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.

Rockhurst University Students put Learning into Action through Trip to Ecuador

Students from Rockhurst University’s occupational and physical therapy programs recently traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador for the 10th time this August. The annual trip began as a University immersion trip to Ecuador and included a tour of Damien House. Damien House “serves as an inpatient home and outpatient clinic for those in the area with Hansen’s disease.” Hansen’s disease is more commonly known as leprosy. Although the disease is not common in most of the world, there are still areas where the disease is prevalent and those who suffer from it are forced to live their lives away from their family and friends. While touring Damien House, first year students were approached by Damien House founder Sister Annie Credidio to return and help during their next visit instead of just a tour.

Each summer the occupational therapy students and the physical therapy students travel to Ecuador to serve as volunteer staff for the Damien House’s on-site clinic. The trip has such success partly because it is an experience unlike anything that one could experience in the US. Students must break through language and cultural barriers in an area that is characterized by poverty. Sarah Berry, who is in the second year of her physical therapy doctoral program, spoke of being placed in this situation. “We are constantly learning new things, and this trip allows us to gain real-life experience with everything that we have learned. We may be put into situations in which we are uncomfortable or situations in which we can’t get past the language barrier, but these situations are the ones that are going to allow us to grow as a person and as physical therapist or occupational therapist.”

The students brought supplies, worked one-on-one with patients to help them cope with their disease, and helped “patients adapt in ways that allow them to perform everyday tasks like tying their shoes and using utensils to eat with greater ease.” By the end of the trip, the group had seen about 100 patients and had a new perspective of what it will be like as a physical therapist or an occupational therapist.

You can read more about Rockhurst’s service trip here.

Kudos to New Catholic Fair Trade Universities

Congratulations to Rockhurst University, University of Dayton, and St. John’s University for becoming Fair Trade Certified Universities during the past academic year!

Rockhurst University became the first Fair Trade University in Missouri in November. After years of hard work by the Rockhurst University Fair Trade Initiative raising awareness on campus, students are thrilled to be the first in the state. Gerald Moench, the University’s chief financial officer, commented that “it’s a reminder to our University community to always strive to move forward with ethics and our Jesuit commitment to social justice in mind.”

University of Dayton celebrated their designation as a Fair Trade University with a reception at the campus bookstore and a video documenting the event.

St. John’s University became a Fair Trade University in March. Executive vice president for Mission, Reverend Bernard M. Tracey, C.M., connects this resolution with University identity, saying “We are called as a Vincentian institution not only to respond to the needs of those marginalized in society, but to study, research and provide solutions to the root causes of poverty.”

To learn more on how your institution can become Fair Trade Certified, visit the Fair Trade Campaigns website.  To learn more about Fair Trade at ACCU institutions, visit our new webpage at

Rockhurst University Supports Child Mobility

Rockhurst University students have formed a chapter of GoBabyGo!, a non-profit focused on child mobility. Students transform motorized toy cars into mobility vehicles for children, tailoring to their individual needs whether from a visual impairment, cognitive disabilities, or a condition that limits a child’s mobility, like spina bifida.

Child mobility is linked with cognitive development. As children are able to move freely, they are more able to develop decision-making skills and experience new things.  These cars are significantly less expensive than many traditional mobility aides.

Rockhurst’s chapter of GoBabyGo! involves students who study physical therapy and engineering. In March 2015, they delivered their first vehicles to the Children Center for the Visually Impaired which was covered by local media, spurring more support for the project.

Cole Galloway, Ph.D., PT, founder of GoBabyGo, visited the Rockhurst chapter last fall, noting that the work is connected to the Jesuit values of social justice: “When you unpack this project, you see both sides–the science and the social justice. They go hand-in-hand. I think social justice is about listening to communities and getting behind them and fighting with them.”

To learn more about GoBabyGo! on Rockhurst’s campus, read the full article.

Courageous Voices: Empowering Individuals through Work

Recognizing the sizable population of youth in the Dayton, Ohio area who are unemployed or underemployed, or transitioning out of foster care or the juvenile justice system, the University of Dayton (UD) is working to help them take charge of their future. Through its Youth Economic Self-Sufficiency program, UD students provide help with tutoring and GED completion, guidance on college enrollment, job skills, and personal finance; and self-care to support health and wellness.

At Rockhurst University, the Prosperity Center for Financial Opportunity works with low- to moderate-income families in the Kansas City area, with the goal of improving their long-term financial situation. The center provides free employment services and financial counseling through one-on-one sessions and group workshops, encouraging participants to change behaviors and build a stable financial future.  To learn more, visit the Center on Facebook or read the article on the Center by the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Key.

Over the next few weeks, we will continue to release short stories about the courageous voices of our member colleges and universities.  Stay tuned to hear about how students, faculty, and staff are responding to Pope Francis’s call to social justice and a culture of encounter.  If you are still curious about how Catholic colleges and universities are promoting social justice on campus, read the original blog post on the Courageous Voices series, or check out ACCU’s inventory of promising practices, which includes many examples of our members engaging with Catholic Social Teaching.

Additional Lenten Resources from Jesuit Colleges

Are you looking for additional resources to help you grow in your faith during the season of Lent?  The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) has compiled a long list of Lenten resources, outlining what Jesuit colleges and universities are offering to their campus communities during this liturgical season. Additionally, the page features a number of online resources for prayer and meditation.

Rockhurst University and St. Joseph’s University’s programming includes themes related to peace and justice. Rockhurst created a video that highlights what service means to the university community, and how that community strives to find God in all things. St. Joseph’s is hosting a series called #LentenLunches, which includes a simple meal, conversation, and faith sharing.

To read more about these initiatives and for other Lenten news, including online resources for prayer and meditation, visit AJCU’s website.

Peace and Justice in ACCU’s Winter Newsletter

ACCU just released Update, its Winter 2014 newsletter! You can read it in its entirety here, but be sure to pay special attention to the sections devoted to peace and justice. These highlights include:

  • Labor: Cost of a Commodity or Commitment to a Covenant? (special feature on CST, mission, and human resources)
  • Walsh Lends Support to Solving Hunger
  • Reaching Refugees through Online Education
  • Rockhurst Symposium Examines the Power of the Francis Papacy
  • Holy Names University Goes Solar
  • Institutions Commemorate Anniversary of Jesuit Martyrs in El Salvador

To subscribe to Update, please email Paula Moore.