spring break service groupFor the 26th year, Saint Joseph’s College launches several student groups into Spring Break Workfest across the country. Spring Break Workfest offers students the opportunity to travel as a group and serve others; as the season of Lent encourages renewed focus on “almsgiving,” or assistance of those in need, the frequent coincidence of the two is fortuitous. According to Kathryn Cody, Social Justice & Leadership Coordinator, “Donating material or time to those in need and performing other acts of love, is exactly what Spring Break Workfest is all about.”

This year students will travel to:

  • Corbin, Kentucky to work on home building and repair with the Christian Appalachia Project,
  • Westchester County, New York, to work on the construction of safe and affordable housing with Habitat for Humanity,
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico, to work in the Santa Fe community and immerse in the Navajo culture of the region,
  • New Orleans, Louisiana, where we will participate in a variety of community service projects through Camp Restore.

While the Saint Joseph’s College Spring Workfest destinations vary from year to year, this tradition continues to be a transformative and eye-opening experience for many students. Kathryn Cody explained, “Students are challenged to look beyond themselves and the world they know and build relationships with others, face the harsh realities of the poor and marginalized, and stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers throughout the country. They do so through the support of one another, and through the leadership of their peers. Along with daily work and service, students also make time each day to come together in prayer and reflection, processing with one another while they continue to work towards the common good.” More information about service trips is available atwww.sjcme.edu/life-and-community/giving-back/service-trips/

spring break service group diggingStudent experiences with service trips can be journeys both physical and spiritual. Michael Sanderl, EdD, Vice President & Chief Sponsorship and Mission Integration Officer at Saint Joseph’s College offered a perspective on journeying and the season of Lent, “Lent provides 40 days of deeper engagement with the elements of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that are at the heart of this season. I am reminded of a book among my resources, Journey to the Center: A Lenten Passage, by Thomas Keating.  The title of the book captivates me; the sense of “journey” resonates and captures the spirit of movement and action throughout Lent. This time invites and guides us more deeply toward the “center” of our life through self-awareness and reflection. It draws us to turn toward others, expressing mercy and compassion with others. It awakens us to the abiding presence of God in our lives. This “journey to the center” can be, therefore, a “passage” or traveling, marking growth, discovery and awareness. We, hopefully, conclude the season of Lent and arrive at Easter changed, moved, and transformed.”

Michael Sanderl assembled some online resources and opportunities for consideration  during your own journey this Lenten season.

A diverse selection of online resources is offered below for reference and use during the Lenten season.

The Saint Joseph’s College Theology Blog provides weekly reflections on Lenten themes by Sr. Marilyn Sunderman, RSM, Theology department Chair and faculty member.

Visit the Sisters of Mercy blog that is updated every Wednesday through Friday throughout Lent.  Links and resources are also available for the Mercy Critical Concerns of Commitment to Nonviolenceand Care for the Earth.

Mercy-ing is a popular .app for Mercy themes.

Sacred Space provides a prayer resource with seasonal reflections and prayers for Lent.

Pray as You Go provides an audio version of the Stations of the Cross.

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities offers links to selected Lenten resources.

The Catholic Health Association provides Lenten reflections and podcasts.

The Diocese of Portland provides Lenten reflections and resources.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has selected the theme of "Give Up, Take Up, Lift Up"for Lent and a Mercy focus on the season.