By hosting events with partner organizations and adding opportunities to reflect and connect, the Office of Mission Integration and Ministry is working to help students, faculty, and staff find community on and off campus. The office’s expanding programs draw people who come from many faith backgrounds as well as those who come to their values from outside of religious faith.
“We do these events not only to amplify the mission but to also get different people across the University together—faculty, staff, students, alumni. We hope that it’s a very intergenerational thing,” said Robert Parmach, director of Ignatian mission and ministry at Fordham.
All of these programs are rooted in a tradition of balancing reflection and action developed by St. Ignatius Loyola, the 16th-century founder of the Society of Jesus, Parmach said. For example, on Nov. 16, about a dozen students and a few staff members gathered for a clothing sorting activity held at Xavier Mission, a Manhattan organization that provides services for those in need across New York City.
“We partnered with Xavier because there’s a real need for clothing for infants and toddlers, refugees, immigrants, and those who are experiencing homelessness right now,” Parmach said.
For Devany Kurtti, a sophomore at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, working with Xavier Mission was a chance to help members of the New York City community.
“It’s getting colder and so many people don’t have access to shelters,” Kurtti said. “I’ve always watched my parents and church help serve others. I know if I was having difficulties and didn’t have the resources I do, I would want someone to help.”
The event brought together a wide range of community members, including undergraduate and graduate students, and even alumni like Roxanne De La Torre, FCRH ’09, GRE ’11, who is the director of outreach at Xavier Mission.
More Creative and Expansive Offerings
Parmach said that Fordham has also expanded its retreat options to help more members of the community take time for reflection, especially if they can’t go away for a more “traditional” multi-day retreat.
“We’re having one-hour retreats for busy people, and we’re getting really good turnouts there,” he said.
One recent retreat was a “paint and reflect,” where more than 30 students came to have pizza, talk, and create paintings. In addition, Parmach noted that they’re also doing “10-second reflections” around campus to connect with students quickly and increase the office’s visibility.
“The student that’s running to class, they come, they have a quick cup of coffee or hot chocolate or candy. They have a reflection prompt that they contribute to [by writing] on a poster,” he said. “And we’ve [reached] hundreds of students at these things.”
Erin Hoffman, director of campus ministry for Lincoln Center, said that the office is also planning to add to its interfaith programming, which includes an annual interfaith prayer ceremony and picnic, and Faith Fest, a new event last year.
“Fordham’s a place where faith matters, and we want students of all backgrounds to have opportunities to grow in their faith and form community with others while they’re here,” she said.
Additional reporting by Franco Giacomarra.