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Villanova University and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Partner in “Playing for Peace”



-Villanova and Seton Hall will join forces with CRS in “Playing for Peace” at Jan. 18 men’s basketball game

-Playing for Peace initiative, “Stay with Sudan: Build a Future,” aims to harness the power of college athletics to shine a light on the Sudanese people, who remain at risk for violence, hunger and displacement

VILLANOVA, Pa. – When the Villanova University men’s basketball team takes on Seton Hall University Jan. 18 at The Pavilion (7 p.m.), the teams will be playing for more than just a victory. Villanova and Seton Hall will join forces with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in “Playing for Peace.” The Playing for Peace initiative, “Stay with Sudan: Build a Future,” aims to harness the power of college athletics, in order to shine a light on the Sudanese people who remain at risk of violence, hunger, displacement and human suffering.

Playing for Peace is co-sponsored by the Villanova University Partnership with CRS, the Villanova University and Seton Hall University athletic departments, and the Villanova University Center for Peace and Justice Education. The event is one of a series of University-wide efforts at Villanova in 2011-12 addressing the situation in Sudan and South Sudan.

As part of this initiative, CRS will provide the coaching staff of both teams with special Playing for Peace ribbons to wear during the game. Villanova and Seton Hall have also designed shooting shirts for players to wear during pre-game warm-ups and halftime. Additionally, CRS student ambassadors will greet fans as they enter the arena to distribute half-page fact sheets with information about “Playing for Peace,” and instructions for an important legislative ask. A halftime ceremony featuring remarks from the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President, will further shine a light on the importance of “Staying with Sudan.”

Villanova alumnus and Sudanese “Lost Boy” Malual Deng-Duot ‘11, as well as other Lost Boys living locally in Philadelphia, will be in attendance for the event.

“The Playing for Peace initiative is unique in that it unites the justice-oriented mission of Villanova University with its community passion for basketball,” said Dr. Jennifer Joyce Kissko, Villanova Center for Peace and Justice Education.

“By concentrating the game on an important and timely global issue of peace, it enables the Villanova community to come together and reflect on how athletics, as sport, can also serve as a vehicle for justice – offering a distinctive opportunity to educate, advocate, pray and play in pursuit of peace for greater humanity,” added Kissko, the principal organizer for the Playing for Peace event.

In anticipation of the 2011 Sudanese referendum vote, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and CRS launched the Campaign for Peace in Sudan initiative to raise awareness, advocacy and prayers for the people of Sudan. The Villanova University community actively participated in the campaign. Despite a peaceful vote that resulted in South Sudan seceding to become the world's newest nation, peace and stability in all of Sudan remain at a critical juncture. Political tensions and allegations of attacks on civilians are occurring in the disputed border areas daily.

“CRS sees the shared Catholic mission of Villanova University and Seton Hall University, which educates their students to become global citizens committed to a peaceful world, as an opportunity to use the power of their voice and their resources to advocate for and give continued support to peace in Sudan,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Vice President, U.S. Operations, Catholic Relief Services.

Other Villanova University initiatives in the Campaign for Peace in Sudan include:

  • In Nov. 2010, the University held a Vigil for Peace in Sudan. In addition to a candle lighting and prayer, participants made cell phone calls to the White House comment line, encouraging President Obama to continue to press for peace and stability in Sudan before, during and after the referendum.
  • In Jan. 2011, the University sponsored a bus trip to take graduate student and Sudanese “Lost Boy” Malual Deng-Duot, and other Lost Boys living locally in Philadelphia, to Virginia to vote in the Sudanese referendum election. 
  • In Nov. 2011, Villanova held a ceremony to officially raise the new South Sudanese flag at the University’s Connelly Center. Sudanese “Lost Boys” and other Sudanese dignitaries from Washington, D.C., attended the event.
  • Upcoming Catholic Social Teaching and Human Rights Conference (March 19-20, 2012) features experts on Sudan and Human Rights.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the official overseas humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community. It works in nearly 100 countries to alleviate suffering and provide assistance to people in need without regard to race, religion or nationality. Program areas include: Emergency Relief, Food Aid, Agricultural Development, Community Health, Water and Sanitation, HIV/AIDs prevention and treatment, Education, Peacebuilding. In 2005, Villanova University, Seattle University, Santa Clara University, Notre Dame University, and Cabrini College entered into a formal institutional partnership with CRS.