 12 years. Mr. Towey lived for a year in Mexico in one of Mother Teresa’s missions and in 1990 worked full-time in her Washington, DC home for persons with AIDS. He had the privilege to travel occasionally with Mother Teresa and see first-hand her faith and compassion in action.
Mr. Towey and his wife, Mary, have five children — Jamie, Joseph, Maximilian, John and Marie Therese