Lourdes University Hosts “Annual Week of Service”

Every year Lourdes University hosts their “Annual Week of Service.” During this week more than 270 students, faculty, staff, administration and alumni participate in various community service activities that benefit the local community. In 2017, Lourdes volunteers completed 685 hours of community service at 15 different non-profit agencies around the area. The 2017 Week of Service was held the same week as the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities National Service Initiative, which is held in recognition of St. Francis.

Sr. Barbara Vano, OSF, Director of Campus Ministry and Service Learning said that, “during the Week of Service, we enjoyed spending time with some of our long-standing community partners, serving and hopefully brining attention to the needs of the homeless and marginalized., the populations that Sr. Francis so frequently challenged us to remember.”

To read more about Lourdes Week of Service, visit Lourdes University news.

Lenten Resources for Peace and Justice

As Ash Wednesday approaches, consider using some of these resources related to peace and justice for reflection during the season of Lent.


Iona College Hosts their Annual Peacemaking Week

Iona College recently concluded their annual Peacemaking Week. The 2017 Peacemaking Week centers on the theme “Self + Other + Earth = A formula for Our Future.” The Week of the Peacemaker begins with “Hope and Healing in the Anthropocene.” The event featured a day of contemplative inquiry with a “host of healers, teachers and spiritual practitioners who look to guide those in attendance into informative and transformative dialogue on the challenges of being well and offering wellness-of body, mind, and spirit-to an ecologically, socially and spiritually suffering planet.”

The keynote presentation was given by Karenna Gore, the director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Gore’s keynote will focus on her experience working in the legal center of Sanctuary for Families, which serves victims of domestic violence and trafficking and as director of community affairs for the Association to Benefit Children (ABC), which provides early childhood education and other services for families living in poverty in New York City.

To read more about Iona College Peacemaking Week, click here.


‘A Light to the Nations’: Catholic Relief Services Partners with Catholic Colleges and Universities

As we enter the Advent season, we are reminded of our continual call to direct our hearts and minds to the coming of Jesus Christ. As we do so, we reflect on his eternal sacrifice and his life on earth. Christ came to us a “light to the nations” and was a true example of how to give yourself to those in need. As Catholics we are called to do the same, for “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 21:1-2).

For Catholic colleges and universities, partnering with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) offers the opportunity to lead by example and follow Christ’s example to be a light in the world. CRS uses the message of Jesus to defend the dignity of all human life through charity, justice, and living out Catholic Social Teaching. CRS offers these university and college partnerships as a way of “joining in solidarity with the global poor through education, prayer, and action.” Campuses have the opportunity to partner with CRS in three ways: through CRS Student Ambassadors, CRS faculty learning commons, and as a CRS Global Campus.

Villanova University is using their partnership with CRS through the Student Ambassadors program to advance its mission of awareness and solidarity for those in need. According to CRS, student ambassadors “are trained by CRS to mobilize their peers and bring to life the mission of solidarity, [which then] allows for chapters to connect and build across the nation.” At Villanova, student ambassadors are bringing awareness to their peers of modern-day slavery. In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, student ambassadors set up a table in a popular campus building in order to engage as many students as possible. Ambassadors gave students blue duct-taped ribbons to wear throughout the week in order to spark questions and discussion among peers.

The table also provided pamphlets with information on quick ways to help human trafficking victims. These tips ranged from how to identify possible victims to how to become a conscientious and informed consumer. Human Trafficking Awareness Day concluded with a screening of the documentary “Indifference is Not an Option.” According to CRS, the film “chronicles the lives of three escaped slaves spanning three countries and calls people to fight and stop hiding behind the excuse of ignorance.” The screening ended with the audience signing 80 advocacy letters. “These letters urged senators and representatives to pass the Supply Chain Transparency Act, which would help combat forced labor by forcing companies to reveal steps in their supply chain,” noted CRS.

The Catholic University of America partnered with Catholic Relief Services to host CRS Iraq director Hani El Mahdi. From left to right: Hani El Mahdi; CRS Student Ambassador Mary Lastowka; CUA associate professor Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love; and CRS University Outreach representative Mary Beth Iduh.

Professors at The Catholic University of America are using resources provided by CRS Faculty Learning Commons to put a human face on issues learned in the classroom. CRS explains how faculty learning commons “provides opportunities for faculty members and other academic leaders to enrich student learning experiences by tapping into CRS’s expertise in global development and humanitarian response through the world.”

Professor Maryann Cusimano Love leverages CUA’s partnership with CRS in her politics courses by using the CRS faculty learning commons materials as required readings that deal with issues such as war and peace, refugees, global poverty, climate change, human trafficking, fair trade, and moral responsibilities to global challenges. Students then have a chance to answer written questions, she explains, and use the materials as an “example of how a general topic discussed in class manifests in a specific circumstance.” She also invites students to use CRS materials for projects and gives them the “opportunity to partner with CRS to bring in a speaker to campus or engage with CRS programming.” Love recalled how one student group chose to look at the issues faced by Iraqi refugees and invited Hani El Mahdi, director of CRS Iraq, to speak at CUA.

