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April, 2019

Prepare to Be Inspired:
CUA Celebrates Opus Prize With Films, Talks by Finalists

 

By Catherine Lee

Rev. John Adams

Rev. Norberto Carcellar, C.M.

Brother Constant Goetschalckx, F.C.

At a party last June in Kigoma, Tanzania, CUA senior Anthony Buatti watched as Brother Constant Goetschalckx, F.C., danced with his friends — orphans and elderly people who used to live in the region’s refugee camps. Brother Stan, as he’s known, sang in Swahili with the children, who now live in community homes he helped to establish.

In a region where 500,000 refugees from neighboring war-torn countries live in camps encircled by barbed wire, Buatti says he was struck by Brother Stan’s joy, humility and “faith in action.”

Now Buatti and fellow seniors Tori Engelstad and Jonathon Meyer are involved with upcoming campus events to help the CUA community, especially students, learn about Brother Stan as well as the other two finalists for the $1 million Opus Prize: Rev. John Adams, president of SOME (So Others Might Eat) in Washington, D.C., and the organization named Homeless People’s Federation Philippines, represented by Rev. Norberto Carcellar, C.M., executive director. The October and November events at CUA will include talks by the finalists, film screenings and a Mass.

The $1 million award, which honors an unsung humanitarian hero (defined as an individual or organization), will be presented by The Opus Prize Foundation, in partnership with CUA, at a Nov. 8 dinner in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. The other two finalists will each receive awards of $100,000. Each year the foundation partners with a different Catholic university, an arrangement that allows students to meet and interact with the humanitarian prizewinners and learn firsthand about social entrepreneurship, i.e., helping people learn how to help themselves.

Buatti says that the finalists, who will be on campus for several days during the week of the dinner, will inspire CUA students “to ask themselves questions it’s sometimes easy to ignore, like ‘How can I help others?’ and ‘How can I make a difference in the world?’ ”

The undergraduate history major spent several days in Tanzania as part of a team that included Emmjolee Mendoza Waters, CUA’s associate campus minister for community service, and two representatives of The Opus Prize Foundation. On his trip Buatti met Brother Stan, founder and director of AHADI International Institute, Tanzania, which educates refugees from Congo, Rwanda and Burundi by each year providing post-secondary training for 1,000 students via a distance-learning program and instruction for 25,000 students studying for their high school diplomas.

Tori Engelstad, an architecture major from Bradley Beach, N.J., traveled in June to the Philippines with other Opus delegation members and Bill Jonas, director of CUA’s university center, student programs and events. There they met Father Carcellar, who runs an organization that has enabled squatters living on a sprawling garbage dump to create community savings and credit programs, purchase land, build housing and set up waste disposal and water distribution systems.

Jonathon Meyer, a biochemistry major from Torrance, Calif., stayed in Washington, D.C., where he and other delegation members met Father Adams, president of SOME, which serves more than 800 free meals a day and offers homeless people job training, a clinic, dental services and transitional housing.

To see how the three CUA students describe their life-changing summer trips to check out the Opus Prize finalists, click here.

CUA's Division of Student Life and the Opuz Prize committee, in collaboration with the university's academic departments, are organizing events in October and November tied to the Opus Prize and its theme of social justice. The first is a three-part documentary film series called “In Pursuit of Human Dignity,” which explores the theme of social justice. Following are dates and details of the events:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m.: screening of the 2007 documentary “Sold: Fighting the New Global Slave Trade,” which follows three abolitionists from three different faith traditions, each working to combat slavery in a different part of the world. Jody Hassett Sanchez, director and producer, will be on hand to talk about the movie. William Barbieri, assistant professor of theology and religious studies, will facilitate the event. Caldwell Hall Auditorium.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m.: screening of the 2006 documentary "Black Diamonds,” which looks at the impact of surface coal extraction on the environment and communities of West Virginia. Catherine Pancake, director and producer, will talk about the film afterward. Media studies assistant professor Jennifer Horne will facilitate the event. Caldwell Hall Auditorium.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m.: screening of the 2007 documentary “The Power of Forgiveness,” which examines the role forgiveness can play in alleviating anger and grief, as well as the physical, mental and spiritual benefits that come with forgiveness. Adele Schmidt, producer and editor, will talk about the movie afterward. Linda Plitt Donaldson, assistant professor of social work, will facilitate the event. Caldwell Hall Auditorium.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 6, noon to 2 p.m.: A discussion event titled “Witnesses to Human Dignity: A Conversation With the Opus Prize Finalists” will feature Brother Stan, Father Adams and Father Carcellar. Moderated by Dean James Zabora, the event will include a multimedia presentation about the finalists and a Q-and-A session. Free boxed lunches will be provided. Pryzbyla Center, Great Room.

The film series is targeted at CUA’s student population. The Nov. 6 forum is for the entire Catholic University community.

In a related development, Thomas Long, a CUA associate professor of education who spent a month last summer teaching at the Newman Institute for Social Work in the Kigoma District of Tanzania, is collecting T-shirts and accepting donations to cover the cost of sending them to the refugees in Tanzania. For more information, e-mail Long at long@cua.edu.





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