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November 17, 2021 — Three Jesuit ministries were honored last week as recipients of the 2021 Opus Prize, which recognizes leaders and organizations working on long-term, local solutions to address poverty and injustice.

Given annually to recognize unsung heroes of any faith tradition, anywhere in the world, this year’s 1 million Opus Laureate prize was awarded to Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The prize, which was presented at Loyola University Chicago by its president, Dr. Joann Rooney, honors Bob Brave Heart and Fr. Peter Klink, SJ, who have lived and served among the Lakota Sioux in Pine Ridge for more than 75 years combined. Much of their time is devoted to caring for the young people and their families who attend Red Cloud Indian School, which is located in one of the poorest counties in the United States. Both Brave Heart and Fr. Klink have served in a variety of roles at Red Cloud and on the reservation, constantly promoting the merger of Lakota and Catholic spirituality, reconciliation and healing.

Opus Prize Laureates from Red Cloud Indian School, Bob Brave Heart (left) and Fr. Peter Klink, SJ (right), with Dr. Joann Rooney, president of Loyola University Chicago.

The two finalists, which each received $100,000, were the Kino Border Initiative, in honor of its founders, Fr. Sean Carroll, SJ, and the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, and Fey y Alegría, in honor of its director, Noelbis Aguilar. The $1 million prize and two $100,000 awards are collectively one of the world’s largest faith-based, humanitarian awards for social innovation.

The Kino Border Initiative (KBI) is a binational humanitarian aid ministry serving migrants on both sides of the U.S.- Mexico border. KBI was founded in 2009 by six organizations from the United States and Mexico: the California Province of the Society of Jesus, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus, the Diocese of Tucson and the Diocese of Nogales. KBI offers meals and temporary shelter, employment opportunities, legal aid and education, as well as coordinating migrant advocacy efforts. The KBI’s vision is to help make humane, just, workable migration between the U.S. and Mexico a reality.

Sister Tracey Horan, associate director of education and advocacy at KBI, at an advocacy event in October 2020. (CNS photo/Julius Schlosburg)

Fey y Alegría was founded in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1955 by Fr. Jose Maria Velaz, SJ, and is a federation of local NGOs that offer educational opportunities to the poorest sectors of society, along with teacher training and educational radio. Today Fe y Alegria operates in 19 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Its successful model advances the tradition of Jesuit education, promoting cura personalis—care of the entire person.

Students at a Fey y Alegría school

Learn more at opusprize.org.

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