South Bay homeless advocate will attend Papal address to Congress

September 17, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) announced today that 89-year old homeless advocate and Morgan Hill resident Maria Skoczylas will attend Pope Francis's September 24th address to Congress as Lofgren's invited guest.

Skoczylas, a former schoolteacher who sits on the board of directors for five local charitable organizations, has dedicated herself to community service and helping the homeless for nearly three decades. She credits Pope Francis as an inspiration for her continued community service, and in a letter to Lofgren earlier this year, wrote that "when Pope Francis speaks to Congress on September 24th, it would be the greatest pleasure of my life to be present."

"Maria Skoczylas embodies the life that Pope Francis calls on each of us to live," said Lofgren. "I couldn't be prouder to have Maria represent our community during this special occasion in Washington, D.C. 

In June this year, Ms. Skoczylas was selected by NeighborWorks America, a nationwide nonprofit that supports community development, as a recipient of the Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership for investing her energy and talents to bring about change that positively impacts the local community.

"I've been working with the homeless for nearly thirty years," said Skoczylas. "And in my mind I haven't done anything exceptional – I've just stuck with it and haven't let it go. You don't need to do great things; you just carry out your good deeds and practice the act of kindness every day."

His Holiness Pope Francis will visit the United States Capitol on Thursday, September 24, 2015. On that day, he will become the first leader of the Holy See to address a joint meeting of Congress.

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