St. Edward’s Selected as “Best Practices” School for Interfaith Challenge
St. Edward’s University was recently named a “best practices” school in President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. The national initiative, now in its third year, invites higher education institutions to commit to a year of interfaith cooperation and community service programming on their campuses.
Since the launch, more than 500 colleges and universities have participated. St. Edward’s was chosen as one of four universities (along with The George Washington University, University of Wisconsin, and Chapman University) as a campus model of bridging curricular, co-curricular and community partners to promote interfaith community service.
Collaboration Across Campus
When presented with the challenge, students and faculty on the hilltop stepped up. In all, they logged more than 300 service hours and engaged more than 300 students in interfaith service work.
“The St. Edward’s community has a long history of reaching out to the larger Austin community in a variety of ways, so that is not a unique concept for our institution,” says James Puglisi, associate director of Campus Ministry. “What the challenge has provided is a forum to work even more collaboratively across sectors.”
One especially collaborative effort involved the Music Department, the Kozmetsky Center, Campus Ministry, and Mobile Loaves and Fishes. They all came together to promote the issues of homelessness through music with the performance of Henry Mollicone’s “Mass for the Homeless,” which also served as a venue to raise money for Mobile Loaves and Fishes.
A Stronger Community
Students also worked with Allies Against Slavery by visiting local businesses, hotels and bars to provide information and education about the increase of human trafficking and how to rescue women involved in trafficking. The student group REACH OUT organized a Homeless Fair as part of the Holy Cross Day of Service, and the athletics department sponsored Global Sports Day, welcoming low-income youth to join in recreational activities. At campus events such as The BIG Event and Founders Day, students reflected on their shared values and beliefs that transcend cultures
“We are stronger as a campus community when we share with each other the values and respect for the human dignity of all people, as a reflection of our Holy Cross tradition, as well as in the various other religious and cultural traditions represented at St. Edward’s University,” says Puglisi.