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Rev. Andrew O’Connor to deliver 2011 Baccalaureate sermon - May 20

The Rev. Andrew More O’Connor, a parish priest for Holy Family in the Bronx in New York City and founder of a nonprofit apparel line that provides a living wage to Mayan Indian weavers in Guatemala, will deliver Elon University’s 2011 Baccalaureate sermon on May 20 in Alumni Gym at 3 p.m.

The sermon in which he will share more about his faith-based social entrepreneurship efforts.

The fifth of nine children from New Haven, Conn., O’Connor was ordained by the Archdiocese of New York in 1996. Prior to his assignment with Holy Family – a parish noted for its most famous congregant, music and film star Jennifer Lopez – O’Connor served for six years with Holy Trinity parish on the Upper West Side.

In 2000, he first founded a non-profit organization, Sacredartheals, to create an opportunity for the prophetic role of arts in the Church.

The idea for his second nonprofit venture, Goods of Conscience, grew from a 2005 retreat in rural Guatemala, where O’Connor noticed how the tradition of back-strap weaving had “in many ways become a lost art.” O’Connor set out to not only preserve the art form, but to give the Mayan Indian weavers a living wage.

Goods of Conscience produces in Guatemala a trademarked cloth called Social Fabric™, a hand-woven fabric made of heritage, color-grown cotton from a family farm. It is the only commercially grown cotton left in Guatemala. After the fabric is imported to the United States, seamstresses from the Bronx manufacture a line of clothing and accessories for men, women, children and the home. Goods of Conscience also produces a line of clerical goods and school uniforms.

The seven Bronx employees and the 30 people who produce the fabric in Guatemala help Goods of Conscience sell about 350 pieces per year, which equates to $12,000 of revenue each month.

Elon’s 121st commencement exercises are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 21, Under the Oaks in front of West Residence Hall on the Elon campus. Commencement exercises for the Class of 2011 at Elon University School of Law are scheduled for Sunday, May 22, at 3 p.m. at The Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro.

Eric Townsend,
5/20/2011 4:40 PM