Winter 2016

Some of the nearly 600 members of the University community who volunteered during this fall’s World Meeting of Families gathered on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum prior to the Papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

SJU Volunteers Impact World Meeting of Families

Giving their time becomes second nature to SJU alumni

The ethos of “giving back” is at the core of everything Saint Joseph’s University espouses. This was never more on display than when the committee organizing September’s World Meeting of Families (WMOF) issued a call for volunteers.

As Philadelphia’s Jesuit University, Saint Joseph’s responded loudest among the corporations and universities involved in welcoming the Jesuit Pope. Nearly 600 University students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents and friends volunteered in myriad roles, from taking shifts in a call center and assembling pilgrim kits to staffing events at Independence Mall and on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

As part of the Papal Mass on the Parkway on Sunday, Sept. 27, nearly 200 SJU students served as communion assistants, carrying gold and white umbrellas into the crowd to signify the location of a priest or deacon distributing communion.

The impressive number of SJU volunteers didn’t surprise anyone on Hawk Hill.

“Our alumni genuinely wanted to help,” said Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations Tom Monaghan. “They were extremely proud to volunteer for this historic event.”

“Many of our students serve because they enjoy it,” said Thomas J. Sheibley, director of Campus Ministry. “We have a culture at SJU where students are happy to share their enthusiasm for service, which encourages others to try it also. We simply provide the outlets and opportunities for students to do something that gives them joy and meaning.”

Even before they matriculate, SJU students have the opportunity to embrace the concepts of service and volunteerism through participation in the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program. Throughout their collegiate career, Hawks are presented with ample opportunities to develop into people serving with and for others. Whether it’s Campus Ministry programs, weekly community service, Appalachian Experience (which filled in record time this year), service learning or projects sponsored by individual organizations and clubs, SJU students respond to the call. In fact, SJU has been named to President’s Higher Ed Community Service Honor Roll for nearly a decade straight.

Thanks to the Alumni Association’s ample ways to give back to the community and University, engaged alumni have many opportunities to keep their attitude of gratitude fresh. Several hundred alumni participate in the annual Global Community Day at dozens of service sites across the globe and each year and alumni accompany students on their APEX trip. Alumni advise students in the virtual realm, return to campus for career- and admissions-related programs, help plan reunions and serve in elected positions.

“On Hawk Hill, so many opportunities were offered to me as a student to succeed – academically, spiritually, athletically, civically and in service to others,” said National Alumni Board member Maria Montero ’98. “Saint Joseph’s helped further develop my social conscious. Receiving inspirational, intangible gifts like these leaves an indelible debt of service on one’s soul. For me, it’s natural to give back two-fold to the community which helped form the person I am.”

If you’re interested in donating your time, visit the Alumni Association’s Volunteer Headquarters.

– Kevin Kaufman