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10 Ways to Celebrate Holy Week

This week, Christians celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in a special way. Above all holidays, this week is the most central to Christian life. Here are 10 ways you can observe and celebrate Holy Week!

  1. Serve someone in need.
    Pope Francis has declared this the Year of Mercy so that all may “grow stronger and more effective” in mercy. Like the Good Samaritan in the gospel, we show mercy when we decide not to walk past someone in need. This exemplifies the life of Jesus.
    Example: Help serve a community meal at First Presbyterian Church in Leavenworth or in Kansas City Kansas with USM students. Meet at 4pm on Tuesday or 9:30am on Saturday respectively in the Office of Campus Ministry. Contact S. Rejane Cytacki (
  2. Read the Gospel.
    This is a great practice for Holy Week and a great way to revisit stories and words with which you might be familiar and others with which you might not be familiar.
    Example: Take an hour and read the Gospel of Mark from beginning to end reflecting on this question: how are the followers of Jesus continually challenged in the Gospel? OR Spend twenty minutes each night reading the Gospel of Luke reflecting on this question: who are the poor in the Gospel of Luke and how does Jesus serve them?
  3. Celebrate with a worshiping community.
    Many Christian churches come together to celebrate on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter), Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil (Saturday night), and Easter Sunday. This is a great way to experience the richness of these holy days and share them with others.
    Example: The Sisters of Charity are celebrating Holy Week in 2016 with the following services in Ross Chapel (Mother house) open to any in the USM community: Holy Thursday 7:00pm, Good Friday 3:00pm, Easter Vigil 7:30pm Saturday, Easter Sunday 10:00am.
  4. Visit someone who needs a visitor.
    Show love and appreciation to someone who needs it. This could be a family member or friend you haven’t seen in a while, someone who is sick, or perhaps someone in prison.
    Example: Visit Sisters of Charity in Ross Hall with students from Rotoract Club. Meeting in the office of campus ministry at 3:15pm on Thursday March 24th.
  5. Plant a seed.
    Planting a tree, flower, or other plant is a beautiful symbol of resurrection used by Jesus in the gospel. The seed “dies” to become something new-a beautiful work of God’s creation. This beauty reminds us of the need to care for our common home.
    Example: Plant a tree in your yard at home OR go to a local park and find a tree or flower-spend some time appreciating it and the gifts it brings to our world.
  6. Fast (and “slow”!)
    Fasting is the practice of abstaining from something (food, smoking, etc.) in order to set the mind toward something else. That is why fasting should always be accompanied by “slowing”- taking some time to refocus on what is important.
    Example: On Good Friday, give up eating between meals. When you find yourself wanting to grab a snack, think about something good in your life and express thanks for it.
  7. Enjoy sacred art, music, film or literature.
    The life, death and resurrection of Jesus has been explored in many and varied ways through the arts. Experiencing these works of art opens our minds and hearts to new meaning of age old themes.
    Example: Go with a friend to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art to contemplate and discuss sacred art and other art as well.
  8. Give to a charity.
    We often think about giving to a charity or cause we support, but we often forget to do so unless the opportunity is right in front of us. Take some time during holy week to take that initiative and give to an important cause.
    Example: Grab a CRS rice bowl from campus ministry to put in your home or office for loose change. Proceeds will be sent from campus ministry to Catholic Relief Services.
  9. Pray.
    The gospels are filled with moments where Jesus goes off alone to pray or prays with the disciples. There are many ways to pray. Reserve some time in the morning, noon, afternoon, or night just for prayer. Discover how you pray best and how to make prayer a part of your life.
    Example: Set a chair or location in your home where you will go for ten minutes when you get up and before you go to sleep. Speak a prayer aloud or quietly, read a sacred text, write in a journal, or simply rest in silence.
  10. Spend some time with family and friends.
    The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is a story of life in its fullness. Do something fun with family or friends over this holy week to share good memories and reconnect.
    Example: Invite friends or family to dinner. Find a moment to express to each person something about him/her that you appreciate and for which you are grateful.

Going Home

Bob Dylan sings “I was young when I left home… I never wrote a letter to my home… I can’t go home this way.”  Lent is a time of returning home; a time of going back.

Like the lost man in Dylan’s song, we often look back to something wonderful we’ve lost in our lives, but we think we’re too far gone to go back, saying “I can’t go home this way.”

