Enough for All Forever

Villanova’s second annual Anti-Poverty Symposium highlights the intersection of poverty and sustainability

an Anti-Poverty Symposium panel features three men seated in leather chairs

Aptly held during Earth Week this year, Villanova’s second annual Anti-Poverty Symposium brought together a host of renowned experts, thought leaders and advocates to discuss the need for unified and collective action on the interconnected issues of poverty and sustainability.

Over the course of the daylong event, distinguished speakers from around the world–among them, Catholic Church leaders, nonprofit CEOs and founders and bestselling authors–presented on the theme of “Unitas in Action: Fighting Poverty and Living Sustainably.”

“The intersection of climate crisis and poverty is a key theme of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si,” says Stephanie Sena ’03 MA, the inaugural Anti-Poverty Fellow at the Charles Widger School of Law. “In the words of Pope Francis, we need ‘swift and unified collective global action’ to repair our common home.”

This can be a truly inclusive and uniquely Augustinian and Catholic approach to sustainability.

The Rev. Kevin DePrinzio, OSA, PhD

The symposium, hosted by Villanova Law in collaboration with the Villanova Sustainability Leadership Council and the Office for Mission and Ministry, brought together a diverse lineup of presenters with a broad range of expertise, experience and policy and research perspectives to contribute to the discussion of what that collective action looks like.

The first panel of the day, featuring panelists Cardinal Robert W. McElroy, bishop of San Diego, and Cardinal Peter Turkson, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and one of the primary contributors to Laudato Sí, was moderated by Jose Aguto ’94 JD, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant (pictured below). Their discussion focused on the imperative for action to alleviate poverty amidst climate change.

the Villanova Pastoral Musicians perform in the front of the St. Thomas of Villanova Church
The symposium’s events kicked off on April 17 with an evening concert in the St. Thomas of Villanova Church by the Villanova Pastoral Musicians, who captivated attendees with their performance of Missa Gaia — a contemporary ecumenical and ecological sight-and-sound concert-Mass that engages the audience’s senses to connect with the gift of creation. PHOTO: VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY/PAOLA NOGUERAS

“This is not something that we can remain calm or passive about,” Cardinal McElroy said during the morning panel. “It’s something we have to take up as part of our vision as disciples of Jesus Christ, and within the whole world community.”

Reflecting on an Augustinian framework for Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si, the Rev. Kevin DePrinzio, OSA, PhD, vice president for Mission and Ministry, considered how the symposium invited attendees to reevaluate and expand the very idea of community.  

“Now is the time for Villanova to widen and deepen our understanding and lived expression of community to include the rest of creation, and articulate and show how all of our relationships are interconnected, having moral and ethical implications,” says Father DePrinzio. “This can be a truly inclusive and uniquely Augustinian and Catholic approach to sustainability.”


The Anti-Poverty Symposium is part of Villanova’s Initiative to End Poverty and Inequality, made possible by a gift from Paul Tufano Esq., ’83 VSB, ’86 CWSL and Christine Tufano ’84 CLAS, ’86 MA. This interdisciplinary initiative supports academic programming and scholarly research to generate concrete ideas and policy solutions to help address the systemic issues of inequality, which in many cases intersect with, exacerbate or lead to poverty.


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