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Emmanuel’s mission and vision both espouse service as a major priority for the institution. As the school adapts to an increasingly liberal society, Campus Ministry is also working to become more inclusive of students from various (or no) faiths. A common ground lies in service.
For students who are looking to get involved, a visit Campus Ministry would be the place to start. The world of service and Campus Ministry is vast, and Campus Minister Crista Mahoney and Deirdre Bradley-Turner, Director of Community Service and Service Learning had a lot to say about the services offered as well as what they mean to the Emmanuel community.
According to Bradley-Turner, “Emmanuel College has a long history of serving the community. In the spirit of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Emmanuel’s Community Service Program challenges students to respond to the poorest and most abandoned people in the world; seeking to change structures that oppress others and enable the poor to obtain what is rightfully theirs.”
The Community Service Program follows the mission and vision of Emmanuel by promoting a lifelong commitment to social justice and service. This program at Emmanuel has grown over the last decade offering a variety of ways for students to get involved in community service.
“The program offers days of service, regular service opportunities such as the Saturday / Sunday Service Groups, week long service opportunities such as Alternative Spring Break and longer opportunities such as the Community Service Summer Fellowship Program” says Bradley-Turner.
“Emmanuel students are incredibly committed to service as a way of connecting with others both on campus and beyond. My hope would be to see that culture of service continue to grow into a culture of reflection on that service” says Mahoney. “The Four Year Service Program [4YSP] is a great example of the direction I think the College is moving, which is in the middle of its second year.”
In 4YSP, students commit to long-term service with one agency during their time here, and pair it with a regular theological reflection to ask the bigger questions and create new meaning out of their experiences, including where they find God in the people they meet and the service work they do.
“They engage in two retreat days a year, as well, to reflect in a very intentional way as a small community about how faith and social justice intersect,” said Mahoney.
“We are always looking to expand the community service offerings,” said Bradley-Turner. “Each year new students reach out to the office with new ideas and we do our best to work with students to plan and implement those ideas at Emmanuel.”
“All of our service is open to all students,” Mahoney ensured. “Many of our service programs do not specifically touch on spirituality. While we are grounded in the Catholic Christian tradition, we try to keep all of the faith-based programs interfaith so that they are accessible to all students.”
Campus Ministry hopes to engage students’ on their spiritual journeys through many different traditions to meet them where they are.
“Serving others is a connecting point across religions and ways of life. One student may engage in service because it is part of their spirituality or faith life, but another student may engage in it because of a sense of civic duty as a good citizen. We welcome all!”
Programs that focus on faith are called faith-based service programs. Those programs include Alternative Spring Break (ASB) and the Four Year Service Program, but they are not limited to students who identify as practicing Christians. Students are also welcome to serve the community through service learning courses.
“Students who are motivated to serve out of civic duty or by ‘simply doing good’ are just as much a part of the ongoing dialogue as any other student. All service leads to the common good of our society” said Bradley-Turner.
The Community Service Program at Emmanuel works in partnership with dozens of agencies throughout the City of Boston. Through these partnerships Emmanuel students are able to volunteer in a variety of ways in Boston.
“Students are able to prepare and serve food, volunteer in shelters, volunteer as mentors in after schools, volunteer in food banks, coordinate walk teams, coordinate clothing drives, food drives and blood drives,” said Bradley-Turner.
Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is a faith based service trip sponsored by Mission & Ministry that takes place during our March Spring Break. Students have the opportunity to travel with staff and participate in a week-long service project. Students spend their days in service and their evenings in pray and reflection on the experience while living together in a communal setting.
“Students must apply to participate in ASB. It is a very popular program with twice as many applications received as spaces available,” said Deirdre.
In March 2014 three ASB trips will take place – Phoenix, AZ (focusing on hunger and homelessness), New Orleans, LA (focusing on rebuilding following Hurricane Katrina) & Boston, MA (focusing on food justice).
Mikey Morris ’14 works in the Center for Mission Engagement and is a two-time ASB alumn.
“Service has always been a huge part of my life. Coming to Emmanuel and hearing about all the opportunities to serve was so exciting. ASB was definitely the most life changing experience for me. Being able to serve and learn in New Orleans for the past two Spring breaks has been beyond rewarding. Meeting new people and entering into the beautiful culture in NOLA has made such a huge impact in my life and I am forever thankful!”
Students can learn more about the Community Service Program by e-mailing Deirdre Bradley-Turner, Director of Community Service and Service Learning at email@example.com, visiting the office Admin 152 or going online to http://www.emmanuel.edu/student-life/mission-ministry/community-service.html
Students can also check pictures of the 2013 ASB trips at EC’s Pinterest Page here: http://www.pinterest.com/emmanuelcollege/
Kyla Burke is a Staff writer and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.