Service has long been a hallmark of a SLU education, as well as a response to the Gospel call to care for others. Many of the typical service opportunities were closed, though our Campus Kitchen was not. Repurposing food donations from SLU’s food service and retailers such as Trader Joe’s, students and faculty continued to prepare meals that were distributed to the elderly and the homeless.
Students stepped up in other ways, as well. Many undergraduates volunteered to be Public Health Ambassadors, who were organized by our graduate students in the School of Public Health and Social Justice. The ambassadors would regularly audit the campus, identifying classrooms that lacked disinfectant or empty hand sanitizer stations. They would review public spaces, too, and their notes were given over to our amazing and exhausted facilities and custodial teams.
Our nursing students volunteered to assist in administering COVID-19 tests to more than 350 students each week. As one of our nursing students, Cathleen Cusic, shared, she believed that the university’s Jesuit mission was one of the reasons that she and her fellow nursing students jumped at the chance to get involved. “We are big on action. We don’t just talk about doing something. We pitch in and make a difference. I love that we are part of the solution. I’m so glad SLU gave us the opportunity to work on this together.”
We ended the semester Thanksgiving week having not closed the campus during the semester. Hybrid learning, virtual retreats, live-streamed liturgies, podcasts, and webinars were opportunities to think and do and pray in creative ways. And while we are now no longer on campus, we still stay in touch. We are celebrating the Advent season with “Thrill of Hope,” a daily reflection based on the day’s scripture readings written by a student or faculty or staff member. Those reflections are posted daily on the Mission Office Facebook page, @SLUjesuitmission, if you would like to see and participate.
Let’s continue to pray for one another.
David Suwalsky, SJ, is vice president of mission and identity at Saint Louis University.