ROME — Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture announced on Sunday that it would bestow its annual prize to a hometown hero, the Women’s Care Center Foundation, which will be awarded this spring on the university’s campus.

The Women’s Care Center, which first opened its doors in 1984 in South Bend, Indiana — just a stone’s throw from Notre Dame’s campus — is now in 11 states around the country and boasts 28 pregnancy resource centers that provide services for more than 26,000 women each year.

“The Women’s Care Center sets the standard nationwide for compassionate and comprehensive care for mothers, babies and families,” said O. Carter Snead, the William P. and Hazel B. White Director of the Center for Ethics and Culture in a statement. “In its work and witness, the Women’s Care Center embodies the unconditional love and radical hospitality that anchors and sustains a culture of life. It is our privilege to honor them with the Evangelium Vitae Medal.”

The Evangelium Vitae award is the annual prize of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, which honors “individuals whose outstanding efforts have served to proclaim the Gospel of Life by steadfastly affirming and defending the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages.”

The award is named after Saint John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical by the same name, and is arguably the most prestigious pro-life prize in the United States.

The Women’s Care Center is known for its work in providing counseling and education to women facing unplanned pregnancies, as well as its programming for both mother and child wellness.

Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins praised their work in a statement on Sunday saying, “The Women’s Care Center gives women in crisis the support they need for themselves and their children before and after birth.”

“The WCC provides compassionate, non-judgmental, loving care to women most in need. They are a beacon of hope — here in South Bend and in every community they serve,” said Jenkins, who is also a member of their board.

In response to the award, Ann Manion, who serves as volunteer president of the WCC, said, “We are grateful to the University of Notre Dame for including us among the heroes of the pro-life movement who have received this award in the past. On behalf of our counselors, nurses, sonographers and the entire Women’s Care Center family, we are deeply grateful for this recognition, which will advance our life-saving mission to pregnant women in 11 states.”

Most recently, Harvard law professor and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon, was the recipient of the same honor.

Notre Dame’s Evangelium Vitae Medal is announced each year during Respect Life Sunday, and includes a $10,000 prize award.