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

Nov. 3, 2022

Representatives meeting at The Vatican

From L-R: Msgr. Melchor Sanchez from the Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education; SSH Chair David Eades; Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman; Kate Braasch, chief of presidential affairs at Marquette; Sarah Bobert, executive associate athletic director for Marquette Athletics; Matthew Mitten, executive director of the National Sports Law Institute; and Philip Leopold of SportsWorks/SSH

MILWAUKEE — 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.”

About Marquette University

Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university located near the heart of downtown Milwaukee that offers a comprehensive range of majors in 11 nationally and internationally recognized colleges and schools. Through the formation of hearts and minds, Marquette prepares our 11,100 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional students to lead, excel and serve as agents of positive change. And, we deliver results. Ranked in the top 20% of national universities, Marquette is recognized for its undergraduate teaching, innovation and career preparation as the sixth-best university in the country for job placement. Our focus on student success and immersive, personalized learning experiences encourages students to think critically and engage with the world around them. When students graduate with a Marquette degree, they are truly prepared and called to Be The Difference.

About the BIG EAST Conference

The BIG EAST Conference is an association of 11 nationally prominent colleges and universities that foster healthy athletic competition, community service and the pursuit of excellence in academic environments.  The BIG EAST-sponsored athletic programs of our institutions provide national-caliber participation opportunities for more than 3,800 student-athletes on over 200 men’s and women’s teams in 22 sports.  Established in 1979 and headquartered in New York City, the BIG EAST’s members are located in eight of the country’s top 36 largest media markets and include Butler University, University of Connecticut, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University.  For more information, visit

About Sport at the Service of Humanity (SSH)

Sport for Humanity is the only global faith and sport movement that combines the passion for sport with the values of faith to serve humanity. “Live Like You Play” embodies the movement’s ethos - rooted in Pope Francis’ inspirational words — “Challenge yourself in the game of life, as you do in the game of sport”. Sport for Humanity’s beliefs and aspirations are founded on Three Pillars — Inspiration, Inclusion and Involvement and Six Principles — Compassion, Love, Respect, Enlightenment, Balance and Joy.

For more information, please visit: and/or follow us on social media: @sportforhumanity (Facebook); @sport4humanity (Twitter) and sportforhumanityx (Instagram). For inquiries, contact Philip Leopold at

About Kevin Conway

Kevin Conway

Kevin is the associate director for university communication in the Office of University Relations. Contact Kevin at (414) 288-4745 or