If there is something during this Lenten season to which you feel you need to return… reconciling with an old friend, casting off a bad habit, or visiting someone you haven’t seen in a long time… take this opportunity to do it.  Take comfort in the words of the Prophet Joel, “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.”

We may feel unable to go home, but these words suggest that it is never too late.  So take this opportunity during Lent to turn around and revisit a piece of home you’ve left behind.

Attitude of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!  When we express gratitude, we become more aware of the need to preserve the good things in our world and bring joy to others. Members of our community at USM have written down some things for which they are thankful…

* My life. I am thankful for Jesus dying for me. My Family. Love and I am thankful that I can get a good education!

* My Faith

* My Family

* Faith and the fullness of my Catholic faith. I am thankful for the opportunity to practice and to receive the Eucharist daily, openly, and freely. I am thankful for my parents and family, the many freedoms we have. The many workers who preserve them and to live in our great country. God has blessed us I am thankful for the gift of our heavenly mother.

* The helpful people in the ARC

* Dr Krusemark, Music Teacher Yeah!

* For good health, mobility and life

* That my daughter is doing well, after being discharged from the hospital

* My family and the love and support they give me.

* My family and friends

* My wonderful husband of 32 years and 2 daughters

* My health, my family & friends as well as my Saint Mary family. Most importantly, my faith.

* My friends and family supporting me with all things I do and being able to make memories with them.

* Family and community

* Friends and fam, bam

* The school community

* My friends

* Parents

* My squad

* For my feet and my hair

* The breath of life

* My friends, family and classmates

Thanks to Sharon Clay and the Office of Development for collecting notes of thankfulness.

Fall Break Service Trip to Jerusalem Farm October 15-18

Looking for a way to serve people and connect with USM and Avila students over your fall break?  This trip is for you!  We will be staying at Jerusalem Farm located in Kansas City, Missouri. This is an intentional community of people who host college groups to do service within their local neighborhood.  You will get to participate in home repair projects, a neighborhood compost program, working on the farm’s gardens, and preparing a meal. All will be done in collaboration with each other and Avila students. Jerusalem Farm has four cornerstones: simplicity, community, service, and prayer. For more information about Jerusalem Farm’s ministry go to their website:

We will leave campus in the afternoon of October 15 and return on Sunday October 18. The cost is $60 for the four days. There is an online application at  or stop by the Campus ministry office for a paper copy.Looking forward to serving with you!  S. Rejane

New Orleans Spring Break Service Trip


After surviving our fifteen hour van ride, we arrived at the House of Charity in New Orleans.  Four religious sisters from different Sisters of Charity Congregations welcomed us to share life with them for a week. This house’s mission is to be a place for service groups like ourselves to not only stay but experience the Sisters of Charity shared Vincentian spirituality. The house quickly became home for us because of the sisters’ warm hospitality. A typical day would include eating breakfast, packing a sack lunch, morning prayer, a morning outing or tour, working at our Saint Bernard Project House, and coming home for a hot shower, a delicious meal, and an evening reflection about our day. To sisters Mary Lex, Theresa, Claire, and Monica we are grateful.  Below are the following reflections from three students who went to New Orleans. (Sister Rejane)

Jenny Herbig

I was thirteen years old when hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Memories from that day are from the media. I recall seeing photos of people trapped on top of their houses and people using boats to get around the city. While I was not personally impacted by the hurricane I felt a sense of hopelessness for not being able to go down and help. Ten years later, I was finally able to go visit the city of New Orleans and be a part of the rebuilding.

 Alexis Hayden

For the week, we volunteered with the Saint Bernard Project, a non-profit that rebuilds houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  We were assigned to one house for five days and we installed insulation and drywall. These were both new skills for me. The work proved to be a challenge, but well worth it when we saw all that we accomplished at the end of the week.

 Josue Gonzalez

It was such a wonderful opportunity to have been part of such a rewarding trip to New Orleans. I consider the trip to rewarding because it gave myself and the rest of my group a chance to reward those less fortunate than ourselves with a helping hand. With just one week’s worth of hard work, we were able to bring a waiting family even closer to being able to come back home.

