The Catholic University of America

Nov. 12, 2007

$1 Million Opus Prize Awarded to AHADI International Institute

Opus Prize Foundation, Catholic University Present Award at Nov. 8 Dinner

CUA President Father O'Connell awards the Opus Prize medallion to Brother Constant Goetschalckx.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The $1 million Opus Prize for faith-based humanitarian entrepreneurship was awarded to the AHADI International Institute in Tanzania, at a Nov. 8 dinner attended by 360 people, half of them Catholic University students, at CUA's Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.

At the dinner, Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, presented Brother Constant Goetschalckx, F.C., founder and director of AHADI, with the gold Opus Prize medallion on a blue ribbon and draped it around his neck. Brother Stan, as he is known, is a Belgian-born member of the Brothers of Charity who heads an organization that educates refugees from the war-torn countries of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.

Brother Stan was one of three finalists selected for the fourth annual Opus Prize awarded by the Opus Prize Foundation in partnership with Catholic University. The other two finalists, Rev. John Adams, president of SOME (So Others Might Eat) in Washington, D.C., and the Homeless People's Federation Philippines, represented by its executive director, Rev. Norberto Carcellar, C.M., each received an award of $100,000 and a silver Opus Prize medallion.

Three CUA undergraduates who had paid visits to the finalists - in Tanzania, the Philippines and inner-city Washington, D.C. - introduced them to the audience.

Other attendees of the dinner included:

  • Rev. Trevor Miranda, 2005 $1 million Opus Prize winner and founder and director of the Reach Education Action Programme in Mumbai, India.
  • Monsignor Richard Albert, 2004 $1 million Opus Prize winner and a CUA alumnus who has worked for decades in Jamaica with the organization Helping Hands for the Poor Inc.
  • Brother Rene Stockman, superior general of the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity, and Rev. Robert Maloney, former superior general of the Congregation of the Mission.
  • Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington and former chancellor of Catholic University, and Timothy Shriver, chairman and CEO of Special Olympics - both CUA alumni and both members of the jury that helped to select the Opus Prize finalists.
  • Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, and Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA.
  • Domingo Nolasco, consul general from the Republic of the Philippines, and Machteld Fostier, deputy chief of mission for the Embassy of Belgium.
  • James Bundschuh, president of Marymount University in Arlington, Va., and Rev. Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.
  • University Trustee Neil Rauenhorst and several emeritus trustees of The Catholic University of America.

Senior Anthony Buatti, who traveled to Tanzania to visit AHADI, speaks at the Opus Prize dinner.

Opus Prize jurors Jim Towey, president of St. Vincent College, and Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, attended the pre-dinner Mass held in CUA's St. Vincent Chapel.

The award honors an unsung humanitarian - either an individual or an organization - whose driving entrepreneurial spirit and abiding faith are aimed at solving persistent, large-scale social problems. The Opus Prize Foundation partners with universities, which enables students to meet and interact with the recipients and learn firsthand about social entrepreneurship. The partnering universities are encouraged to integrate the Opus Prize conferral into their curricula.

Brother Stan leads an organization whose Swahili name means "working toward the fulfillment of a promise." AHADI provides post-secondary training for 1,000 via a distance-learning program and instruction for 25,000 students per year studying for their high school diplomas. AHADI was born out of the misery of the ethnic wars and rebel activity that had ravaged Central Africa's Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee to neighboring Tanzania. Himself a teacher, Brother Stan saw not only a tremendous need to educate these refugees, but also a tremendous opportunity.

Father Adams has directed SOME for the past 29 years. Under his leadership, SOME has grown from a soup kitchen that served 50 to 60 people daily with a single employee and two volunteers to an organization that serves more than 850 meals a day and offers medical and dental clinics, counseling, addiction treatment and housing to the homeless with a staff of 250 employees and several thousand volunteers.

The Homeless People's Federation Philippines, represented by Father Carcellar, is an organization that has enabled squatters living on the sprawling Payatas garbage dump in Quezon City, Philippines, to create community savings and credit programs, purchase land, build housing and set up waste disposal and water distribution systems.

Established in 2004, the Opus Prize is a $1 million faith-based humanitarian award and two $100,000 awards given annually to recognize unsung heroes who are working to solve poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease, injustice and other social issues. Opus Prize winners combine an abiding faith with a driving entrepreneurial spirit to combat today's most persistent social problems. The prize is awarded by the Opus Prize Foundation, a philanthropic organization affiliated with The Opus Group, and presented by a college or university, giving recipients an opportunity to inspire the next generation. Opus Prize winners are anonymously selected and the Opus Prize Foundation does not accept unsolicited nominations. For more information, visit www.opusprize.org.

For more information about other Opus Prize-related events that took place Nov. 6-8 at Catholic University, click here. To view videos about the Opus Prize finalists, see http://opusprize.cua.edu/.

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