Keynote address caps off Mission Week

Panelists discussed expanding our comfort zones and why “The World is Our Home” Thursday at the Mission Week keynote address. The event was the conclusion of Mission Week.

The discussion featured the Opus Prize recipients, who spoke about Mission Weeks central theme “The World is our Home.” The Opus Prize is given annually to a person of any faith and from any country who is solving the social problems of today, according to the Opus Prize website.

The 10 keynote speakers each conveyed their personal stories, while calling upon the audience to see beyond their own lives and families to see the world as their home.

One of the most powerful stories came from Aïcha Ech Channa, founder and president of the Association Solidarité Féminine. Channa said through a translator that she declared war on her country in a soft way to help single mothers and their children.

Channa won the Opus Prize in 2009 for founding the organization in Casablanca, Morocco that fights to give single mothers basic rights. In Morocco, single mothers have little to no rights, and a father doesn’t even have to recognize that a baby is his because of a strong traditionalist stigma. Channa said she is trying to provide the women with the most basic essentials.

Throughout the event, the speakers referred back to the reason for their work and how those works can make the world stronger.

Don Neureuther, the executive director of the Opus Prize Foundation, said in his introduction, “You have been welcomed with open arms this week by the Marquette community, but your presence and participation this week is a moment of grace in this institution.”

Neureuther’s sentiments were mirrored in the speech given by University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz at the event, when he said that having the Opus Prize recipients at Marquette was an inspiration to the student body. Pilarz said it was humbling and a privilege to share the stage with them.

“Thank you for making the world your home and for inspiring us to make the world our home,” Pilarz said.

Sheena Carey, internship coordinator in the College of Communication, narrated the event. She said she jumped at the opportunity to be a part of another Mission Week.

“It was very powerful,” Carey said. “I wish there had been more time, because all we were really able to get were just sort of snippets of their biographies. I walked out of there and I told somebody that I felt completely inadequate. I’ve done absolutely nothing with my life when you put it against the backdrop of what those people had been doing and are continuing to do.”

Carey said she hopes everyone in attendance took away the same message she did from the speakers.

“What I hope they took out is the message that I got: You don’t have to be important or powerful in the sense that you have some sort of political power to really be able to make change, and it can start with just one other person whose life you can touch,” Carey said.

Carey said that the keynote was essentially a reflection of Marquette’s mission statement in action.

“When I think about that connection that we all have, that sense that we are not impotent or powerless, we can do and we have a responsibility to help others,” Carey said. “It was a great way to see it in action. You get a lot in terms of the theory, and you may get some opportunities to do things locally, but to just see this mission sort of at large around the globe. I’m hoping that they got a chance to make that connection.”