Janet Sisler, Vice President of Mission Integration at Loyola University Chicago in the United States celebrates Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, as the winner of the $1 million Opus Prize award hosted by Loyola University Chicago. Sisler also celebrates Fe y Alegria and Kino Border Initiative for their recognition as runners up.
The Red Cloud Indian School is a Catholic Institution administered by the Jesuits and the Lakȟóta people, dedicated to growing as a vibrant Church and developing through an education of the mind and spirit. Delegates Peter Klink, S.J., and Bob Braveheart have lived and served among the Lakota Sioux in Pine Ridge, South Dakota 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 the shadow of Wounded Knee in the poorest county in the United States. Founded by the Jesuits in 1888, Red Cloud has educated thousands of primary and high school students, many of whom have gone on to college, technical schools, or service in the military. They graduate from Red Cloud with not just an education, but with a personal roadmap for a better life. Both Bob Braveheart and Father Klink have served in a variety of roles at the school and on the reservation, constantly promoting the merger of Lakota and Catholic spirituality, reconciliation, and healing.
The 2021 Opus Prize represents a particular commitment to the Jesuit principle of being people for and with others. As part of the selection process, Loyola University Chicago recruited a jury of leaders from the public, religious, educational, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors to evaluate more than 20 organizations identified by a variety of “spotters” who sought to highlight faith-based organizations that work to alleviate human suffering in line with the purpose of the Opus Prize Foundation. Nominators, well-acquainted with local and global faith-based nonprofits, completed and submitted nominations on behalf of the nonprofits. Nominations included people and organizations from South Asia, the Middle East, South America, and other regions at the fringes of society. A Loyola jury of public policy experts, scholars, and civic leaders from the Chicago land area reviewed nominations using a common set of criteria to arrive at a shortlist of three to be visited by teams of students, faculty, and staff from the University.
It has been an honor to host the 2021 Opus Prize. We hope the week strengthened our faith and determination to work for a more humane, sustainable, and just world.” Janet Sisler