Charity head named CNN ‘Top Ten Hero’ finds inspiration in papal encyclical

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Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow with children in Haiti

The television network CNN has named Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, the founder of the Scotland-based Mary’s Meals charity, as a “Top Ten Hero” eligible to be named CNN’s Hero of the Year through an online vote. He recently praised Pope Benedict’s first encyclical as “incredibly beautiful, profound and inspiring.”

A former salmon farmer, MacFarlane-Barrow is now chief executive officer of an organization which helps feed hungry schoolchildren in developing countries.

He will be invited to attend an award ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in Hollywood in November, where he will receive a prize of $25,000 in recognition of his achievements.

"I never cease to marvel at the way doors seem to open for Mary’s Meals,” MacFarlane-Barrow commented in a press release. “I know lots of heroes and I am not one of them. However I realize that this is the most amazing chance to tell more people about the difference that a meal a day, in school, can make to a child's life.”

The shortlist for the award was drawn up by a panel of celebrities and famous figures such as former boxer Mohammad Ali, businessman Sir Richard Branson, singer Ricky Martin and supermodel Alek Wek.

Earlier this month MacFarlane-Barrow spoke with EWTN News about the decision to include a collection for Mary’s Meals in the St. Ninian’s Day Parade in Edinburgh during the recent papal visit. He described Mary’s Meal’s as “a work of the heart” rooted in the belief that no child should go hungry.

While Mary’s Meals is not an agency of the Catholic Church, the group is named for the Virgin Mary and its founders were inspired by their Catholic faith.

MacFarlane-Barrow also told EWTN News he was grateful for Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” “God Is Love.” The charity leader called it “incredibly beautiful, profound and inspiring.”

“He informs us how to do the work we do; how to serve our Lord in serving the poor,” he commented.

The Mary’s Meals head appeared in a short film about the charity’s work feeding more than 400,000 children. The film aired across CNN networks in the summer and will continue to be shown online as part of the Hero of the Year vote.

The vote is open until Nov. 18. Its winner will be announced at the Nov. 25 award ceremony on Thanksgiving night on CNN.

CNN’s website for the film and the vote is at The Mary’s Meals website is

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