The men’s basketball matchup of Villanova University against Seton Hall University scheduled for tonight has another angle to it. The Catholic universities partnered with Catholic Relief Services in “Playing for Peace,” giving the game the added impetus of drawing attention to violence, hunger, displacement and human suffering in Sudan. (Update: Villanova beat Seton Hall 84-76.)
As part of this initiative, CRS is providing the coaching staff of both teams with special ribbons to wear during the game. The universities also designed shooting shirts for players to wear during pre-game warm-ups and halftime. Fact sheets about conditions in Sudan are to be distributed to fans as they arrived and Augustinian Father Peter Donohue, president of Villanova, plans to speak about the situation in a halftime address.
Malual Deng-Duot, a Sudanese “lost boy” who graduated from Villanova last year, was planning to attend the game along with other “lost boys” from Philadelphia. The men were driven from their tribal villages and separated from their parents during the height of their country’s civil war.
In anticipation of the 2011 Sudanese referendum vote, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 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.
Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of U.S. operations at CRS, said the relief organization saw the shared Catholic mission of these Catholic universities “as an opportunity to use the power of their voice and their resources to advocate for and give continued support to peace in Sudan.”