Dante Orlandini, senior politics major at CUA, recalls that “through the implementation of studies, documentation, and techniques, Dr. Love effectively incorporated Catholic Relief Services’ mission into our Global Issues course at Catholic, which provided me with valuable lessons.” Dr. Love explains that by partnering with CRS, “students are taken out of their comfort zone and grapple with the real world consequences of global trends, and reflect on whether and how they are contributing to global problems or to global solutions.”

Love notes that “CUA, with its Washington, DC, location, is blessed to live and work at the intersection of Church and state. CRS works on this same intersection, bringing our values of faith to the global problems of the world.”

CRS Marquette
As a Catholic Relief Services Global Campus, Marquette University students participate in the Student Ambassador Program in order “to increase student awareness of global poverty and how CRS works to address these issues.”

The final way that campuses partner with CRS is by becoming a global campus. Through this institutional partnership, CRS engages with the campus through all three core constituencies: students, faculty, and administration, with the support of campus ministry and social justice staff. As a global campus, the college or university participates in both the Student Ambassador Program and the Faculty Learning Commons Program and establishes an interdisciplinary CRS advisory group. Sherri Walker, the program coordinator at Marquette’s Center for Peacemaking, explains that “as a global campus, Marquette University contributes to and also learns from CRS’s work in peace building” by using CRS’s work and examples as a way to “help form men and women who can be instruments of peace building and champions of a more equitable world.”

Because Marquette is a CRS Global Campus, its faculty have the opportunity to engage with CRS by using “collaborative methods of teaching, learning, and research that connect Marquette classrooms with CRS’s world-class teaching resources and research that addresses world problems,” Walker adds. For instance, Marquette faculty and administrators participated in the Ghana Faculty Enrichment Program. Walker notes that this program “served as a pilot project aimed at creating a model for partnering with the CRS country program in Ghana, as well as local universities. This partnership was expected to lead to joint research programs and closer collaboration between the in-country program staff, local university professors, and U.S. professors.” During this immersion experience, participants “studied the integral human development framework that CRS uses to design its programming, and the country-specific academic research that leads to development programming decisions.”

Walker explains that as a Catholic institution, Marquette recognizes that “God’s love is not restricted to a select few, but is extended to all.” From this perspective, “students from all faith traditions understands CRS’s engagement with populations where the majority are not Catholic.”

The month of December is the perfect time to learn about how Catholic colleges and universities are seeking to empower others to fight for peace and justice throughout the nation and world. By partnering with CRS in a variety of ways, institutions are given the opportunity to enrich the classroom experience and foster a community willing and ready to serve


St. Norbert College Receives Grant to Fund Olive Branch Initiative

The Cassandra Voss Center (CVC) at St. Norbert College recently received a $5,000 grant from Campus Compact’s Fund for Positive Engagement for the 2017-2018 academic year. The grant is meant to help the CVC in “piloting a new initiative called the Olive Branch Initiative, aiming to bring the community together to share stories from, and engage with, different perspectives.”

St. Norbert was selected from a pool of more than 300 grant applicants, making St. Norbert’s selection even more honorable. Applicants were assessed by the following criteria: “the project must engage with divergent or unfamiliar perspectives to foster empathy and understanding; the project must develop positive relationships across differences to lift up our common humanity; and the project must engage in collaborative problem-solving to strengthen social times and civic vitality.” Grant submissions we assessed by how well a project would address the challenge named by the institution and lead to positive change. Congrats to St. Norbert College!

To read more about St. Norbert’s recent grant, click here.


One Million Acts of Kindness visits Saint Vincent College

St. Vincent College welcomed Bob Votruba, founder of One Million Acts of Kindness. According to Votruba, One Million Acts of Kindness is a goal for each person to perform one million acts of kindness in their lifetime. It is meant to be a mindset that is lived out every day of one’s life. Votruba had the desire to create a safer, more inclusive environment and did this in a unique way. He bought a bus and recruited friends and family to help him paint it. From there, he began his journey across the nation visiting different “college campuses across the country hoping to convince as many people as possible about this much needed movement for the world.” Votruba also works with educators to create a curriculum for school children K – 12 in order to help “create programs for teaching kindness in the classroom with emphasis on incorporating into everyday life.”

Vortuba brought his “Kindness Bus” to the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College on October 6. Fred Rogers had a major influence on Votruba’s message so he met with many of the students who are Fred Rogers students to spread his message of kindness for all.

To read more, visit Saint Vincent College news.