July 11, 2016

July 11, 2016

Just a few days ago, we received the good news that the Opus Prize Board had affirmed the work of our Creighton-selected jurors and formally nominated three finalists for the Opus Prize, to be presented in November at the Holland Center in Omaha.

The Opus Prize is an annual faith-based humanitarian award, recognizing leaders and their organizations for developing creative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. The prize is awarded in partnership with a Catholic university in the United States, and Creighton University is proud to be this year’s host. The partnership provides new opportunities to inspire the next generation of servant leaders.

The Opus Prize is more than an award. It is a promise to inspire students poised to impact the future. It is an opportunity to champion change by recognizing men and women who are already deeply committed to altering oppressive structures or inhuman circumstances. The Creighton motto for the Opus Prize presentation this year states: “Restoring Hope, Lighting the Way Home.”

After a Creighton committee researched and nominated 14 candidates for the prize, another Creighton-selected group of jurists deliberated several hours in January to select three that we believed were the best finalists.

The Opus Prize Board and groups of Creighton faculty and students visited the three sites where the nominees worked in Sydney, Australia; Kolkata, India; and Malawi (Africa). These “due diligence” visits are necessary to determine whether the nominees and their organizations meet the qualifications established by the Opus Board for the prize: faith-based; socially entrepreneurial; sustainable; and able to receive a sizable influx of funding to enhance the work already being accomplished.

The winning finalist will receive a $1 million prize, and the other two finalists will each receive $100,000 for their projects. The winning finalist will be announced on Nov. 17, when Creighton hosts the prize presentation at the Holland Center.

The finalists are:

Rev. Peter Balleis, SJ, international director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) until last November, and currently director of the Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM) program, which he developed while directing JRS. This program is a highly innovative effort to restore hope by providing higher education opportunities through online courses to those trapped in refugee camps and in places where higher education is not available. Creighton University is proud of the fact that we support the work of JC:HEM with online courses offered by faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Heider College of Business. The Opus Prize Board determined that any prize money would support the further development of the JC:HEM program.

Sr. Anne Jordan, PBVM, coordinator of Cana Communities Incorporated. Sr. Anne was also selected very strongly by the juror group and enthusiastically endorsed as a candidate for the prize after the due-diligence visit. The visiting group members were deeply moved by the way Sr. Anne and her staff and colleagues invite the homeless of eastern Australia to a new way of living in communities of care that are highly successful in enabling men, women, and children to find “homes” and hope again in a world that too often sees them as unworthy of such attention.

Ms. Sarah Lance of the Word Made Flesh Christian group, co-founder of the Sari Bari organization in India. Sari Bari aims to restore dignity and hope through meaningful work and adequate income to women and children who have been kidnapped, purchased, or, through degrading poverty, coerced into the commercial sexual-trafficking network in the city of Kolkata and the surrounding southeastern region of India. The Sari Bari organization works to prevent new trafficking of women and children by providing employment, support and restoration. Lance is an American who has spent more than 11 years in Kolkata laboring for dignity and justice for women.

We at Creighton are honored to partner with the Opus Prize Foundation, and will host the three finalists on campus during the week of Nov. 13-17, 2016. We have chosen Restoring Hope, Lighting the Way Home as our theme for the Opus Prize Celebration and the projects that will be done in the weeks leading up to it. Throughout the fall semester, we are asking all of our schools and colleges to engage in serious study and reflection on the three world problems that these prize finalists have sought to alleviate. This partnership between Creighton and the Opus Prize Foundation fits very well into the Creighton Global Initiative that I announced last fall, and I am very pleased that we have this wonderful opportunity to engage our faculty, staff, and students in becoming those who also light the way home for their brothers and sisters across the globe.

Sincerely,

Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