People are in need now, so we need to serve them.
Service is a value that is strongly rooted in all faith traditions and can take a variety of forms. It might include repairing houses, helping at a soup kitchen, or tutoring in under resourced schools. It also might include ministry of presence with someone who yearns for a person to listen to his or her story. On each Service & Justice Trip we try to include some form of meaningful service work that puts students in direct contact with members of their host community. Each community has identified specific needs, and through our trips our hope is to work with community members to meet some of these needs.
For your consideration, read In the Service of Life and Unfinished Houses.
Service and justice are tightly intertwined – often being called the two feet of social change. While service is important to meet the current needs that people may have, it often does not address root causes. Justice is important to change social structures on behalf of the poor and marginalized. Service & Justice Trips are inspired by an influential document from Jesuit General Congregation 32 that talks about the “service of faith of which the promotion of justice is an absolute necessity.” Each of the Service & Justice Trips engages one or more justice issues, from education to health care, to civil rights, to immigration. By the end of our Service & Justice Trips, after completing social analysis, we hope to be able to put some of our ideas into action on behalf of justice to change some of the social systems that are perpetuating an unjust world.
For your consideration, check out Ronald Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing p. 168.
“We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.” -Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ.
Solidarity, as expressed in the encyclical On Social Concern, is “not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people,” but rather “it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good…because we are all really responsible for all.”
For your consideration, listen to Greg Boyle’s CU Commencement Reflection.
Simplicity and sustainability are closely related, with simplicity focusing on an individual lifestyle refraining from over-consumption. Living simply may contribute to a more sustainable future but that may or may not be the intent of the simple living practitioner. Sustainability refers to our ability as a society and a species to sustain our existence over time. If we are going to do this, we need to have large systemic global change and some major lifestyle changes.
Life can get complex. Sometimes we need to strip away some of that complexity in order to remember what is truly important. Focusing on simplicity allows us to reconnect with what is essential. Through simplicity, participants can explore and question how their own lifestyles are connected to and interdependent with the lives of others.
For your consideration, see: The Story of Stuff
Catholic Social Thought teaches that though we are individuals, we are always individual in the context of a community. Each individual is sacred, but so is the community. An African proverb puts it this way: “I am because we are, and we are because I am.” We strive to build positive relationships both within the Creighton group and with the people of the host site. We realize that participants are not simply individuals who experience Service & Justice Trips on their own, but rather that they are persons in a group who can support and challenge one another throughout their experience. We provide participants the opportunity to learn about the dynamics of community and community-building.
For your consideration, see: The Invitation and 100 People.
Reflection is the integrating process that helps make meaning of service and justice experiences by placing them in dialogue with the other parts of our lives. Within the context of Service& Justice Trips, reflection is often as important as the service performed on a given day. Each evening on trips, groups gather for an hour or so to reflect on the day’s experiences. Many participants find this activity to be the most rewarding of the week.