Sister Marilyn Lacey, RSM, of Burlingame, Calif., truly had a “once in a million” experience this past week. On Oct. 11, she was named the prestigious 2017 Opus Prize Laureate that includes a $1 million award as part of the honor.
Sister Marilyn founded Mercy Beyond Borders in 2008 to bring dignity to women and girls in South Sudan and Haiti through education and job training. She demonstrates a lifelong commitment to giving hope to those displaced by war and political forces given her decades of work with refugees around the world. To date, “Mercy Beyond Borders” has helped more than 1,400 women and girls in South Sudan and Haiti recognize their inherent worth and unique talents.
“I felt called by God to help these women and girls who are suffering,” Sister Marilyn said. “In serving others, we can find a connectedness, a kinship that leads to binding joy.”
She plans to use the prize money to endow more scholarships for her students, expand the reach of her programs, and grow her staff to help even more women and girls in these impoverished and war-torn nations.
The Opus Prize for faith-based humanitarian work was presented by Father John P. Fitzgibbons, S.J., president of Regis University, which was chosen to host this year’s selection process. The other two finalists included Sister Stan Terese Mumuni – founder of Nazareth Home for God’s Children, which works in Ghana caring for children born with physical, mental or behavioral disabilities – and Drs. Jason Reinking and Noha Aboelata, whose work through Roots Community Health Center is providing health care to impoverished people living on the streets of Oakland, Calif. Each of the finalists was awarded $100,000.
“Your work truly restores hope and ignites the possibilities for those who live at the margins,” Father Fitzgibbons said, addressing all three finalists.
In accepting this award, Sister Marilyn urged, “If your work in life is going to be effective and meaningful, you have to be plugged in. I was thinking about the Sisters of Mercy and the depth of spirituality in which I’ve been blessed through them. I would hope for all of you to be plugged in at that level of your deepest meaning where you will find joy, purpose and direction for your life.”