“Holy Ballers” Serve Worcester Youth

College of the Holy Cross is implementing an innovative social justice project called “Holy Ballers.” The “ballers-model” is a project focused on “peer-to-peer mentorship of residents within the juvenile detention system. The goals of the program include reducing the recidivism rate and showing residents that they are valuable to society and their future is not determined by their past mistakes.” The “ballers-model” began at John Carroll University, and sophomore political science major Riley Benner brought this model to Holy Cross.

Benner introduced the model to his high school and knew that when he arrived at college he wanted to start a chapter there as well. When Benner approached Marty Kelly, associate chaplain and adviser to Student Programs for Urban Development, he was nothing short of excited. After the program was launched, Holy Cross students took great interest and Benner recruited 15 volunteers through a rigorous application process.

Three days a week, six Holy Cross students visit the juvenile detention center in Worcester to play basketball with residents. They then share a meal together and simply talk. Benner explains, “We’re not there to serve the boys; we’re not there to teach them what it means to be a good citizen, or to lecture them on the classifications of a Massachusetts felony. We’re there simply to be together, to be one. We don’t hold a bar up and ask any of them to measure up; we simply show up. And we tell them the truth. The truth that they are exactly what God had in mind when God made them. And we watch as they become that truth.”

To read more about Holy Ballers, visit Holy Cross news.

Peace and Justice in ACCU’s Spring Newsletter

ACCU recently released the spring edition of Update, our quarterly newsletter. Read Update in full here. Peace and Justice highlights include:

University of Mary Students Lead March for Life: In January, over 600 students, faculty, and administrators from the University of Mary led the 2017 National March for Life Rally. After attracting national media attention last year when they were snowbound for 24 hours on the Pennsylvania turnpike when returning from the 2016 March for Life, they were selected to lead the March.

Chestnut Hill College Inspires Students to Pursue College Dreams: President of Chestnut Hill College, Sister Carol Jean Vale, SSJ is working to inspire local high school students in their pursuit of education and help them realize that the dream of a college education can become a reality. Through events such as “King Community Day” where the college invited students to campus for a basketball game and to meet with financial aid and admissions representatives, Chestnut Hill College is communicating the message that college education is not out of the reach of local students. This initiative is part of a wider campaign in northwest Philadelphia, involving the state senator and leaders in local schools, to inspire students to pursue a college education and build community connections.

Carlow University Works to Reduce Gun Violence: Carlow University launched its Social Justice Institutes with a focus on gun violence as the inaugural “Educating for Justice” issue, which will remain the focus through 2020. Social Justice Institutes’ goal is to promote advocacy and create systemic change through faculty research and community engagement.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Students Assist in Appalachia: Students and staff from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College spent a week in rural West Virginia this past fall on an Alternative Fall Break. They joined students from other colleges at Nazareth Farm, a Catholic community that provides service-retreat experiences. The group served the local community by helping homeowners with maintenance and construction.

Saint Martin’s Screens Film Showing Immigration Through a Child’s Eyes: The Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series at Saint Martin’s University recently featured a documentary film screening of Sad Happiness: Cinthya’s Cross Border Journey.” The film tells the story of 11-year-old Cinthya, a child who travels to her parents’ native community in Mexico for the first time where she visited her extended family, many of whom she has never met. The film’s producer, photographer and editor, Sonia De La Cruz is an assistant professor of communication studies at Saint Martin’s. The story illuminates the struggles and desires of families divided between the United States and other countries where children are mobile citizens but their parents cannot leave.   

Catholic Institutions Join Coalition to Improve College Access: Manhattan College, College of the Holy Cross, and St. Michael’s College have joined the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, a group of more than 90 public and private colleges and universities formed to improve the college application process for all students, provide substantial support to lower-resourced and underrepresented students, offer responsible financial aid support, and demonstrate a commitment to student graduation.

To subscribe to Update, please email Paula Moore.



Inclusion on Campus: Increase Faculty and Staff Diversity and Encourage their Commitment to Inclusion

Diversity among faculty and staff can create a more inclusive and robust learning environment for everyone. At the College of the Holy Cross, the Diversity Leadership Team is charged with developing a comprehensive approach to diverse hiring, including building networks to attract a diverse faculty. The team also works on developing faculty’s inclusion skills in teaching, scholarship, and community engagement. Reflecting on their Catholic identity, the team is focused on the relationship between diversity, education, religion, and social justice transformation. They do this in a variety of ways including: encouraging the practice of authentic, daily interaction between people of diverse backgrounds and acting as a leader and resource for the community in developing a Campus-wide diversity plan.

At Xavier University (Ohio), Mission Animators — a group of faculty and staff who work to integrate Jesuit identity into everyday campus life — is offering mini-grants this year to faculty and staff who create programming on the theme of immigration. Events funded by these Mission Animators include a film screening of Documented, a lecture series on “Serving the Mental Health Needs of a Refugee Population”, and a photo exhibition on the lives of immigrants in Cincinnati entitled, “Americans? Foreigners? Citizens!”

Over the next few weeks, we will release short examples of  diversity at Catholic institutions of Higher Education as part of a series called “Inclusion on Campus”.  Stay tuned to hear how Catholic institutions are promoting diversity as an expression of God’s grandeur!

Catholics & Cultures

Have you visited Catholics & Cultures?  The website showcases a project from the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, SJ Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture at the College of the Holy Cross, which features videos, research articles, interviews, graphics and more explaining the different ways that Catholics around the world practice their faith in their daily lives.  The website also features demographic data for various countries to help explain the social and economic context in these areas.

A special page on the website highlights resources for educators.  The authors of the website plan to showcase examples of how the website can be used in the classroom.  An additional aspect of the initiative of particular interest to faculty includes the launch of an academic journal, the Journal of Global Catholicism, in fall 2015.

The website continues to be updated with new research.  Visit the Catholics & Cultures website to learn more about how Catholicism is practiced in Brazil, India, Ethiopia, Germany, and other countries.