By Paschal Norbert
VILLANOVA, NOVEMBER 10, 2023 (CISA) – The late Bishop Paride Taban Abraham Kenyi, emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Torit, South Sudan, has been named the 2023 Opus Prize Laureate.
Bishop Taban, who died on November 1 in Nairobi, Kenya, has been recognized for his efforts in peacebuilding in South Sudan and the establishment of the Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron – an intentional community for people of diverse ethnic backgrounds who have experienced conflict.
The late prelate was honoured with the prize in an award ceremony at Villanova University in Pennsylvania on Thursday evening, November 9.
According to the announcement by the University and the Opus Prize Foundation, “As the winner of the annual faith-based humanitarian award, Bishop Taban’s Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron will receive the one-million-dollar prize that recognizes social entrepreneurship championing faith-filled change.”
In a press release shared with CISA by Villanova University, Dr Margaret Itto, the Deputy Chairperson of the Board for Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron and State Minister for Health in Eastern Equatoria State, South Sudan, received the award posthumously on behalf of the late bishop, who will be interred today, November 10, at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral – Torit.
In her acceptance speech, Dr Itto said “Although it saddens me deeply that Bishop Taban is not here with us, I am truly honoured to accept this award on his behalf and help recognize the passion and devotion he gave to Holy Trinity Peace Village.”
“He has impacted so many lives in Sudan through not only the founding of The Village but the continued love he provided to its community for almost 20 years. His impact will be felt there forever,” she averred.
The Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron, founded by Bishop Taban in 2005 with a focus on conflict resolution and peacebuilding, as well as agricultural training, education, health services and food security, has allowed thousands of Sudanese affected by years of armed conflict and struggle in the North to flourish in peace.
In remembering the selfless heroics of Bishop Taban, Villanova University President, Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, said “Bishop Taban dedicated his life to promoting peace and compassion for those in need, regardless of faith or background. As an institution grounded in the values of St. Augustine, who preached about the power of communities dedicated to love, Villanova University is immensely honoured to celebrate the life and work of Bishop Taban, and to have the 2023 Opus Prize as part of his legacy.”
In addition to the $1 million prize, the two other finalists of the 2023 Opus Prize: Dr. Kristin Schroeder, the co-founder of the International Cancer Care and Research Excellence Foundation (iCCARE) and Jameka Walker, the Executive Director of Catholic Partnership Schools (CPS), were each awarded the $100,000 prizes.
“Each of the finalists, through three diverse avenues, has shown the same remarkable commitment to faith-based service, bettering the lives of countless individuals,” said Kerry Alys Robinson, executive director of The Opus Prize Foundation.
“They have all left an indelible mark on their communities and the world, and we cherish this opportunity to recognize and celebrate their extraordinary humanitarian efforts,” she added.
Established in 1994 by the founding chairman of earlier Opus Companies, the Opus Prize Foundation is a private and independent non-profit foundation. Each year, it selects universities as partners to organize and execute the Opus Prize selection process and awards ceremony.
This year, the foundation selected Villanova University, USA, to host the 2023 Opus Prize. The university was charged with overseeing the process of identifying nominees, selecting finalists, participating in due-diligence site visits, planning the awards week on campus, and most importantly, inspiring others to ignite change in their respective work and organizations.