As Catholic Theological Union in Chicago prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary next month, supporters gathered for a special evening: to honor an influential peacemaker — and Viatorians were there.

Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, president of CTU, with Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ.

The annual Blessed are the Peacemakers dinner took place April 24 at the Hilton Chicago. There, Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ, was presented with the Blessed are the Peacemakers Award, for her advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty. Every year, an individual is selected who reflects its values, particularly in the areas of reconciliation, justice and peacemaking.

Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ, Fr. Jack Wall and Fr. Kurt Hartrich, OFM, chair of the board of CTU trustees.

Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, president of CTU, presented Sr. Prejean with her award.

“She is a tireless supporter of the abolition of the death penalty and of the dignity of all human beings,” Fr. Francis said.

Even actress, Susan Sarandon — who played Sr. Helen in the film “Dead Man Walking” — chimed in to offer congratulations. She appeared in a surprise video that thanked Sr. Helen for her courage in speaking out.

The evening also honored Fr. Jack Wall, who was given CTU’s Diakonia Award, presented annually to an outstanding local leader who has demonstrated exemplary service to the Church. Fr. Wall led Old St. Patrick Church in Chicago for 24 years before being named as president of Catholic Extension.

“Fr. Wall is a missionary disciple, reaching out to the poorest areas of the United States through the Catholic Extension,” Fr. Francis said.

A table of Viatorians found the evening powerful and affirming, including: Fr. Corey Brost, Br. Michael Gosch, Fr. Dan Hall, Fr. Tom Long, Fr. Dan Lydon, Fr. Moses Mesh and Fr. Jason Nesbit. They were joined by Pre-Associate Brian Hansen, Marianne Dilsner, case manager at Viator House of Hospitality and Luke Sullivan of Arise Chicago.