St. Bonaventure University Stands with Victims and their Families

St. Bonaventure University put their faith in action as about 60 students, faculty, and staff participated in the National School Walk-out by gathering on campus and remembering the 17 victims of the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. St. Bonaventure’s Franciscan Center for Social Concern director, Jeff Sved, noted that they participated in this National Walk-out because “we’re all delivering the same message: never again.”

The walkout program included framed photos of each of the seventeen victims with a single candle behind each image. It also included a seventeen minute video that “ended with a moment of silence to remember those killed by school shootings and a call to action.”

To read more about how St. Bonaventure University is taking action, visit St. Bonaventure news.

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University of Dayton Signs Climate Change Pledge

University of Dayton is doing their part to address the climate change. In November, University of Dayton President Eric Spina was among more than 150 leaders of Catholic universities, organizations and religious orders, including ACCU, who signed a letter urging President Donald Trump and Congress to reassert U.S. leadership in the global effort to address climate change.

The letter is from the Catholic Climate Covenant and ask for “funding the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” Climate change has become on an increasing worldwide issue and catholic leaders across the world have affirmed climate change as a “moral issue that threatens core Catholic values, including the protection of human life, the promotion of human dignity, the advancement of the common good, the call to live in solidarity with future generations, and the care for God’s creation.” The University of Dayton, as a Catholic institution, holds firm these same values and have made these known by signing this important letter. In addition to taking this pledge, the University of Dayton was the first Catholic university in the nation to divest in fossil fuels and is a member of the U.N. Global Compact.

To read more about the University of Dayton’s efforts, view UD news.

‘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.

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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

Jesuit Network Commits to Dreamers

On Tuesday, September 5 the Trump Administration announced that they are repealing the DACA program-which will affect 800,000 undocumented young people.

Standing with the Dreamers, Fr. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, released a letter from the Jesuits regarding this decision to repeal DACA. He said that “now more than ever, we commit ourselves to living out God’s law, which calls on us to love the stranger, remembering that our ancestors in faith were once strangers in a foreign land.” The letter speaks of the ways that Dreamers have positively affected Jesuit institutions and how these institutions will continue to support comprehensive immigration reform.

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities released a similar statement regarding the Jesuit mission to protect and commit to educating undocumented students.

Jesuit institutions across the nation have come together in solidarity with the Dreamers by hosting rallies and prayer vigils. Presidents of Jesuit universities have issued statements regarding DACA with many calling on Congress to act as soon as possible in order to provide a future for undocumented young persons.

To view the full article, click here.

University of Scranton Hosts Event on Refugee Resettlement

In February, the University of Scranton hosted “The Future of Refugee Resettlement”, an event hosted by the University of Scranton’s In Solidarity with Syria committee. The event consisted in a discussion with William Canny, executive director of Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Maggie Walsh, Scranton High School English as a Second Language teacher, both graduates of the University of Scranton. Their discussion focused on both the international challenges of refugees and the local manifestation of these issues in the Scranton community. Canny addressed the vetting process in place in the United States for refugees and the moral imperative to care for refugees. Walsh spoke to her personal experience of teaching refugee children and their struggles.

The In Solidarity with Syria committee is a coordinated advocacy effort involving university administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, and students to aid those affected by the current immigration crisis through education and advocacy.

Read the full article on the University of Scranton event here.

Benedictine College Launches Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign

Benedictine College has launched a human trafficking awareness campaign for the spring semester, beginning with a showing of the film End It. The campaign is being hosted by the Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassadors at Benedictine College. After the film showing, students were given an opportunity to write to their congressman as a call to action. The campaign will continue throughout the rest of the semester, hosting events such as a solidarity vigil and a lecture given by trafficking abolitionist Dr. Shalina Stilley.

President of the CRS Benedictine chapter, Hannah Voss, noted that “The campaign’s motto is ‘I am the cause, I am the solution.’ It ties in our solidarity as individuals and our roles.”

Read more in Benedictine’s student newspaper, The Circuit.