Learning about service learning

By Nathan Ress and Carl Legg

Features Editor and Features Contributer

In an upcoming edition, the Griffin will be traveling with Campus Ministry to various service opportunities in the community. In preparation, the Griffin stopped into the Campus Ministry offices to get more information and diverse perspectives on the available service opportunities.

“There are so many entrances into campus ministry,” said Assistant Director of Campus Ministry Sarah Signorino. She went on to describe both domestic and international service trips available to students. Domestic trips are available to places such as Syracuse, New York City, Erie, Pennsylvania, and Saratoga Springs, while international trips are available to India, Poland, Jamaica, and Guatemala. Domestic trips usually last three days to a week, while international trips range from ten days to three weeks.

Signorino went on to add, “Our focus is on being with people.” As volunteers, Canisius students and faculty realize that they may not be able to make an incredibly drastic change in the lives of others in only a few days. However, the beauty is in being with the individuals, said Signorino. The opportunity is presented to the volunteer to make a meaningful relationship with another and to spend the time in personal reflection and service, deepening one’s spirituality.

Furthermore, Canisius offers many great internal spiritual opportunities. For example, there are numerous retreat opportunities offered through campus ministry. Potential options include the Ignis retreat for freshmen, the famously secret Kairos retreat, various women’s and men’s retreats, and an LGBTQ retreat, as well as longer-term retreats such as the spiritual exercises.

If a student doesn’t have the time to devote to a long-term ministry such as a service trip or retreat there are an even greater number of local Buffalo service options. These service opportunities are headed by Joe Van Volkenburg, the self-described opposite of Signorino, she being an organized type and he being more a leader of the troops. Van Volkenburg spearheads such volunteer projects as the Burrito Service Project, St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, South Buffalo Community Table, and Meals on Wheels. These service opportunities are much less of a time commitment, often leaving directly from Van Volkenburg’s office and lasting anywhere from thirty minutes to a couple of hours.

These smaller service operations work in conjunction with local organizations and focus on the corporal works of mercy such as “feed the hungry” and “clothe the naked.” They are direct interactions with and beside those in need in Buffalo, within Canisius’ own community. As such, the experiences, though potentially brief, are all the more meaningful and memorable.

Additionally, the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice will take place November 12-14 in Washington, D.C. The teach-in will feature Father Greg Boyle, S.J., talking about his book and service at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California. Finally, and in the near future, there is the upcoming Canisius Community Day on October 1. This will bring the entire Canisius community together in local service. It is a bastion of the Canisius experience and a well-cherished experience.

All of these are examples of potential service opportunities at Canisius. As promised, dear reader, the Griffin will be following up with a more in-depth report on a few of these local service opportunities, offering a firsthand account of what it is to be a Griff in service.



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