Catholic University will host an international group of faith-based humanitarian heroes for a weeklong series of events to introduce their work to the community ahead of the Opus Prize Awards Ceremony on Nov. 3, where a $1 million award and two $100,000 awards will be granted.
The annual Opus Prize, open to exceptional innovators of any faith tradition who have made a meaningful impact tackling the world’s most pressing social problems, is designed to help expand the work of recipients and inspire others to pursue lives of service. The University is the first to twice host one of the most prestigious faith-based humanitarian honors in the world.
“I hope the finalists feel welcomed and they feel celebrated,” said Opus Prize Oversight Committee Co-chair and Campus Ministry Director of Community Engagement, Social Justice and Catholic Social Teaching Emmjolee Mendoza-Waters. “They are so excited and humbled to be named Opus Prize finalists. I hope people learn about their work and get inspired."
The finalists, who will meet each other for the first time on campus this week, are Mack McCarter, founder of neighborhood development non-profit Community Renewal International; Sr. Annie Credidio, BVM, who leads Damien House, a residential hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador for Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients; and Pastor James Movel Wuye, co-founder of Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) in Kaduna, Nigeria, which works to resolve religious tensions peacefully. IMC co-founder Imam Muhammad Nurayn Ashafa will not be able to join his fellow finalists in person due to delays in processing his travel visa that were compounded by ongoing violence in Nigeria.
“This only underscores the vital importance of the work Imam Ashafa and Pastor James are conducting. Interfaith dialogue and leadership is a crucial path toward breaking the cycle of violence and setting the conditions for peace," said Executive Director of the Opus Prize Foundation Kerry Robinson in a statement.
The list of Opus Prize Week events open to the public includes a series of lunchtime conversations featuring each finalist and their work, a joint panel Tuesday evening to discuss building communities for change, and an interfaith prayer service on Wednesday. A pre-awards reception will be followed by the Opus Prize Awards Ceremony on Thursday evening. A full schedule can be found on the University’s Opus Prize website and on The Nest.
Mendoza-Waters said the Opus Prize finalists are also scheduled to visit 14-15 classrooms on campus to help “bring to life” what students are learning through their discussions and coursework. She also said a goal of Opus Prize Week is to inspire students to get involved in their own communities, so there are plans for a site visit to a Community Renewal International neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
“I hope students are inspired by these people of faith and a seed is planted so that they too will grow into inspiring changemakers,” said Mendoza-Waters.