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“Restless Hearts Awaken” The Opus Prize at Villanova

Displayed beautifully throughout campus, the word “OPUS” has become a talking point, but what is it? Created in 1994 by Gerald A. and Henrietta Rauenhorst, the Opus Prize is a faith-based humanitarian prize to recognize those fighting for peace and change. Each year, a different Catholic university is given the privilege of hosting this prize, and this year it will be held at Villanova.

The prize is widely recognized, and the first prize is one million dollars given to the organization the winner represents. Additionally, the other two finalists receive one hundred thousand dollars for their organizations. This year, Opus is recognizing Bishop Paride Taban for his leadership of the Holy Trinity Peace Village in South Sudan; Dr. Kristin Schroeder for founding and working with the International Cancer Care and Research Excellence Foundation, or iCCARE, and Jameka Walker for her work as the Executive director of the Catholic Partnership Schools in New Jersey.
University President Rev. Peter M. Donahue, O.S.A, Ph.D. remarked on Opus. 

“As Villanovans, our University mission calls us to ignite change, and the Opus Prize Foundation embodies this mission by supporting organizations addressing the world’s most pressing social problems,” he said. “We look forward to infusing our Villanova values and traditions to this year’s event, and to helping identify the finalists deserving of this prestigious honor.”

Villanova’s community has taken advantage of this wonderful opportunity to allow students and others to become involved with Opus and understand the important work they are doing. The University has paired student ambassadors with the prize recipients to work closely with them and involve more of the campus in this event. These student ambassadors were chosen last spring and have worked closely with Villanova’s Special Assistant to the Vice President, Alicia Dunphy-Culp, and Associate Dean of Students, Nick Tumolo, to allow for the week to go smoothly. This event will take place from Nov. 6 through Nov. 9, ending with the prize ceremony, along with an open celebration in the Finn Pavilion at 6 p.m. on Nov. 9.

Villanova was chosen to host this prize last summer and since then, students, staff and the community have put in hard work to help identify nominees, select finalists, participate in due-diligence site visits and plan the week on campus. 

Sophomore Ambassador Lauren McLaughlin discussed her role in the process of working with the Holy Trinity Peace Village and nominee Bishop Paide Taban.

“Their love and spirit was an incredibly powerful thing to experience,” McLaughlin said. “This opportunity took me by surprise, but it is easily the most rewarding and meaningful experience I have ever been a part of.” 

This prize not only honors the hard work of these nominees, but has allowed Villanova to become further involved in social change and focus on the theme of “Awakening Restless Hearts.” This prize aims to honor the work of unsung heroes in Villanova’s society and this work mirrors the Villanovan mission to ignite change in our world. 

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