Msgr. Enzler, head of Catholic Charities, is named a Washingtonian of the Year
Monday, December 31, 2012 7:51 AM
Msgr. John Enzler, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, has been named a 2012 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine. In its January 2013 edition, the magazine continues its 41-year tradition of honoring "local heroes who make this a better place for all." The Washingtonian profile highlights Msgr. Enzler's personal approach in helping the poor and forgotten, and he says his years of priestly service and community outreach have prepared him for his current work of leading Catholic Charities.
"We're just getting started in how much good the community and Catholic Charities can accomplish together," said Msgr. Enzler in a statement after being named a Washingtonian of the Year. "As a D.C. native, this is a great honor. And it reflects all the staff, volunteers and especially clients at Catholic Charities who bring the courage and hard work to make miracles happen."
Msgr. Enzler began leading Catholic Charities in July 2011 and has placed special emphasis on engaging the community, growing the volunteer base and strengthening Catholic Charities infrastructure, stressing the agency's good works in serving neighbors in need, helping people from many different faiths and backgrounds rebuild their lives. Last year, Catholic Charities served more than 120,000 people through 63 programs in 48 locations throughout the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Prince George's, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's Counties in Maryland.
Catholic Charities has been serving those in need in the Washington area since the Great Depression, a legacy of faith and service that continues now in the digital age. "The Catholic Church is a leader in providing the help and hope that the poor in our midst need to live full and dignified lives," Msgr. Enzler said when he was named to lead Catholic Charities. The agency's staff and volunteers, he added, "do God's work, day in and day out."
In an earlier interview with the Catholic Standard, Msgr. Enzler said what he loved most about his work leading Catholic Charities is, "I love that every day I am directly serving the needs of the poor and answering the Gospel's call to serve the hungry, the naked, the thirsty, and the sick. That's my 'job.' I get to live the Gospel fully each and every moment."
The priest, who had served in recent years as the Archdiocese of Washington's vicar for development, has helped Catholic Charities significantly increase its fundraising from a wide range of sources, and increase its visibility in the community. In the Catholic Standard interview, he noted, "The key to good ministry is to respond personally to the need and if possible bring together a network of people who can help. And that's what we do at Catholic Charities."
The Washingtonian profile highlighted Msgr. Enzler's earlier work in helping to form Potomac Community Resources, which provides outreach to people with disabilities and their families, and the Shepherd Foundation, which has raised $6.3 million to help students in need attend Catholic schools in the Washington area.
Msgr. Enzler, who was ordained a priest for the archdiocese in 1973, served as pastor of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, and Mount Calvary in Forestville, and as a parochial vicar at Little Flower Parish in Bethesda. He has also served at St. Jane de Chantal Parish in Bethesda, and at St. Bartholomew Parish in Bethesda, where he is now in residence.
Msgr. Enzler is a graduate of Our Lady of Lourdes School in Bethesda, St. John's College High School in Washington, and Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg. From 1979-90, he served as executive director of the archdiocese's Office of Youth Ministry and Catholic Youth Organization.
A 2007 vocations profile of Msgr. Enzler in the Catholic Standard noted his phone message: "Remember, today is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God." He praised the example of his parents, the late Deacon Clarence and Kathleen Enzler, who raised their 13 children in a Bethesda house filled with prayer and fun. "They lived their faith every day," he said.
The priest recalled how the children sometimes knelt on different steps as they prayed the family rosary together. Once as a boy accompanying his dad to morning Mass, the future priest witnessed his father handing the coat off his back to a homeless man they met on the way. "You witness that, and you say, 'that's how you're supposed to live, how you take care of the poor, not give them leftovers, but give out of your own blessings,'" Msgr. Enzler said.
Growing up in a big family prepared him for his work as a priest, Msgr. Enzler said. "I was blessed because of my family. I was used to working with all ages and learning to give and take and work things out." He said he has a "keen desire to pass on the faith" given to him by his family and by the priests, sisters and teachers who inspired his vocation. He joked that maybe he sometimes delivers his homilies too fast because he grew up trying to get a word in edgewise with his large family.
Giving back to God has been at the heart of his priesthood, and now is at the heart of his work leading Catholic Charities. In that vocations interview, the priest who prefers to be called "Father John" said, "As a disciple of the Lord, we need to give back to the Lord." Then he added, "Being selfless is allowing God's grace to come alive in you, and to become what God wants you to be."
Another local Catholic named as a 2012 Washingtonian of the year is John Kane, who owns the Kane Company, the largest commercial moving company in the United States, founded by his father, the late Eugene Kane. John Kane, whose uncle is Msgr. Thomas Kane, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, founded the Kane Furniture Bank, which provides furniture to non-profit groups serving those in need. The article notes that John Kane and his wife Mary also fund a scholarship to Georgetown University for a graduate of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park.
In 2007, Luis "Lucho" Vasquez was named a Washingtonian of the Year for his work in starting several programs for the homeless. Today he serves as the Division Director for Housing and Support Services for Catholic Charities. For more information on the work of Catholic Charities and how to help, visit www.CatholicCharitiesDC.org.