Georgian Court University Receives Nonprofit Partner of the Year

Congratulations to Georgian Court University on receiving Nonprofit Partner of the Year by the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce! Georgian Court was honored at the end of 2017 by the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce at their 53rd Annual Awards Reception. GCU was honored for promoting its “Mercy core values – respect, compassion, integrity, justice, and service – in its work with local business, nonprofit organizations, and partnership organizations.”

GCU President Joseph R. Marbach credited the GCU Office of Career Services, Corporate Engagement, and Continuing Education with “playing a strong role in building those relationships – especially when it means exploring internship and employment opportunities for GCU students.” Congratulations to Georgian Court University!

To read more about Georgian Court’s award, visit GCU news.


Saint Anselm Students Spend their Break Serving

A total of 138 Saint Anselm College students gave their time and energy by serving with the Service and Solidarity Missions during their winter break. From January 6-13 groups of about twenty students traveled to ten different U.S. sites, ranging from Appalachia to Washington, DC. The Service and Solidarity Missions offers alternative winter and spring break trips that include service in a variety of areas, including home repair and construction, food service, social justice in the city, refugee resettlement, and many more.

Saint Anselm students continue to participate in these alternative breaks because it gives them the opportunity to “plunge into challenging service circumstances” and transform the lives of everyone participating. Lauren Case ’19 speaks of her time serving with Service and Solidarity Missions by saying, “I get to see the light of those we get to serve; the happiness and appreciation that they show towards us is unreal.” These trips provide students with experiences that are useful throughout their life whether in service, prayer, relationships, or in the classroom.

To read more about Saint Anselm’s Service and Solidarity Missions, please visit Saint Anselm news.

Rockhurst University Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

2018 marks fifty years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Catholic colleges and universities across the nation came together on Monday, January 15th to honor the life and legacy of one of the greatest leaders of contemporary society. One of these schools includes Rockhurst University. Rockhurst students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered for an interfaith prayer service that “was structured to get individuals listening instead of speaking.”

The event featured prayers from different faith traditions, songs from the St. Monica Church Choir, and recordings of King’s own voice. The ceremony proved “the power that mutual understanding can have in building unity across race, religion, and other boundaries.” Following the service, participants left to participate in various afternoon service projects around the community. Projects ranged from cleaning local parks to brining attention to the toll gun violence has taken on families in the Kansas City area.

To hear more about Rockhurt’s event, visit Rockhurst news.

Spalding University Launches Latest Greening Initiative

SpaldingSpalding University has recently launched a major component of its greening initiative with the dedication ceremony of 2.2-acre Trager Park, “a grassy recreational space that has been repurposed from an unused pad of asphalt.” Trager Park was created to offer students and community members a space for sports and recreation on Spalding’s campus.

The park will also positively impact the local community by diminishing the urban heat island effect in the area. According to the Louisville Metro Office of Sustainability, Trager Park will contribute to reducing surface temperatures and the amount of water that enters the storm water system. In addition 100 trees will be planted and will “increase the tree canopy of a neighborhood that currently only has a 9 percent canopy, which is below the 15 percent recommended for central business districts by American Forests.” Trager Park is the most recent effort by Spalding to contribute to their greening initiative.

To read more about Spalding’s greening initiative, visit Spalding news.

Lent 2018 Message from Pope Francis

“By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.”

The 2018 Lenten season has officially begun. Spend some time reading the message of Pope Francis on Lent 2018 in order to focus your heart and mind on what this liturgical season means for each one of us.
His message can be found on the Vatican website.

Embodying the Season of Lent: Students Take Action and Advocacy into Their Own Hands

January 15 presents the opportunity to reflect on the service and life of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King was a man grounded in faith, service, and love. A civil rights activist rooted in his Christian beliefs, Dr. King used the tactics of nonviolence and civil disobedience to fight against racial inequality and injustice, and advocate for an entire people. Reflecting on the life of Dr. King is the perfect way to enter into the liturgical season of Lent, a season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent offers the opportunity to give ourselves in service, which can be done by tending to the physical, mental, or spiritual needs of others. Across the country, students from Catholic colleges and universities are following in the footsteps of Dr. King — and responding to the Lenten call of almsgiving — by creating programs that benefit the most vulnerable of society.

Students at Seton Hill University are taking action and promoting fair trade through their online business, Gray Hemlock. According to co-founder Fitzgerald “Fitz” Robertson, Gray Hemlock is “the online marketplace for the most affordable women’s fair trade jewelry in all the world.” Robertson created Gray Hemlock in December 2016 with fellow student Halie Torris as a way to sell affordable jewelry. In January 2017, Robertson and Torris watched “The True Cost,” a documentary that “highlights some of the negative working conditions in which people in the manufacturing system work,” according to the students. After watching this film, they realized that Gray Hemlock could have contributed in a small way to the system shown in the film. As a result, the two students reinvented their business as an effort that supports humanity. They decided they would partner only with organizations that could guarantee that their products were made “with fair wages, proper working conditions, and no child labor,” according to Robertson. It is also essential that artisan groups that partner with Gray Hemlock benefit from the profits. This is done by showing images to consumers that allow them to recognize that there are real people making all of the jewelry, people with families and struggles. There are also opportunities for artisans to take courses on topics such as financial literacy and healthful eating.

