The very year the Society of Jesus was founded – 1540 – its members opened a soup kitchen in a church provided for their use by Pope Paul III, the Madonna dellaLEARN MORE ABOUT THE JESUIT TRADITION Strada Chapel. It was there that they fed and ministered to members of the local community, beginning a tradition of service and a commitment to social justice that has characterized the order for the past five centuries.
On Saturday, Sept. 21, approximately 90 members of the Le Moyne community built upon this legacy as they participated in Dolphins Dive into Service, a campus-wide day of volunteering.
“We’re all called to leave our desks and give a piece of our hearts to the poor and needy, tapping into the lives of people who struggle, meeting them, engaging with them,” said Campus Minister Bill Dolan, S.J., principal organizer of the event. “My hope is that this will help to deepen our students’ awareness of society’s least-advantaged people and impress upon them how important it is to lift up our fellow man.”
During the day, members of the Le Moyne community assisted a wide variety of organizations – including the Interreligious Food Consortium, Franciscan Church of the Assumption, Emmaus Ministries, L’Arche Communities of Syracuse, All Saints Parish, St. Lucy’s, Christ the King Retreat House and the Rescue Mission – by preparing meals, sorting supplies and painting, among other tasks. They will also aid in an end of summer cleanup at Schiller Park.
Father Dolan said that the primary goal of the event was to promote a culture of service among Le Moyne students by allowing them to work for agencies whose central mission is to help the poor and disenfranchised. During the 2012-13 academic year, Le Moyne students performed more than 27,000 hours of service, helping Syracuse residents file their tax returns; rebuilding storm-damaged homes in New Orleans; caring for the sick in Ghana; and teaching English to children in Ecuador.
Since his election in March of 2012, Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pontiff, has called upon Catholics around the world to serve those in need, writing via Twitter that, “The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty.”
Father Dolan’s hope is to continue to build upon that spirit.
“That is our mission,” he said. “Helping souls.”