Each year, the ERCBNA Advocacy Office awards the Blessed Edmund Rice Advocacy Person of the Year Award, which recognizes an ERCBNA School staff member who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to promoting advocacy efforts throughout the academic year. The recipient of the 2022-2023 award is Thane Hall, Director of Campus Ministry at Brother Rice High School.
For many years, Thane has been involved in and led students in campus ministry programs and service immersions around the Edmund Rice Global Network in Peru, Brownsville and Geneva. During the last 8 years, Thane has been an ardent supporter of ERCBNA initiatives, but particularly efforts to implement advocacy programs and understanding in our schools. Over these years, Thane has worked with students, faculty and staff members to creatively develop ways for advocacy to be part of the Brother Rice experience.
Whether it has been advocating for those experiencing homelessness, immigrants and asylum seekers coming to the United States, raising awareness about gun violence in local communities, or combatting food insecurity, Thane has pushed for the Brother Rice community to be more actively engaged in carrying out Blessed Edmund Rice’s charism of using education as a tool to advocate for change.
This past January, Brother Rice’s Human Rights Club sponsored morning announcements about poverty, hunger and homelessness to educate the entire school community. Using the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Poverty Awareness Month as a guide, Brother Rice students highlighted regional poverty, and hunger and homelessness issues that were broadcast on the daily announcements. As a result of this advocacy campaign, Brother Rice students traveled to downtown Detroit to St. Aloysius Catholic Church to provide lunch and clothing to area homeless and those that are experiencing food insecurity.
Perhaps one of the most impressive campaigns that Thane has organized with students at Brother Rice since 2015, is their advocacy efforts surrounding immigration. In 2015, under the leadership of Immersion Coordinator Brother Steve Casey, Thane led students from Brother Rice as one of the first 4 schools to attend the first immersion to Brownsville, Texas.
Since this first trip, Thane has brought back a passion for advocating for recent immigrants and asylum seekers, and shared this with students and staff at Brother Rice. Upon returning from this immersion, Brother Rice has hosted an annual immigration conference that has invited several other local schools to be a voice for justice for migrants. Last February, Brother Rice students traveled to the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, to advocate for the passage of the Drive Safe Bill, which would reestablish the right of immigrants and refugees to obtain a Michigan Drivers’ License or State ID. The students had the opportunity to talk to the aids of Michigan State Representatives and Senators to advocate about the bill. Following the sessions, the young men had the opportunity to pass out talking points to many other State Representatives and Senators.
We congratulate Thane on this award and thank him for living out Blessed Edmund Rice’s Charism as an advocate for the marginalized and voiceless, and for his tireless efforts in promoting education and action surrounding advocacy and human rights at Brother Rice and around the Edmund Rice Global Network.