The Catholic University of America

Nov. 7, 2007

CUA Greets Opus Prize Finalists with Discussion and Prayer

More than 400 Students, Faculty and Staff Welcome the Three Humanitarians

From left, Dean James Zabora with Rev. John Adams, Rev. Norberto Carcellar and Brother Constant Goetschalckx at the Pryzbyla Center.

After months of preparation, the CUA community participated in a series of events with the three finalists for the 2007 $1 million faith-based humanitarian Opus Prize that celebrated their life-long contributions to the poor.

Rev. Norberto Carcellar, C.M., executive director of the Homeless People's Federation Philippines, which was an Opus Prize finalist, delivered a presentation titled "The Legal Challenges of Organizing the Homeless: A Philippine Success Story" on Nov. 8 at the Columbus School of Law.

He was joined by two federation colleagues, Ruby C. Papeleras and Sonia Cadornigara. The group used the small setting of about 25 participants to explain how the organization helps move slum dwellers into homes and promotes a communal savings program as a collective bargaining tool to access land and loans.

"We're trying to prove that we can make a difference, and that we're doing it ourselves," Cadornigara said. "That is the goal: to change perceptions."

By encouraging slum dwellers to save even a peso of their earnings each day, the federation saves enough money to buy land for the community and to create individual loan opportunities for residents. The federation also helps the poor navigate an often complex and elusive maze of housing laws, which had long been the source of mass evictions and homelessness.

On Nov. 6, Father Carcellar and the two other finalists, Rev. John Adams, president of SOME (So Others Might Eat) in Washington, D.C., and Brother Constant Goetschalckx, F.C., founder and director of Tanzania-based AHADI International Institute, joined more than 300 students, faculty and staff for a discussion in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.

The three men spent nearly two hours talking about their organizations and answering a variety of questions from the audience, largely made up of CUA students. Audience members asked the men about the personal experiences that brought each of them to a life of service, what advice they might have for college students considering post-graduate service and, of course, the one-million-dollar question: "What would you do with the $1 million prize money?"

Father Carcellar and Brother Stan, as he is known, also participated in an intimate Mass celebrated by Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M., director of campus ministry, at The House in Caldwell Hall. Father Carcellar concelebrated.

Rev. Robert Schlageter, Father Carcellar and Brother Stan during Mass at The House.

Brother Stan shared a powerful reflection with more than 125 students who filled every available space, sitting on the living room floor, where the Mass was held, and listening from an adjacent room. In his reflection, Brother Stan offered the students a moving account of his personal journey helping to educate refugees from war-torn African countries.

Students from various CUA clubs prepared for the visitors by helping to raise $1,300 with a Penny Wars fundraiser in October to benefit an offshoot of AHADI. The money will help pay the cost of sending approximately 2,500 T-shirts to children in Tanzania as part of a project started by Associate Professor of Education Thomas Long after his summer trip to Kigoma, Tanzania, where he taught for a month at the Institute for Social Work, an affiliate organization of AHADI.

The CUA community is also invited to attend a Nov. 8 Mass celebrated by university president, Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M. The 4:30 p.m. Mass at St. Vincent's Chapel is open to the entire CUA community. The dinner and awards ceremony that will follow are by invitation only.