Sydney’s link to Nobel Peace Prize nominee
It might be 10,000km from the Madagascan capital of Antananarivo, but one Sydney community has a special connection to its “saint of the slums”, Fr Pedro Opeka. Source: The Catholic Weekly.
The missionary priest has dedicated his life to building communities for the poorest families in one of the world’s poorest nations. A friend of Pope Francis who once studied theology under the then-future Pope in their native Argentina, Fr Opeka has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Janez Janša, the Prime Minister of Slovenia, announced earlier this month that he nominated Fr Opeka for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for his dedication to “helping people living in appalling living conditions”, CNA reported.
Sydney priest Jan Chrzczonowicz knows Fr Opeka well. “This is the fourth time Fr Pedro has been nominated, maybe fourth time will be lucky,” he chuckles.
Fr Chrzczonowicz is the chair of a local charitable organisation – Sydney French Roman Catholic Charities – which partners with Catholic Mission to support Fr Opeka’s work.
Since 2011, the charity has fundraised for Fr Opeka’s association, Akamosoa, which transformed a garbage dump into a town, building homes, schools and providing education for children.
Fr Opeka provides for about 25,000 people, the majority of them children under 15, including orphans and those abandoned by their parents, through the provision of employment, welfare, and educational opportunities.
Fr Chrzczonowicz said there is “something extraordinary” about the missionary priest. “He never begs for help, but with just a few words makes you understand deep in your heart that it is your obligation before God to share with the poor.”
Sydney’s link to Nobel Peace Prize nominee (By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly)