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Saint Mary’s departments lead disaster relief initiatives

| Friday, November 9, 2018

Students at Saint Mary’s have a variety of ways in which they can assist in relief projects after tragedies that occur in the United States. The Division for Mission — which includes Campus Ministry, the Center for Spirituality and the Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) — invites students to “advocate social action” and meet “the spiritual needs of members of all faith traditions” as stated in the College’s core values of justice and spirituality. In times of tragedy, these departments on campus focus on providing supplies, financial support and prayer for those suffering.

“Those hurting and suffering are our brothers and sisters,” Judith Fean, vice president for mission, said in an email. “We reach out in the ways we can. When those in our community, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors are hurting, suffering or grieving, the community is impacted and called to walk in solidarity with them.”

In response to the recent attack in Pittsburgh, the College’s Campus Ministry organized an event for students to write short letters of support to the faithful of the Tree of Life Synagogue. In addition, students collected supplies in their residence halls to assist Hurricane Florence survivors.

“Specifically for Hurricane Florence, we partnered with a local non-profit called ‘Feed the Hungry’ to collect 136 packages of feminine products, 25 tubes of toothpaste, 15 bottles of shampoo, 73 bars of soap, 40 combs and 192 rolls of toilet paper,” Rebekah DeLine, director of OCSE, said.

DeLine said her department helps the community take concrete actions when a disaster takes place.

“My office mobilizes a call to action,” she said. “We provide a venue to allow people to help when disaster occurs. I’ve spent a lot of my adult life in disaster response and I think this is important because almost always disasters disproportionately affect people who are already the most vulnerable.”

At residence hall Masses each Sunday, donations are collected for those who are suffering due to the impact of a certain disaster.

When asked about Campus Ministry’s involvement with disaster relief, Regina Wilson, director of Campus Ministry, said the department focuses on a pastoral approach.

“When disasters happen, Campus Ministry tries to find a way to engage the community in some kind of prayerful response,” she said. “Very often that involves vigil nights so that people can light candles and come by to pray. We usually dedicate the upcoming Mass to praying for the people affected.”

Campus Ministry seeks to involve students in a number of different ways, Wilson said.

“We also work with our Ministry Assistants who work in the residence halls,” she said. “They help facilitate drives in the residence halls. My role is to try to put into motion with the other campus ministers how we are going to get students to engage in some kind of contribution, trying to pool ourselves together in some concerted way so that we as a College can contribute to the relief.”

Students can become involved with relief services by contacting any of the departments previously mentioned or by contacting Emily Sipos-Butler at [email protected] for information on Catholic Relief Services.

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