St. Mary’s University Collaborates with Catholic Charities in Service

One excellent way to engage in Lenten sacrifice is through service to our brothers and sisters in need. In an effort to participate in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX, is partnering this Lent with Catholic Charities of San Antonio for their annual Continuing the Heritage Day of Service, as well as their inaugural “40 Days of Service” campaign.

In contrast to the brand new 40 Days of Service, Continuing the Heritage is a thirteen year old service initiative, in which over 8,500 volunteers have participated in 50,000 hours of service since its inception. This biannual day of service is an opportunity for St. Mary’s University students, staff, faculty to set aside some time to engage with the local community in various projects. From 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, over 500 volunteers served at over twenty different sites in the San Antonio area in projects including gardening, assisting teachers at elementary schools, food preparation, assisting at hospitals, and much more.

Continuing the Heritage kicked off St. Mary’s and Catholic Charities’ first 40 Days of Service. This new initiative will bring St. Mary’s students, staff, and faculty and San Antonio community members together to continue serving their neighbors in need. The various projects include mentoring, organizing donation drives, stocking food donations, tutoring children, distributing food, painting, landscaping and assisting veterans and seniors.

How will your college or university engage in service this Lent? Let us know! 


Year of Mercy Videos from CRS

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has released a series of brief videos on the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis inaugurated December 8, 2015. The four videos feature some of the stars of the Catholic social ministry community, including Fr. James Martin, SJ of America Magazine, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle from the Philippines, Kerry Weber of America Magazine, and Lisa Hendey of   In each of the videos each speaker gives his or her definition of mercy and a short reflection on the Year of Mercy and what it means to them. Be sure to check them out to learn more about the  Year of Mercy!


What video resources do you find most helpful? Let us know!

Catholic Higher Education Kicks Off Year of Mercy

With the initiation of the Year of Mercy on December 8, Catholic colleges and universities have been preparing to live the call to mercy throughout the year. In a recent National Catholic Register article, four ACCU members were featured for their Year of Mercy initiatives.

At Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH, students have begun to put into action what the promptings of the Holy Spirit in a program entitled, “Project Mercy“. The two weekend project will feature six separate events and all seven works of mercy.

Additionally, both Ave Maria University and the University of San Diego have posted online resources for the Year of Mercy to engage their respective university communities.

Finally, The Catholic University of America campus ministry and law school have chosen to make a concerted effort to promote their existing projects related to the Year of Mercy. They have also added initiatives to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness to “claim legal rights to shelter”, as well as help “low-income workers prepare tax returns and immigrants navigate the citizenship process.”

With all of this in mind, ACCU president Michael Galligan-Stierle has praised such involvement as showing how, “the intertwined values of mercy, justice and compassion animate Catholic institutions of higher education.” He went on to note that ACCU has chosen “Reflecting on the Message of Mercy” as the theme for the annual conference for mission officers.

With the start of the Year of Mercy, Catholic colleges and universities have continued, in their acts of mercy, to act as examples for the world. Keep up the good work!

How does your college or university promote mercy? Let us know! 

CMN and USCCB Offer Resources for Respect Life Month

Every October, the USCCB and the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty (CMN) dedicate the entire month to reflection, prayer, and advocacy on all life issues, with a special focus on the death penalty.

The USCCB offers a rich variety of resources on every life issue there is. From stem cell research to physician assisted suicide, the Respect Life Program webpage offers the full span of every type of promotional material and resource imaginable. This includes prayer and reflection guides, homily suggestions, a comprehensive catalog of program materials, educational articles, an informational flyer or poster, and more.

While the USCCB provides resources on the full breadth of life issues, CMN focuses on the death penalty and restorative justice. Throughout the month, CMN will be posting and advertising resources such as guides for prayer vigils, homily inspirations, data on the death penalty and more on their Respect Life Month webpage. Specifically for colleges and universities, CMN continually offers three different workshops directed specifically towards college students. The workshop titles include “Living the Year of Mercy”, “A Journey of Faith”, and “From Harm to Renewal”. The themes range from mercy in the criminal justice system, the death penalty, and restorative justice, respectively. Visit the college curriculum page for more information and to get the resources for your campus.

Don’t forget to register for CMN’s annual conference, this year entitled A New Path to Justice, which takes place on November 6 at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Find out more here and stay tuned for updates.

What is your college or university doing to celebrate Respect Life Month? Let us know!

#HigherEdWithPope: Gwynedd Mercy University

The culmination of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to the Americas is the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, PA. As the Meeting is the purpose of the visit, Our Holy Father’s time in the City of Brotherly Love is arguably the most anticipated portion of the visit. In keeping with the excitement over the climactic weekend, Philadelphia’s colleges and universities are more than doing their part to welcome Pope Francis.

One of the universities that is hosting events in anticipation of the visit and the WMOF, Gwynedd Mercy University, is especially attentive to the Pontiff’s message for the Year of Mercy. To reflect this theme and to remain true to their heritage, the students, faculty and staff of Gwynedd Mercy have successfully scheduled a week full of preparatory activities, which include their annual Mercy Week and Pope-a-Palooza.

As an established annual celebration of the university’s history, Mercy Week is full of events honoring the Sisters of Mercy, the university’s founding congregation.  The mission of the Year of Mercy resonates with the values of the Sisters of Mercy, who seek to fill their lives with service for others. The events include live viewings of all the papal addresses and Masses, as well as a special Mercy Day Mass to honor the Sisters and Associates of Mercy at the university. See the flyer on the GMU Campus Ministry website for more details.

Pope-a-Palooza takes place over the weekend of Pope Francis’ actual visit to Philadelphia from Saturday, September 26 to Sunday, September 27. In celebration of His Holiness being in such close proximity, Gwynedd Mercy will be hosting over sixty students from five other universities affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy. They will be joining GMU students, faculty, and staff in a weekend of opportunities to delve deeper into the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy, to share their faith, and to advocate for our brothers and sisters experiencing poverty and homelessness. They will also be making the trip to the city of Philadelphia to attend the Mass on the Parkway with Our Holy Father.

#HigherEdWithPope: Catholic colleges and universities are greatly anticipating the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the United States, and several colleges will play a special role during the Papal Visit. This series highlights how certain Catholic colleges and universities are preparing for the Papal Visit, and how Catholic higher education lives out the vision of Pope Francis every day.