Another astounding event was to have participated in the Interfaith Prayer for Peace. It was such an incredible experience to have witnessed different churches and faiths come together to pray for peace in New Orleans where a high rate of violence and crime are a problem. I cannot recall a moment in my life where I have seen such a peaceful gathering. Overall, my time in New Orleans served to strengthen my belief in the benefit of togetherness. Together people can achieve greatness.

USM Hunger Awareness Team at the Kansas Hunger Dialogues

hat  Our USM Hunger Awareness Team (HAT)  attended the 5th Annual Kansas Hunger Dialogues at Newman University in Wichita. These is an opportunity for all the universities and colleges in the state to come together and share ideas about fighting hunger on their campuses.  Shala Steffes, Jenny Herbig, and Maggie Stewart presented about the HAT activities that have occurred on the USM Campus since the fall of 2013. Some of those activities include: International Food Packaging events, a Hunger Awareness Banquet, and a Hunger Awareness Week to name of a few. The one activity that peaked other universities’ interests was a week of weighing food waste in our cafeteria. Several schools mentioned they would be initiating this when they returned to campus.  The day ended with a local food packaging event that helped stock Wichita food pantries’ shelves.  The following are two students’ reflections:

Alexis Hayden

I had a wonderful experience at the Kansas Hunger Dialogue. I got to attend this special presentation with an amazing group of people who share the same passion of trying to help solve the major hunger problem that faces our world today. The presentation I enjoyed the most was the one about on campus food pantries by Washburn University, Fort Hayes, and University of Kansas. Each presenter gave great ideas with starting tips, placement, and sustainability from their personal experiences. I hope that maybe one day, Saint Mary’s can also have a food pantry of its own. Although I was unable to watch St. Mary’s group present, I know they did a great job telling the audience all the events our small but mighty group put together. The experience of the Kansas Hunger Dialogue was very valuable with all the information we received while we were there.

James Pulliam

I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Kansas Hunger Dialogue yesterday. The experience was one of kind, and definitely unforgettable. Not only was I exposed to brilliant concepts and suggestions that will help improve life here at The University of Saint Mary, but I got to meet like minded people who strive to make different communities and turn the world  into a better place. Most importantly, I was given the opportunity to strengthen the bonds with several of the people here on campus that I am blessed enough to call friends. The 2015 KHD had a refreshing mix of activities — random dancing, interesting information, stimulating conversations, friendly people, good food, and even a food packaging event similar to our Feed the Need event first semester. I highly recommend that people take advantage of the opportunity to attend the next Kansas Hunger Dialogue; every second is worth it! 

Celebrate with the Sisters

Join us in celebrating the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth as we honor the Year of Consecrated life in a special way this week.  Click here to see what’s happening this week.

To learn more about life as a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth today, visit the Future of Charity blog.  Also, check out Catholic Volunteer Network’s video “From Service to Sisterhood” featuring SCL candidate Mallorie Gerwitz.

Peace and Justice Resources for Lent

ACCU Peace and Justice

Are you looking for resources to enrich your Lenten journey?  We are pleased to share several resources from our colleagues working for peace and justice:

-The Justice for Immigrants Campaign has produced a toolkit entitled Immigration Reform: Your Lenten Promise, inviting you to pray, fast, learn, give and advocate for just and humane immigration reform, in solidarity with immigrants and refugees.

-Focusing on climate change during Lent?  In anticipation of Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on care for creation and the environment, Ignatian Solidarity Network has released Renewing the Face of the Earth, a Lenten reflection series on protecting God’s creation and fighting climate change.  Sign up for daily updates on the website!  In addition, the Global Catholic Climate Movement has organized a fast for climate justice during Lent 2015.  Catholics from more than 45 countries will fast from food or activities that produce carbon dioxide during each of the 40 days…

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Humble and Contrite Hearts

Lord, as we begin our Lenten journey with you,
we recall what you desire: a humble and contrite heart.

You don’t desire our bank accounts;
you don’t quantify our popularity;
you don’t hope for our job titles;
you don’t seek out our righteous ideologies;
you don’t long to see how pretty or handsome we are.

You desire only where our hearts are; and the rest will follow.

And you do not desire a perfect heart, but a heart broken and wounded.
A heart of hope and a heart of sorrow.
Give us these hearts, O God.
Give us hearts that are unafraid.
Give us hearts that lead us where others fear to go.
Give us hearts that listen humbly and burn with a passion for justice.
Give us humble and contrite hearts.