Kevin Dugan and Patrick McCormick
Last fall a delegation representing the Sudan Conference of Catholic Bishops visited the University of Notre Dame to reach out to the Catholic community in the United States. They came to seek help in assuring a peaceful outcome for the scheduled January referendum on the independence of South Sudan. They also brought their appeal to high-level U.S. officials in Washington.
Following the bishops’ visit to campus, the Notre Dame student senate unanimously agreed to sponsor a community-wide Stand with Sudan Rally that included a “Playing for Peace” basketball tournament hosted by the men’s lacrosse and basketball teams. Notre Dame’s president emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., gave the keynote address at the rally, calling for international engagement to avoid further violence and armed conflict. Here’s a video of highlights from the event and a story that appeared on the front page of the Notre Dame student newspaper, The Observer.
WHY WE CARE
Some have asked, “Why Sudan?” Why is the Notre Dame student government concerned? Why would the men’s lacrosse and basketball teams get involved in a country thousands of miles away?
We care because we were asked to care by the religious leaders of Sudan. We care because members of the Notre Dame community are from Sudan, and some are working there to prevent violence. We care because this is not a hypothetical issue but a pressing moral concern for achieving justice and peace.
The promise of ‘never again’ too often rings hollow. We have a chance now to deliver on that promise and stop a genocide before it starts.
In recent years the world’s response to threats of genocide has been shameful. The promise of “never again” too often rings hollow. We have a chance now to deliver on that promise, to defuse a ticking time bomb and stop a genocide before it starts. We are determined to try.
That’s why we organized the Playing for Peace event. We wanted to raise awareness and harness the power of Notre Dame athletics for the worthy cause of achieving social justice. We are motivated by the belief that each of us is capable of fighting for justice and peace by offering our own unique gifts.
THE WORK CONTINUES
The struggle for peace in South Sudan is not over. The people of the country voted overwhelmingly for independence in the January referendum, but violence continues. Recent attacks have left hundreds of Sudanese dead and tens of thousands displaced from their homes. Political instability and military escalation in critical border areas between South Sudan and the North have raised cause for alarm.
To focus attention on these concerns, the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team and our Stand with Sudan partners hosted a second “Playing for Peace” event in April. We hosted the Georgetown University men’s lacrosse team in a match broadcast on ESPN. We also organized a 7-on-7 inter-hall lacrosse tournament. These efforts were intended to call continuing attention to ongoing developments in Sudan.
In his speech at our first event, Fr. Hesburgh offered a vision of the University as “both a lighthouse and a crossroads.” When the delegation of Sudanese Bishops came to appeal for help, we served as a crossroads. Today, as we pursue advocacy and awareness building for peace, we serve as a lighthouse. Our goal is to turn the light of conscience on the birth of a new nation in Africa, to help assure that it can emerge in justice without violence free from the threat of genocide. Never again is now.
Kevin Dugan is director of operations for Notre Dame’s men’s lacrosse team. Patrick McCormick is president of the Notre Dame student body.