Campus Ministries' Student Leaders Begin their Unique Ser...

    From left: Grace Donnelly ’20 and Briana Abrams ‘20
    February 18, 2019
    By: Briana Abrams ‘20, Exercise Science major and Grace Donnelly ’20, Occupational Therapy major

    Throughout our time at The University of Scranton, one thing that has become apparent to us is the fact that we are all called to serve one another. Whether it be volunteering at a new organization in the local Scranton community for our Community-Based Learning project or spending a week with 10 of our peers and chaperones on a Campus Ministries’ Domestic Outreach (DO) Service trip, service is something to which we have grown to love and look forward. Campus Ministries offers students, as well as faculty and staff, countless opportunities to challenge themselves to step out of their comfort zones through various service opportunities, whether it be here in the community of Scranton, in other parts of the country, or in numerous countries in Central and South America. These unique experiences have allowed us to open our hearts and eyes to those around us, question ideas that we have always held to be true, and see the goodness in each person we meet and day that we live.

    On Sunday, Jan. 27, the Campus Ministries’ Domestic Outreach Service Trip Program held a retreat day for all service trip participants and chaperones. As peer facilitators to the Appalachia region in Kentucky and St. Michael’s Association for Special Education (SMASE) in Arizona, we worked with the six other DO peer facilitators to design and lead the retreat day. We incorporated important aspects of the program including prayer, reflection, Catholic Social Teaching, and community building. One goal of this retreat was to strengthen the bonds we made at our first group meetings during the fall semester. We’re so grateful for how our groups responded to the activities throughout the day. The participants were open to sharing and seemed more comfortable with one another by the end of the day.

    Additionally, we’re both excited to be participants in Campus Ministries’ International Service Program (ISP). We are attending the Kino Border Initiative in Arizona/Mexico and the CRISPAZ organization in El Salvador. Fortunately, we were able to take part in the ISP retreat as participants the following weekend. We were excited about the unknown of the weekend, including different activities and discussion topics. The topics of prayer, reflection, Catholic Social Teaching, and community building were evident in all aspects of the weekend, just as they had been in the DO retreat. Although the topics were the same throughout both retreats, both of us found that our groups’ conversations and reflections were very different. Taking part in the discussions as a participant reminded us to better understand when we see the members in our DO groups being hesitant to share because it can be difficult to formulate your ideas on the spot. Overall, we loved being able to participate in the retreats as both a peer facilitator and as a participant. We are equally excited about both trips and are confident that although they will be two very different experiences, they will be equally rewarding. 

    Everyone always says how the best part of The University of Scranton is the sense of community. This is something we told to be true. However, another important part about the University is the different families that exist within this community, and the bonds that you are able to create with those around you. Sometimes it takes a day of travel and exhaustion with people that you barely know to lay a foundation that allows you to develop an indescribable bond that no one else, other than those on the trip, can understand. Due to the way that our service experiences with Campus Ministries have changed our perspectives on the world, we are forever changed and grateful. Without the chance to participate in the University’s programs, we would not be the people that we are today. These service opportunities are able to change the lives of participants.

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