FROM THE PRESIDENT
SPRING BREAK 2018: Companions
on the Journey
uring spring break 2018, I had the privilege of accompanying 13 of our students and Molly Sova, a colleague, to Amigos for Christ in Nicaragua. It was my fifth service immersion trip since coming to Rockhurst in 2006. We intentionally call these experiences service immersion trips. The University conducts over 10 such trips throughout each year. Most are international ventures. The format for each is similar: manual labor; experiences with local culture; social and political history background; prayer; and lots of reflection. Folks depart with a focus on being men and women FOR others. They return with the understanding of being men and women WITH others. Our trips are not mission trips. We do not send students, faculty, and staff to proselytize or to convert others. Instead, we are about Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J., engagement. It’s intentional and consistent with President, Rockhurst University our identity and way of proceeding as a Jesuit institution of higher learning. And, while great work is accomplished on these excursions, it’s much more than helping to build bridges or schools, dig trenches for water lines, conduct instruction, or provide medical services, just to name a few. It’s all about accompaniment – being companions on the journey. Throughout each service immersion trip there is ample opportunity to work alongside members of the local community. This calls for being fully present to the experience, including the opportunity to learn a few phrases in another language. This whole process reflects a small taste of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola: experiencing God who offers his love and companionship. The theological notion for this is God’s providence. More than anything else, Ignatius considered himself a pilgrim who accompanies another. He modeled his behavior upon the example of Jesus Christ who always started with accompaniment, welcome and hospitality. Jesus immersed himself into people’s lives first. He did not begin with the rules; he first offered hospitality. Think of the familiar Gospel stories that illustrate this – Zacchaeus, the centurion, the woman at the well, and his walking with disciples to Emmaus. Intentionally, we call our trips service immersion experiences. The outcome is mutual transformation. And, I can attest to these conversions being real and substantial. Our service immersion trips assist us in becoming companions on the journey – men and women for and with others.
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