On April 30, Fordham lauded students who have both given time to charitable causes and who plan to keep doing it after graduation.
The Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice’s Spirit of Service Awards and the University Mission and Ministry’s Postgraduate Service Commissioning drew members of the Class of 2015, their friends, and family to Tognino Hall on the Rose Hill campus. Joseph M. McShane, SJ president of Fordham, offered congratulations.
“You’ve taken to heart what the gospel says, and so you have not just been students; you have been colleagues in mission and companions in ministry for all of us at the University,” he said.
Pope Francis, he noted, has said the church only becomes herself “when she goes out of herself to engage with and encounter the mysteries of pain, suffering, poverty, misery and ignorance.”
Seven graduating students were singled out for their dedication, with a Spirit of Service Award or a Rev. Joseph Currie, SJ Award.
Kelsey Vizzard, a senior environmental policy major, received a Spirit of Service award for her three years of working on behalf of the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment. It was extremely gratifying to work on the project both because it related to her major (her thesis was on environmental justice in the Bronx) and because she got to see tangible results—a community benefits agreement for the project was signed in December 2013.
As a result, living wage jobs, community space, and green construction standards will be part of the armory’s transformation into an indoor skating center. The award means a lot to her, she said, because in addition to working at the center, Vizzard spends her down time there too.
This (Dorothy Day) center, from day one with Urban Plunge, changed my life in a way that makes my own life from before unrecognizable,” she said. “I’m honored to have an award named after Dorothy Day.”
Also honored were the community organization Bronx is Blooming and the Fordham theology department; both organizations are in partnership with the Day center to provide service opportunities.
Bronx is Blooming Executive Director Jennifer Beaugrand said the student volunteers make a “drastic difference” when they come out and plant around the Bronx.
Theology Department Chair J. Patrick Hornbeck, PhD., mentioned key figures within the Society of Jesus to whom social service was fundamental to their faith. One of them, the late Ignacio Ellacuría SJ, rector of Central American University in El Salvador, said a Jesuit University should be “a social project oriented for the common good.”
“What is been so transformative, compelling and powerful about being affiliated with an institution like Fordham, is the fact that education here can never merely be for its own sake,” Hornbeck said. “[It is] education with faith and justice in mind.”