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Catholic of the Year: A generous man in a mean world

In the neon-lit hellholes of the developing world, young women dressed as sex workers keep a wary eye on the street. Would-be customers who approach them will get nowhere – for these women are not prostitutes but undercover Catholic nuns risking their lives to rescue girls from pimps and sex traffickers.

In April this year, Gramophone magazine named as its Recording of the Month a performance by The Sixteen of the Stabat Mater by James MacMillan, the first setting of the beloved Marian hymn by an important composer for many decades.

Near Victoria Station in London, volunteers at The Passage Day Centre, founded by Cardinal Basil Hume, hand out food to the homeless. They include a man with a gentle American accent who has been working in soup kitchens since the 1970s.

At the British Museum until April, there is “an exhibition so powerful it makes you cry”, according to the Daily TelegraphLiving with godsgathers 160 objects that represent 40,000 years of mankind’s search for the sacred. It begins with an Ice Age sculpture of a creature, half-lion, half-man, and ends with an installation made from the shirts of two tiny children whose bodies were washed up on the island of Lesbos during the Syrian refugee crisis. It was this that made the Telegraph’s critic cry.

The undercover nuns, the new Stabat Mater, the soup kitchen and the heart-wrenching exhibition have one thing in common – or, rather, one person.

He is John Studzinski, a transatlantic investment banker who, after a stellar career at Morgan Stanley, is now one of the most senior figures at Blackstone, the private equity giant.

“Studs”, as his friends call him, is many things: a Wall Street veteran, a connoisseur of the arts, a human rights campaigner, a New England Anglophile with dual British citizenship and a CBE. It goes without saying that he is an exceedingly rich man.

Read more at Catholic Herald. 

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