Simplicity Archive


The Art of Letting Go To Serve In Solidarity

Our first hours in New Orleans were celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, where our service group was welcomed and introduced as the hope of the city. The delightful, lively, and wise Father Anthony expressed his homily through an analogy.

The Duchesne House Group in New Orleans

There once was a monkey at the zoo, which noticed a walnut outside of his cage. He reached through the tight bars. Despite his lack of mobility, the monkey couldn’t bring himself to let go of his prized possession. Hence, the monkey was hindered from experiencing anything else because he was held back through his sole desire to hold on to the walnut. Like the monkey, we had to let go of the distractions in our lives and be fully present.

Before that mass, I was not fully aware of the immense devastation that still is a part of the city since Hurricane Katrina happened. The people of New Orleans were forced to let go of their “walnut.” Nature washed away their homes, communities, and in some cases their loved ones. It was awing to see how grateful individuals were for our presence in the city, specifically at our work site, the home of Larry and Donna Breaux, a couple who have not lived in their home in six years.

Laying vinyl tile, painting trim and doors, cleaning up adhesive, stapling tyvek paper to keep out added moisture was the least we could do. In those productive filled days, I learned about the compassionate people around me as well as the need that still exists in the city for volunteers to return citizens to their homes and communities.

We as a community need to let go of the “walnuts” in our lives in order to serve the people around us and be in solidarity with them.

Stacey Georgopoulos
2015 Graduate
Host Site: Duchsene House, New Orleans LA


The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.



Baking Bread with the Omaha Sustainability Group!

On Saturday night, I visited with one of the groups staying in Omaha to learn about living a more sustainable life. I spent the evening with the group teaching them how to bake home made bread. We made three different types of bread and had a great time. We made an artisan style Rosemary and Olive Oil bread that’s great to eat by itself, with some butter, or with spaghetti (which is how the group used it); we also made a quick chocolate chip banana bread; and we made home made pizza crust to use for dinner on Tuesday night!

This is the second time I’ve worked with the Omaha Sustainability group to bake bread. I always enjoy this opportunity of sharing this skill (and passion) of mine with a group of students. They always seem fascinated with the different types of bread you can make and how relatively easy it is to actually make bread from scratch!

By: Patrick O’Malley


Earth Day Events

Earth Day Events
Wednesday, April 18, 2012

11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Skutt Student Center (or on the mall, weather permitting!)

Giveaways! Shopping bags, eco-friendly pens, and more!
Carpool information from MetrO! Rideshare and MAPA
Vote for the Campus Tree of the Year and learn about Creighton’s quest to become an arboretum
Drop off your old and unused pens for recycling
Echo Lighting’s display of LED and other energy-saving light bulbs
Information on recycling at Creighton including a display of recyclable items
The world-famous popcorn machine
Clothing drive
Facilities Management’s own electric truck and GEM Car

9:00 am – 9:30 am
Garry Ruliffson, OPPD’s Energy Advisor, will talk about “Energy Savings In Your Future” — how to save energy here and at home.
Skutt Student Center (Room 104)

9:30 am
Robert Byrnes, Nebraska’s Mr. Energy, will present at this time. This article will give you much more information but know that Mr Byrnes has developed the technology on his farm to essentially be off the energy grid. He generates electricity and fuel to conduct his daily life and enterprises.
Skutt Student Center (Room 104)

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Attend the last Green Bag Lunch and Learn Series as students present on: “Climate Refugees: A Humanitarian Cause”
Harper Center (Room 2060)

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm
GreenJays Bike Ride
(meet in Deglman circle for a casual ride to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge)

5:30 pm
Earth Day Prayer
The Campus Ministry Interns will lead a Prayer Service honoring and praying for all of God’s created world.
Where:  Jesuit Gardens (Rain location:  St. John’s Church)


A Glimpse Into a Service Trip

By: Tori Mierkey~ Fall Break Service Trip Participant to South Omaha (Pixan Ixim and OneWorld)

Service trips encompass so many different experiences that it is hard to sum it up with this short video, but if someone asked me why I thought they should go on a service trip, I feel all they would need is a glimpse into a trip and they’d want to go. This video shows pictures from Pixan Ixim where I went for my Fall Break 2011 Service Trip. The community was so gracious, the feeling of accomplishment felt amazing, and I got to do it alongside my peers who became my friends.

To learn more about Service and Justice Trips:
-read a description on the seven pillars
-check out the map of the community host partners for 2012
-read more student reflections
-check out the trip pictures!


How do we prepare our students?

By Kelly Orbik, CCSJ Assistant DirectorStudents must 1st discern that they want to offer themselves this experience. They apply, read “In the Service of Life,” interview with student peers, pay the cost of the trips, come to 3 preparation meetings, and come to a missioning service the night before. The day they leave they take a quick picture, pray 1 more time and depart to be formed by our wonderful host site partners.Our Service Trips Program has 7 pillars: Service, Justice, Solidarity, Simplicity, Sustainability, Community and Reflection. Students are invited to watch video clips, listen to audio files, present to each other and then in small groups begin conversations on these topics. We talk about why these are priorities on our office and why we choose to work with partners who can share their strengths and challenges when working with poverty, migration, sustainability and peace.

For one of our General Meeting topics, Alice Smith reflected with our students about going “empty” and open to the experience of “going to a new culture and community”. She used the Chinese Legend of “The Empty Pot” to talk about being honest with ourselves, about weeding out the parts of us that will not help us to be present to each other on these trips.

Last night we used a Hopi Prayer and Downward Solidarity Reflection by Dean Brackley, SJ for our missioning. Allison and Rob Kinney-Walker shared their reflections with our group. They wanted to be considered for the Service Trips Hall of Fame. Between them they have been on 10 service trips with CCSJ, coordinating 8 of those and then hosting one trip when they were volunteering in Chicago! Allison graduated A&S ’06 and Werner Institute in ’09 Rob graduated A&S ’06 and is a current Law Student. They shared about thinking critically, learning from our hosts, building relationships and trying to bring their experience back. Fr. Ross Romero, SJ and many others blessed and prayed with our groups preparing for their departures.

This weekend we sent our 19 groups off on their service trips!

Embrace Being Alone

written by: Bill Kusek, North Omaha co-coordinator & member of Service and Justice Associates

Embrace being alone. What a foreign concept. When my friends are late for our usual lunchtime in the dining halls, I get a little panicky. We avoid it at all costs. The thought at not having a conversation to fill the silence is uncomfortable. Even when alone it is easy to cover up that sense of aloneness with the artificial company of a cell phone or Facebook. Always constant interaction (no matter how impersonal) from someone, anyone. What can we gain from a quick bout of silence?
Introspection. It is easy to drown out yourself while interacting with other people. Why not just spend some time thinking or sitting and doing nothing. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn encourages us to experience “aimlessness.” This is the act of not pursuing anything because everything is already present within yourself. Present within yourself.

Embrace yourself. You have to do this before you can embrace anyone around you. So take some time to get to know you. You can never get to know a friend on a personal level if you only interact with him or her in a group. How should you expect to know yourself if you never have one on one time? It can be amazing at how little we know about us. Example: have you ever been surprised by the sound of a recording of your own voice? There is nobody else on earth who has heard your voice as much as you have, yet it can sound so foreign. Take the time to become comfortable with yourself. Become familiar with how you feel, think, act.Dare to be alone. Defy society and be perfectly fine with the company of yourself.

“If you are happy in your head then solitude is blessed” -Tanya Davis