OSJ: A Semester in Review

The Mount’s Office of Social Justice has served 35 student-led service trips this semester, engaging over 300 students campus-wide and completing around 2,900 hours of service while instilling a love for peace and justice in the world.

Junior John O’Connor says that he has been able to find and claim his faith with the service going out of the office, located in Lower McGowan, being deeply rooted in Catholic Social Teaching.

This semester, the 15 core leaders and 258 student volunteers hosted the largest Fall Sports Fest in all of its 28 years hosting the event. This event is unique in that it engages all different groups on campus to come together to support and celebrate the lives and successes of special needs athletes. In addition to the Fall Sports Fest, the Silence of Mary trip drew large numbers of students to service, as well as the ever-growing service retreats to Philadelphia.

As Director of the Office of Social Justice, Ian Van Anden comments, “all 35 experiences, are facilitated and developed by students in the Core Office and they do an exceptional job and deserve all the credit in the world for all the work coming through this office.”

Sophomore Core Leader, Josue Amaya emphasizes that his favorite event that the office provided this semester was the Hunger and Homelessness Week Awareness speaker.

“It was very impactful because you never really get to hear people tell their story,” Amaya noted.

The office is looking forward to their spring break trips this year to Jacksonville, Fla., which is already full, and the trip to the newly restarted Emmaus Farm in Vanceburg, Ky., that is engaging Mount Alums and faculty with a few spots still open.

On Jan. 16 they will be celebrating MLK day as a “day on” instead of day off, in Washington DC and Baltimore, which is a great opportunity to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and kick off the school year in service. On March 24, the office will be celebrating Relay for Life, with a great group of students heading it up and recruiting teams. On April 1, the Core Office will host its second annual Day of Service with multiple experiences going out as a large scale day of service, working with communities in Thurmont, Frederick and Emmitsburg, Md.

O’Connor in particular enjoys leading the Retreat to the Streets in Philadelphia to form relationships with the community and take a step deeper into the world of social justice. His favorite part about the experience is being able to stay in the community and live frugally. He comments that knowing the community is important.

“Being able to serve has been life-changing. I came from just seeing service as something that I like to do and just did, to something that is integral to my life. Service has woven its way into how I see people from everyone, to truly good human beings with dignity.”

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