In a video message shared at diocesan convention, the Peace & Justice Committee announced that the Rev. Sandra Castillo and Newland Smith had received the 2020 S. Michael Yasutake Peace & Justice Award.
The award is named for the Rev. Dr. S. Michael Yasutake, an Episcopal priest ordained in 1950, who fought for the civil rights of African Americans, indigenous people, political prisoners, and those who protested the development of nuclear weapons. Learn more about the Rev. Dr. Michael Yasutake.
The Rev. Sandra Castillo
Following the successful passage of Resolution F-182 “On Becoming a Sanctuary Diocese” at the 2019 convention, Castillo organized the Diocese of Chicago Sanctuary Task Force, recruiting members, developing a work plan, and building relationships with other organizations. She organized training for committee members on immigration and sanctuary through the American Friends Service Committee and became the diocesan liaison with Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).
Working with ICIRR, the task force was prepared to mobilize in support of “Dreamers” protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients in anticipation of the possible termination of the program. The group also encouraged members of the diocese to send statements to elected leaders and administration officials opposing the proposed ICE Citizen Academy in Chicago, which has now been postponed.
Castillo’s commitment to the work of justice began early in her career. She served as a liaison to Juvenile Court for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services before receiving her law degree from DePaul University in 1981. Afterwards she worked as an assistant state attorney in Cook County, as executive director of the Pilsen YMCA, and as assistant attorney general in the Illinois Attorney General’s office.
In 1996, she opened her own law practice and in 1999 joined the Inspector General’s office of the Chicago Board of Education as a case manager.
Castillo received her Master of Divinity degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, was ordained a priest in 2004, and served parishes in the Dioceses of Chicago, Western Michigan, Eau Claire and Oklahoma. She returned to Chicago as a supply priest, and currently serves as an assisting priest at Santa Teresa de Avila in Chicago.
Castillo has served as a board member of Illinois Action for Children, of St. Augustine College and of the Immigration Committee Chair of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. She has also volunteered with the Chicago Legal Clinic. In the diocese, Castillo has chaired the Sanctuary Task Force and the Anti-Racism Commission, and served on the Hispanic Affairs Committee and the Anti-Racism Commission.
She was a member of Episcopal Relief and Development’s board of directors, collaborated on the Episcopal Church’s 2009 Strategic Vision for Reaching Latinos and Hispanics, and served as a committee member of the Hispanic Scholarship Trust Fund. Wherever she sees a need, the Rev. Sandra Castillo steps up and gets to work.
Mr. Newland Smith
Newland Smith, a current member of the Peace & Justice Committee, has been active in the diocese since 1964, when he began his 43-year career as the librarian at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston.
A member of Chicago Diocesan Antiracism Commission since 1999, Smith was the convener of the Chicago Diocesan Task Force on the Legacy of Slavery from 2010-2013. He also served as a member of the Standing Commission on Social Justice and Public Policy for the Episcopal Church from 2009 to 2015. He was part of the writing team for the 2009 General Convention Resolution to Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, and served as a member of the Task Force on the Doctrine of Discovery for the Episcopal Church from 2009-2012.
With his friend, the late Rev. Dr. Cotton Fite, Smith established the Palestine Israel Network (PIN) of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. He has worked with the Anti-War Committee Chicago and the Committee Against Political Repression in Chicago, the local affiliate of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. He also works tirelessly on the Poor People’s Campaign.
Smith served as the consulting librarian at Saint George’s College, Jerusalem from 1983-2014 and has been serving as the consulting librarian at Renk Theological College, South Sudan, since 2008. He was the chair of Chicago Diocesan Archives Committee from 1993-2013 and has been the historiographer of the Diocese of Chicago since 2015. He also served as president of Anglican Theological Review from 2011 to 2014.
Smith has given decades of selfless commitment to working on issues of social justice within the Episcopal Church. He served as a deputy to General Convention from 1988 to 2018. In 2017, Smith traveled to Washington, D.C. for the “Rise with Standing Rock Native Nations March on Washington” with his friend, the Rev. Bob Trask.
He has been recognized many times regionally and nationally for his work for social justice and the Episcopal Church. He won the Bishop’s Award for the Diocese of Chicago in 2013, the Inspiration for Hope Award, Middle East Program of the American Friends Service Committee in 2014, and Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s 2015 Nevin Sayre Peace Award. Additionally, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in May 2007 and an honorary Doctor in Canon Law degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in May 2007. He continues to be work tirelessly, to make a difference in people’s lives, and to serve others in every conceivable way. We honor his lifelong commitment to peace and justice with this award.