Seton Hill has been a campus that has given Robertson and Torris the opportunity to flourish as business partners. The two students credit their professors for helping them “inside and outside of the classroom” by providing coursework relevant to their interests in fair trade and by providing advice and resources. Gray Hemlock has also been a great platform to inform others about the importance of fair trade. Torris notes that “most people don’t know [what fair trade is] unless it’s explained on a basic level,” which is why the two students have started a conversation about fair trade through their business, which is rooted in service, love, and advocacy.

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Students from St. Edward’s University are also taking the act of serving others into their own hands by advocating for those in vulnerable situations. Students Carlos Alpuche, Ricardo Apanco-Sarabia, Gloria Perez, and Joseph Ramirez are co-founders of YOUnite, a nonprofit that helps immigrant students understand their rights. These four students had the idea to create YOUnite when they attended Austin’s LevelUp Institute and were instructed to create a start-up to help solve a social problem. YOUnite was originally founded to be a “web-based toolbox for immigrants looking to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)” protection. The students sought to make the application process “approachable, accessible, easy, and become the ‘TurboTax’ of DACA,” according to Ramirez.

The vision of YOUnite took a turn with the election of Donald Trump and the changing of national policy regarding DACA. According to the founders of YOUnite, they knew they needed to show students at St. Edward’s that “no matter what our political stance, we will stand together to find solutions.” In the months that followed, the students channeled their energy into a campus group that would meet the immediate needs of immigrants. They created “Monarchs on the Hilltop” in order to assist undocumented families on and off campus through a variety of services and resources. Ramirez notes that “Monarchs on the Hilltop” will “talk to leaders from the Diocese of Austin and Catholic Charities Austin to inform them of [Monarchs’] efforts regarding food access for students and how they hope the two groups could hopefully support them.” St. Edward’s has been an ideal campus for these students to serve the immigrant community because of its mission of social justice and advocacy.

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St. Catherine’s and St. Thomas joint School of Social Work professor Katharine Hill incorporates voting registration and engagement into her classes to empower clients to have a voice.” Photo by Mark Brown.

Professors at of St. Thomas are empowering students to advocate in the classroom and combine study and service. Katharine Hill, associate professor at St. Katherine’s and St. Thomas joint school of social work, has begun to “ as noted by St. Catherine’s and St.Thomas news article. Hill explains, “As social workers, we talk about needing to advocate for social policies that will help our clients. But we never talk about the fact that the people who make these decisions are elected officials, and that social workers should be a part of that.” By working directly with both policymakers and those experiencing homelessness, students are able to visualize their goal of enacting social change. They are given tools in the classroom that help analyze which populations are less likely to vote and why, and also the benefits that come from voting. Hill adds, “A lot of students had not thought about voting. But by the end of the semester, they felt a sense of power that comes with voting and understood how voting also recognizes their clients’ humanity.”

The second time Hill incorporated this project into her classroom was during the 2016 presidential election. Students visited the Salvation Army and The Link, a Minnesota nonprofit that supports young homeless people and families. “Students helped register individuals there to vote,” Hill explains, “and passed out information about local and state ballot items and how to get to polling places on Election Day.” Hill notes the sense of empowerment that students felt by telling people their voice matters. In the end, students registered 400 individuals to vote and came away empowered by the visible change they were making. Hill says the course “fits with the larger Catholic framework to value every person and community for the common good.” In the future Hill hopes to act as a resource and contact for other colleges and universities that seek to incorporate voting and voter engagement into their curricula.

It is empowering to reflect on the variety of ways that Catholic colleges and universities are taking activism and advocacy in their own hands. Students and faculty are seeing a need and are taking action to alleviate this need. These campuses are also continuing the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. in unique ways that are centered on his mission of peace and equality. Entering into the season of Lent offers us the perfect opportunity to reflect on how we are serving the least of our neighbors and serving God to our fullest extent possible.

Saint Vincent College Hosts ‘Wrap for Kids’ during Christmas Season

Saint Vincent College Education Department has concluded a community service effort called, “SVC Wraps for Kids.” This was a collaboration with the Westmoreland County Children’s bureau and Children First Fund. During this effort the “SVC Education Department shopped for Christmas presents that went to children in need across Westmoreland County.” Students also raised funds to cover the cost of wrapping paper and materials. In past years, SVC Wraps for Kids has served more than 700 children and has been continually grow year after year.

To read more about this event, visit Saint Vincent College news.