Tag Archives: service

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! 

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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.

Christmas in the Prison

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When the Christmas season arrived I wondered how I would “celebrate” this season behind the walls of Kansas State Penitentiary (New Lansing Correctional facility). I was assigned there as a Catholic chaplain in July of 1970. I had read articles telling how some people experienced depression during this time of joy and hope. Surely prison would bring a sense of loss and isolation.

Little did I know that early in November our prison Christmas season would begin with a visit from the Salvation Army staff. With them would come colorful catalogs of age-appropriate toys and gifts. Each inmate could select two gifts (sports equipment, dolls, books, games, etc.) for each of his children. These gifts would be wrapped, tagged with names (to and from) and delivered to the prison in early December when Christmas visits began.

Inside the prison chapel, the Beacon of Hope choir practiced their carols and hymns.  Also the chapel was presented with Christmas cards from Hallmark. The selection included the “Ebony” line for families of color.

The highlight of the season came at Christmas Eve Mass. A group of Sisters of Charity were invited to come and bring a selection of candies.  Mass was celebrated with Father John Stitz and Protestant Chaplain Jim Post on the altar. After Mass the inmates served coffee and cheese snacks appropriated from the prison dining hall.

I left the walls feeling that a new “Nativity” was experienced by all of us, prisoners and guests.

Ed Simons, SCLA

Lansing, Kansas

Les pwa fe viv! Hope makes us live!

In this time of Advent, I find myself reflecting on its meaning and the hope that this season brings. Advent is the time spent when we as Christians prepare ourselves for the birth or coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. During Advent, we have the opportunity to not only wait for our Savior’s arrival, but to also actively prepare ourselves and our homes for this amazing event. December can be such a dark time of year so many individuals celebrate the season with candles and lights. How do we prepare for the season? How do we bring light and hope to those in great need? Finally, I ask myself, why is hope so important?

As a physical therapist, I often ponder how we bring hope and inspiration to those with injuries, broken bodies, changed lives, and troubled souls. How do we work with family members as well? Physical therapists help patients see new possibilities for their lives when no future is initially seen. We help prepare patients with new strategies for greater participation in their communities.

One of the most graphic memories I have of preparing patients for a new life or an Advent of a different sort, was when I first served in Haiti just after the killer earthquake of 2010. At the tent hospital in Jimaní, Dominican Republic, we worked long hours with patients from Haiti who had lost everything. Some had lost limbs, others lost bodily movement due to spinal cord injuries sustained in the earthquake, and others were dealing with multiple traumas of mind, body, and spirit. Many patients were facing the unknown.

Our job as therapists was to improve our patients’ mobility despite the external fixators patching fractured bones together or bandages covering wounds visible or not. Each patient we worked with was frightened and facing an unknown future.  As director of the international rehab team at the hospital, my rehab team moved from bed to bed working with patients building a connection of trust and a promise for a future none of us could clearly see. Yet, we had to trust – trust in goodness and the possibilities of what might occur. We did this by building what I call COMILIA. Comilia is that relationship that develops when we engage goodness in our work as educators, consultants, administrators, researchers, and everyday people. Seeking comilia happens when we engage in a community with reciprocity. Here we move beyond being strangers, visitors, guests, or helpers into the sacred space of caring, deep caring. . .

My last night in the tent hospital during the final rounds was a bittersweet time. In the morning many of my patients were to be discharged to the refugee camps on the Haitian side of the border. I was to head back to Santo Domingo and eventually back to the United States. My patients gave me a blessing and told me my suitcase would be extremely heavy when I returned home because I would be carrying home the hearts and souls of all my patients. They told me my heart would also feel heavy because they were taking a piece of my heart and soul with them. We would be eternally connected through our time together at the hospital. I had made their life brighter through our physical therapy treatments my patients told me.

That is the essence of comilia – preparing for something new and good. Building comilia is how we prepare ourselves and our communities this Advent season for the possibilities of something new and better. I believe Advent is a time we should cherish every day and not just during the designated time in the liturgical calendar. It is a time where we reflect on our God given gifts and talents. We may even reflect on what we were born to do and how we will do it as part of the body of Christ. When we take time to see the broader picture, we may even appreciate how our gifts and talents bring hope to those in need. We don’t have to be a physical therapist in a faraway country to bring hope to others. It is something we can all do anywhere. We must simply live and build comilia! The Haitians say, “Piti piti plen kay,” which means “a little light fills the whole house.” Advent is a time when we are called to bring light and hope to those in need as we wait for the birth of our Savior. It is this gift of hope and a promise for a future of new possibilities that makes us live!

Les pwa fe viv!

Reflection by Sue Klappa, PT, Ph.D., Curriculum Chair for the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program 

Wake Up the World!

Happy New Year!  When I taught at Xavier Elementary School, I stood in the hallways the Monday after the last Sunday of Ordinary Time all decked out with my New Year’s Eve hat and noisemaker, shouting Happy New Year! The students always got a kick out of it! Their initial reactions of amusement and confusion changed as it dawned on them that yes, in fact, the first day of Advent is the beginning of the Catholic Church’s New Year, not January 1.

Pope Francis has dedicated this church year as “The Year of Consecrated Life” in order to recognize the service provided to the world by those who live a consecrated life including Catholic sisters, nuns, priests, and brothers.   The theme for the year is “Wake Up the World!” As a religious sister, I think this is a fitting theme for all Christians. As Christians we are called to start waking up to Jesus’ presence in each other and our world in preparation for His birth at Christmas.

I have already seen many examples in this past month as the USM community wakes up to the needs of others locally and internationally: listening to Alma Habib’s talk about Syrian Refugees and donating winter clothing items, serving at the Kansas City, Kansas food kitchen and our Leavenworth Community Meal, and packaging food for Ebola crisis centers in Liberia at our Feed the Need event.  As we continue to wake up to Christ’s presence, others will be called to do the same.

Reflection by S. Rejane Cytacki, Assistant Campus Minister