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Students connect with South Bend community

| Thursday, October 5, 2017

Saint Mary’s is hosting its first Westside Friday event aimed at connecting students with issues involving immigration within the South Bend community.

Emily Sipos-Butler, assistant director of Campus Ministry, said the event, taking place this Friday, is the last event for the week-long Prayer and Action for Refugees and Migrants program.

“It’s part of this global migration campaign that the Catholic Church worldwide is engaging in, and it is an important part of what we do here in Campus Ministry — to try and engage students with both their faith and issues of justice and charity and action.” she said

The event aims to give students an experience of the immigrant community in South Bend, Sipos-Butler said. Receiving information through the news or social media creates a distance between students and those affected by these issues.

“If we can help students encounter a community and individuals within a community and the culture of that community, that is a way of breaking into this big issue of immigration and refugees in a different way,” she said.

Sophomore Anne Maguire said she started getting involved in South Bend last year, and it has helped her feel connected to the larger community and make it feel like home.

“When I came here, I didn’t really think South Bend had much to offer, and I think that is a common misconception many students have when they’re stuck in their campus community,” Maguire said. “But I have discovered that the community is so incredible and full of inspiring people that have really welcomed me.”

Maguire said one of the things Catholic institutions are called to do is to welcome the stranger.

“The importance of this program through Campus Ministry is one that roots itself in faith, as we are called to love our neighbors, locally and globally,” she said.

One of the best ways to support the community is to spend our money in places that count, Maguire said.

“Spending your money is just a small part that can make a really big impact on someone’s life if you’re conscious of where you’re spending it and who you’re really supporting,” she said. “I really hope that, through this event, students will be more appreciative and supportive of the businesses in South Bend, particularly those that are owned by people with mixed-immigrant status.”

Students often get stuck in the campus bubble and forget that one of the main goals of their education is to to go out into the world and be part of something larger, Sipos-Butler said.

“If you can have a taste of what that’s like to be out into a real community of a diversity of backgrounds, beliefs and occupations, while you’re also participating in this wonderful bubble, I think that’s just going to help you prepare so much better when you go out into the world past this bubble for good.”

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