80 Gonzaga University students traveled to places across the country, as they do every spring, to serve others at nonprofit organizations through Gonzaga’s “Mission: Possible” program. “Mission: Possible” is a “program started in the late 1990s and sponsored by the University’s Center for Community Engagement, focused on student-learning and community impact.” Most college students spend their break relaxing from school work in warmer climates, but these 80 students had a desire to serve that took them across the country.
During these week long projects students worked at a large variety of places doing a variety of tasks. Some of these service sites include refugee resettlement centers, homeless shelters, working to help those affected by incarceration, and a variety of others. “Mission: Possible” has been a staple in the Gonzaga community for a number of years and it is evident that students continue to enjoy this opportunity to serve.
To read more about “Mission: Possible,” visit Gonzaga news.
Students and staff from Marian University recently showed their dedication and support for their local community. Marian University volunteered for Saints in the Streets neighborhood clean-up sponsored by St. Anthony and St. Barnabas churches. The service work they did including pulling weeds, picking up trash, and raking leaves; tasks that may at times feel mundane but are very necessary. Saints in the Street attracts a large following of people that want to create a more pleasant community, including Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett.
Students noted that it “was awesome to see the community, including Mayor Joe Hogsett, come together to make our city a better place. Our goal was to clean the streets and make them look beautiful.” Local residents of the neighborhood also helped and showed their appreciation to volunteers.
To read more about Saints in the Streets, visit Marian news.
St. Edward’s University emphasizes the connection between service and learning. Many students participate in various services that are closely connected to what they learn inside the classroom across a variety of majors. Recently St. Edward’s has taken time to highlight different work that students have accomplished during their time on campus.
One communications major was prompted on his freshman year to begin work on combating sexual assault. The student explains how he wrote a paper on sexual assault his freshman year which awakened him to startling statistics and laws that make it difficult for those affected to seek help and reparation. Deeply affected by this paper, he proceed to join “It’s On Us”, which is an action week hosted by St. Edward’s that is focused on sexual assault awareness and prevention. This week long event is great way for students to become aware of and then take action through the course of their academic careers as well as their lives, to combat sexual assault.
To read more about how St. Edward’s connects service and learning, visit St. Edward’s news.
Spring has almost sprung! With the first day of spring and the celebration of Easter just around the corner, the time for renewal and revival is upon us. As the academic year comes to a close, it’s also a great time to take stock of all the peace and justice initiatives your campus has participated in over the course of the year. But just because the year will soon end, those efforts don’t need to stop. Catholic colleges and universities across the nation are finding interesting ways to maintain momentum and keep their work moving forward.
In Iowa, St. Ambrose University is committed to fostering interest in service and justice on campus. One of its ministries is Ambrose Women for Social Justice, which seeks to identify and assess the ways that injustice affects women and men and devise interdisciplinary solutions that are responsive and sensitive to both genders. The female-led student group was created in recognition of women’s need to be more involved in issues that touch their lives. For 14 years, the group has hosted the Women for Social Justice Conference, an annual lecture series to highlight important social and economic justice issues affecting women and girls. Katy A. Strzepek, director of women and gender studies at St. Ambrose, said much of the conference’s success lies in its Catholic identity by showing how students “can enact Catholic Social Teaching, most particularly by standing in solidarity and asking what they can do to help.” She advised students to remember that “no one is voiceless and to go to the uncomfortable places … to foster fruitful and honest dialogue.”
Last year, the conference focused on how gender affects globalization and what students can do to advocate for better policies. Keynote speaker Catherine Tactaquin, co-founder and executive director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, discussed the effects of migration by describing how immigrant and refugee women are often forced to leave their families and work abroad to be able to send wages to their families back home.
Saint Louis University is another Catholic institution that values continual engagement with the world and advocating for global change. Students at the Jesuit university attended the 20thIgnatian Family Teach-In for Justice gathering in November, to learn, reflect, pray, network, and advocate for solidarity and social justice issues. Members of the Jesuit body around the country meet annually to be supported by a like-minded community linked by faith and justice. The gathering also gives them an opportunity each year to honor their Jesuit companions who were martyred in El Salvador in 1989. Last fall, the conference focused on pushing students out of their comfort zones to heed the call that Pope Francis described as the “fire, the fervor in action, awakening those who have become dormant.” Students were encouraged to return to campus with a newfound passion to make a difference in the world and not to accept the status quo. They were urged to participate in the next Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in February by sharing what they had learned with their elected officials and asking for more just policies. To watch speakers and plenaries from the conference, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network. And be sure to mark your calendars for the 2018 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, which will be held November 3-5, in Washington, DC.
SAnother annual occurrence that helps Catholic colleges keep their fervor going is the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering -Young Leaders Initiative in Washington, DC. In February, students from 24 Catholic colleges and universities attended the gathering, with the theme, “Building Community: A Call to the Common Good,” which stressed the significance of acting in solidarity with our marginalized brothers and sisters at home and abroad.
The four-day youth conference was an “opportunity for U.S. leaders in Catholic social action to network, advocate for social justice, and form emerging leaders in service to the Church and society,” according to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, which organized the event. Topics ranged from how climate change is affecting those in the Amazon, to the history of racism in the Catholic Church and how to combat it today.
About 500 people participated, with more than 100 college and university students in attendance. The students expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to be empowered to bring change back to their campuses. Senior theology student at CUA Julia VanConas observed, “Having the opportunity to listen and discuss issues with my peers on topics ranging from immigration to environmental justice, gave me space to develop a greater desire to advocate and bring what I learned back to campus.” Catholic colleges and universities are continuously discovering ways to reinvigorate their campus communities with fresh peace and justice initiatives because it spurs action. Students are investing time in conferences that emphasize peer-to-peer collaboration, keeping abreast of topical issues, and obtaining the necessary tools and resources for advocacy so that they return to campus ready to share the knowledge and make a difference. As the academic year comes to an end and spring begins, this rebirth period offers an opportunity for fruitful examination of what you can do on your campus to revive those around you and advance the work of peace and justice for everyone.
Saint Anselm College nursing students recently further developed their skills while completing clinical work in Cost Rica through the course, Community and Public Health Nursing. Through this immersion experience, students have the opportunity to “assess families in the community to provide health education, and then refer sick patients to receive health care in the clinic that the group sets up and works at.” This winter trip is a core component of the course which aims to discuss the role and impact of nurses in health promotion and disease prevention on a worldwide scale. The goal is for students to discuss what they learned in Cost Rica in a classroom context to further understand the concepts of communicable disease, environmental health, and disaster relief.
Students note that the course takes on a holistic approach, by stating “it has a focus on not just assessment but on the resources available to vulnerable populations, and learning how to treat the whole person.” This fits perfectly in line with the Saint Ambrose’s mission of fostering a “lifelong pursuit of truth and fostering intellectual, moral and spiritual growth to sustain and enrich its graduates’ personal lives, work, and engagement within local, national, and global communities.”
To read more about Saint Anselm nursing student’s experience, visit Saint Anselm news.
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.
Lourdes University recently hosted their 7th annual Have a Heart Restock Drive. This drive is to supply personal care item to six area outreach pantries: Bethany House, Claver House, Helping Hands of St. Louis, Our Lady of Lourdes Outreach Soup Kitchen, Syvania Area Family Services, and USTogther.
Ms. Sophia Lloyd, director of Sylvania Franciscan Village says how “it’s important to assist our local outreach agencies after the holidays when their supplies have been greatly depleted. All donations of unused personal care items for directly to the agencies and those they serve.”
For more information on the “Have a Heart Restock Drive,” visit Lourdes news.