WASHINGTON — Community Renewal International, a nonprofit in Shreveport, La. is this year’s winner of the Opus Prize, a $1 million award for advancing humanitarian work.
The Opus Prize is given to an unsung hero of any faith tradition from anywhere in the world “who is solving today’s most persistent social problems,” said a news release on the award.
The award was announced Nov. 3 at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Catholic University assisted this year with the award by identifying nominees, helping narrow the list of potential winners, sending delegations of students, faculty and staff on site visits to learn about the nominees’ efforts, and hosting the finalists.
The Opus Prize is awarded on Catholic university campuses each year. Catholic University last participated with the Opus Prize in 2007.
Community Renewal works in both the United States and Africa to renew cities through restoring relationships. It focuses on three primary strategies – Renewal Team, Haven House and Friendship House – to turn neighborhoods into safe havens of friendship and support. It boasts on its website that major crime has dropped an average of 55 percent in its Friendship House areas.
Community Renewal has worked in Minneapolis; Washington, D.C.; Fort Worth and Palestine, Texas; Lawton and Shawnee, Oklahoma; and Ringgold, La. It also has two projects in Cameroon.
Among those who have endorsed Community Renewal’s work are retired television newscaster Tom Jarriel, Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, pro golfers David Toms and Hal Sutton, and former Navy Secretary John Dalton.
Mack McCarter, the founder and coordinator of Community Renewal, is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In 1991, after pastoring churches for 18 years, he moved with his family to his native Shreveport to realize his vision of renewing communities by restoring relationships.
McCarter’s many honors include the Catholic Church Extension Society’s 2019-2020 Lumen Christi Award; the Sister Margaret McCaffrey Award for outstanding service to the community in 2012; the Sacred Heart Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2008; and the Red Mass Society of Shreveport’s Red Mass honoree of the year in 2001.
Two other finalists for the Opus Prize were awarded $100,000: Sister Annie Credidio, a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who founded Damien House, a residential hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador, for people living with Hansen’s disease; and Imam Muhammad Nurayn Ashafa and Pastor James Movel Wuye, honored jointly as co-founders of the Interfaith Mediation Center in Kaduna, Nigeria, an organization dedicated to promoting peace through dialogue amid Christian-Muslim strife.