VILLANOVA, Pa.—Villanova University Director of Disability Services Steve McWilliams, PhD, and the University’s VUnited team have been named a recipient of the “One Body in Christ” Award from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for Persons with Disabilities & Deaf Apostolate. The award was presented at the conclusion of the annual Archdiocesan Mass for Persons with Disabilities on Sunday, April 25, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez was the principal celebrant and homilist at the annual Mass—offered for the intention of persons with disabilities, the deaf community, their families, friends, and caregivers.
The One Body in Christ Award is inspired by the passage in the Bible – Romans 12:5: “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” Those receiving the award show a passion and commitment for promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities within the life of the Church, bringing about positive change with far reaching effects within the community that enable all to experience that we are One Body in Christ. McWilliams and the VUnited team are being recognized for their “innovative, inclusive college programing to enhance the lives of persons with intellectual disabilities,” as well as for the recent launch of the VUnited Scholars program.
McWilliams has served as the University’s advisor to students living with disabilities since 1993. In that role, he oversees student advising, academic support, faculty training and various issues of accessibility on campus. In addition to these responsibilities, McWilliams produces and directs students in the University’s Social Justice Documentary film course. A frequent subject of his creative work has been issues of living with a disability. McWilliams has also written extensively on disability topics including a book, “Green Bananas: The Wisdom of Father Bill Atkinson.” The book details Father Bill’s life after an accident left him paralyzed from the neck below. McWilliams served as an aide for Father Bill for more than two decades.
“Steve’s commitment to serving others is at the core of both his professional and personal life,” said Kathleen Byrnes, Villanova University’s Vice President for Student Life. “He puts the Gospel message to ‘love one another’ into action every day as he touches the lives of students and community members though his efforts. Steve, along with the dedicated Villanova students involved in our VUnited program, are deserving recipients of this award.”