Archbishop Joseph Kurtz to be Keynote Presenter at Disability Conference

Jul 28, 2014

Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D., newly elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archbishop of Louisville, Ky., will be the keynote luncheon speaker at the 13th Annual U.S. Conference on Disability hosted by The University of Scranton’s Panuska College of Professional Studies.

The daylong conference will be held Wednesday, Oct. 29, in the DeNaples Center. Archbishop Kurtz will discuss disability from a faith-based perspective beginning at 1 p.m.

“Archbishop Kurtz embodies in an exemplary way the Conference of Catholic Bishops’ mission – ‘to promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind,’” said University President Kevin P. Quinn, S.J. “We are honored that he will be a keynote speaker at our annual conference on disability – a conference whose mission is to influence positively the quality of life and wellness of individuals and families living with disabilities.”

Archbishop Kurtz is known as an advocate for persons with disabilities and his lifelong devotion to his brother, Georgie, who had Down’s Syndrome. After their mother died, the then Fr. Kurtz brought Georgie to live with him in the parish rectory in Catasauqua, Pa., and then to the chancery when he was named Bishop of Knoxville, Tenn. Georgie was actively involved in the parish, diocese and community, and lived with his older brother until he died in 2002.

An eloquent writer and exceptionally gifted speaker, Archbishop Kurtz wrote of his relationship with his brother in a reflection posted on the website for the Archdiocese of Louisville. He wrote: “Recently, after celebrating a Mass for our dear mother, I must have looked a little down to him. He gave me a pat on the back and said: ‘Don’t worry. Mom is in heaven. You have me.’ Giving and receiving are intertwined. We never do one exclusively. In the case of my relating to my brother, it is not a cliché to say I have received much more than I have given.”

Archbishop Kurtz has ties to Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania and The University of Scranton. He is a longtime friend of Edward R. Leahy ’68 who, together with his wife, Patricia, is honorary chairperson of the Annual U.S. Conference on Disability.

Archbishop Kurtz was born in Mahanoy City, earned bachelor and master of divinity degrees from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, and a master’s degree in social work from Marywood University. Before becoming Bishop of Knoxville, he served for 27 years in the Diocese of Allentown.

Several other prominent advocates of persons with disabilities will also be keynote presenters at the conference, including Janet L. LaBreck, commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Department of Education, and Kathleen West-Evans, director of business relations for the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR).

Additional information about the conference can be found at, or by emailing the conference co-chairs Rebecca Spirito Dalgin, Ph.D., associate professor of counseling and human services, (, or Lori Bruch, Ed.D, (, associate professor of counseling and human services.



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