This year’s winner of the Notre Dame Award for international humanitarian service is Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Saint’Egidio, a pacifist conflict-resolution and relief organization.
In 1968 Riccardi and classmates from his high school in Rome founded the Community of Sant’Egidio (“Saint Giles” in English), named for a Carmelite convent where the friends first gathered to pray, run a soup kitchen and tutor poor children.
The community, which has since grown to 40,000 members in 60 countries, continues to help poor people but also has received international attention for its attempts to mediate and resolve conflicts in Albania, Angola, Burundi, Guatemala, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mozambique and Somalia. Opposed to all forms of violence, legal or illegal, the group also advocates the abolishment of capital punishment and collected 2.7 million signatures on a petition to that effect and delivered it to the United Nations.
The Notre Dame Award, established in 1992, honors Catholics and non-Catholics “whose religious faith has quickened learning, whose learning has engendered deeds, and whose deeds give witness to God’s kingdom among us.” Past recipients include Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Mother Teresa, and Irish peace advocate John Hume.