Community Renewal International (CRI), founded by Mack McCarter in Shreveport, La., is the winner of the $1 million Opus Prize annual faith-based humanitarian award. University President Dr. Peter Kilpatrick made the announcement during a Nov. 3 ceremony held on campus.
“We are so honored to host the prize a second time,” said Dr. Kilpatrick during his remarks, noting that the first time was in 2007. “Having met all the wonderful finalists over the last few days…I know each of them is richly deserving of this recognition.”
CRI, which has a presence across the United States and in Africa, works with local residents to revitalize cities through inter-related educational and community building programs. Major crime has plummeted in CRI neighborhoods and the relationships formed have led to creative solutions to strengthen the common good.
“My heart is overflowing with unbelievable gratitude,” said McCarter upon receiving the award on behalf of CRI. He thanked his family and all those who have committed their lives to CRI’s mission to build strong communities block by block since he founded the nonprofit in his hometown in 1994.
The Opus Prize Foundation partners with a different Catholic higher education institution each year to help organize the selection and nomination process, select student and faculty Opus Prize ambassadors to travel to each nonprofit for due diligence trips, and host awards-week events in part to help connect each university to changemakers throughout the world.
Biochemistry senior Darby Drake, who was one of several Opus Prize student ambassadors to co-host the awards ceremony, said she was so inspired by the CRI neighborhoods she visited in Shreveport that she is working with the organization to start a chapter in her hometown of Frederick, Md.
“I know my life will never be the same thanks to the Opus Prize experience,” said Drake.
Opus Prize University student ambassador Darby Drake speaks at the awards ceremony.
Sr. Annie Credidio, BVM, founder of Damien House, a residential hospital in Ecuador that treats people suffering from Hansen’s disease (leprosy) and Pastor James Movel Wuye, co-founder of Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) in Nigeria attended the awards ceremony. Their organizations each received $100,000 to help continue their humanitarian work. Imam Muhammad Nurayn Ashafa, who was also a finalist as the co-founder of IMC, was unable to attend the ceremony due to visa delays related to the spike of violence in Nigeria.
Pastor James Movel Wuye asked the audience for their prayers during a time of turmoil for Nigeria.
The University hosted each of the finalists for a series of events leading up to the awards ceremony, including lectures and attending classes to engage with students. Each thanked the University for the hospitality and for providing an opportunity to connect with each other, with Pastor Movel describing McCarter and Credidio as newfound brother and sister. He said he received the news that another grandchild was born the same day as the Prize ceremony, making the day doubly blessed.
Sr. Annie Credidio, BVM thanks the Opus Prize for providing the means to continue the ministry of Damien House.
“I am so touched to be with you on this journey and I hope we continue this connection,” said Sr. Credidio, reflecting on their time getting to know each other at Catholic University. “This whole week has been an injection of new energy…a witness to God’s power working in all of us.”