Marquette to host the Vatican-inspired 2023 Sport at the Service of Humanity Conference

Marquette University announced that it will host on campus the Sport at the Service of Humanity (SSH) Conference in November 2023. The conference, developed in collaboration with the Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education (formerly the Pontifical Council for Culture), is designed to advance the meaningful work of the Sport at the Service of Humanity initiative that focuses on three pillars: Inspiration, Inclusion and Involvement.

Inspired by His Holiness Pope Francis, Sport at the Service of Humanity was launched in October 2016 during the First Global Conference on Faith and Sport at the Vatican. This gathering brought together global thought leaders and influencers from the world of faith, sports, business and other sectors to discuss how faith and sport could work together for the betterment of humanity. Since then, SSH has become the only global sport and multi-faith movement with a vision to see a world where people “live like they play” — combining the passion for sport with the values of faith to serve humanity.

The Sport at the Service of Humanity Conference at Marquette will be the fourth hosted in the United States, following previous similarly inspired events held at Villanova University (2017), Loyola Marymount University (2018) and Georgetown University (2019).

“The Marquette community is honored to host the 2023 Sport at the Service of Humanity Conference. It will be a wonderful opportunity to come together and celebrate the strengthened human connection provided by sport and sportsmanship,” Marquette President Michael R. Lovell said. “I want to thank Msgr. Melchor Sanchez from the Vatican, SSH Chair David Eades, and Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman for their partnership in bringing Sport at the Service of Humanity to Marquette. I also want to recognize members of our own interdisciplinary steering committee for bringing together a diverse group of faculty and staff to demonstrate Marquette’s Catholic, Jesuit mission to this international audience.”

“Sport at the Service of Humanity is thrilled to be working with Marquette University in bringing this event together,” said SSH Chair David Eades. “The goals of Inclusion, Involvement and Inspiration epitomise the potential for both sport and faith to reach out to people who are disadvantaged and excluded in so many different ways. Sport at the Service of Humanity aims to grow awareness of these goals through discussion, as well as action among all those who share that desire to make a difference — whatever their faith, whatever their sport.”

The Sport at the Service of Humanity Conference at Marquette in November 2023 will be an invitation-only gathering bringing together leaders in athletics, education, faith communities and youth sports to harness the power of sport to affect positive change in the world. The event will feature speakers, panels and breakout groups focused on building upon the existing global movement to use the collaborative strength of faith and sports for the common good.

In preparation for hosting the SSH Conference, representatives from Marquette recently participated in a related event, the International “Sport for All” Summit, held Sept. 29-30 in Vatican City. More than 250 participants from 40 countries participated in the summit, which was designed to promote the social and inclusive dimensions of sport in society.

“His Holiness Pope Francis believes that sport, especially when it authentically captures the Christian spirit, is a powerful tool to foster human, educational and spiritual growth,” noted Msgr. Melchor Sanchez from the Vatican Dicastery of Culture and Education. “By bringing this Sport at the Service of Humanity Conference to Marquette University, we reinforce the concept that sport and education have to walk together, and promote values-driven sport, in which you ‘give the best of yourself,’ with the hope that these discussions turn into concrete action and encourage all to #LiveLikeWePlay, and to build healthier, and more inclusive communities.”

The following individuals are part of the university’s Conference Steering Committee:

  • Kati Berg, associate professor of strategic communication and associate dean for academic affairs in the Diederich College of Communication
  • Sarah Bobert, executive associate athletic director and senior woman administrator in Marquette Athletics
  • Kate Braasch, chief of presidential affairs – Chair
  • Jean Dole, chief of staff in the Office of the Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer
  • Patty Harsch, coordinator of presidential affairs
  • Tammy Johnson, assistant director of university special events
  • Pat Kennelly, director of the Center for Peacemaking
  • Andrew Kim, associate professor of theology in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Center for the Advancement of Humanities
  • Matthew Mitten, professor in the Marquette Law School and executive director of the National Sports Law Institute
  • Veronica Mullen, assistant athletics director, women’s basketball, in Marquette Athletics
  • Jim Pribek, S.J., assistant vice president of the Office of Mission and Ministry
  • Jennifer Russell, senior director of marketing in the Office of University Relations
  • John Thiede, S.J., associate vice provost
  • Brittany Warren, director of development, athletics, in University Advancement