THE ASSOCIATION OF HEBREW CATHOLICS on the occasion of the “Jews and the Church” Conference, New York City, 2005 is pleased to present an award to Dietrich and Alice Von Hildebrand. This award is meant to express the grateful love of your spiritual children of Jewish ancestry, who have been helped by God’s grace working through your mentoring and prayers on their journey into the Church or their path within the Church.
Dietrich Von Hildebrand was himself a convert to the Catholic faith, but from a Protestant background. While living in Europe he was close to Fr. John Oesterreicher, a leading Hebrew-Catholic priest, who founded an organization for the evangelization of Jewish people. Dietrich was often called upon to be the godfather of converts such as Willi Reich and Dr. Pollaczek. He was also a great influence on the life of Siegfried Hamburger and his sister who became Mother Stephanie as a Benedictine nun. Dietrich had a formative influence on Leni Schwarz, wife of Balduin Schwarz one of Dietrich’s foremost philosophical disciples.
When invited to teach in the United States during the period of Dietrich’s flight from his Nazi persecutors, he was a lifelong mentor of another Jewish convert, Neil Diamond who became a Carthusian monk in Vermont.
Both Dietrich and Alice were close to such American Jewish converts as Henrietta Schwarz, Ronda and Martin Chervin, Helen De Sola, Bob Levine, Martha Einson, Steve Block, Susan Lipkowitz, and, after the death of Dietrich, Alice has become a friend of convert Roy Schoeman.
Only in heaven will they know the ripple effect of their teachings and writings on others of Jewish ancestry. They always took great interest in our personalities and background, and especially wanted to respond to the deep yearning in the Jewish soul for the Messiah by bringing us to Jesus in the Catholic Church. Here is the way one Hebrew Catholic, Steven Block, described the impact of Dietrich and Alice:
“What a beautiful couple they were. Dietrich provided the intellectual and spiritual basis for my conversion (mostly through his books) and Lily, for her part the practical, inspirational and living model of a person so immersed in our Lord that His presence emanates through her in humor, warmth, and focused concern … without which the leap from Judaism to Catholicism would have been far more difficult, if not impossible.”