Mercy Students Serve Up Advocacy for Justice
The basic ingredients were perfect: a blend of women and men students from five Mercy colleges and universities in Illinois, Maine, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; high motivation; deep passion for justice.
Mix well with a three-day immersion experience of Mercy Global Action at the United Nations in New York.
Mercy students participants from Carlow University, Georgian Court University, St. Xavier University, Mount Aloysius College, and St. Joseph's College of Maine with workshop faculty Prof. Michael Jones, Mount Aloysius College, Rita Parks rsm, MIA at the UN, Mercy UN intern Devin Tellatin, and Aine O'Connor rsm Mercy Global Action Coordinator at the UN.
The workshop staff – Mercy Global Action Coordinator Áine O’Connor rsm, Professor Michael Jones of Mount Aloysius College in Cresson PA, Rita Parks rsm, and intern Devin Tellatin – each stirred the pot with a variety of experiences to enrich what the students already brought to the mix.The Conference for Mercy Higher Education (CMHE) was the sponsor who made it all possible.
The mantra of the days was the dream of Jesus: “That all may have life – in abundance.” The invitation to enter into a rhythm of action and contemplation served as a reminder that bringing contemplation to action grounds us in the midst of life that can easily become chaotic, and spending time in contemplation renews energy and vitality for returning to action.
A Mercy critique of progress on the emerging UN Sustainable Development Goals offered practical application of the students’ preparatory reading and provided perspective on how the proposed goals might affect persons and communities. Social, political and economic analysis supplied depth to already rich discussions. Students probed beneath the surface to name root causes of injustice in contrast to simply identifying symptoms.
The opening of the UN Forum on Indigenous People added the unique flavor that only the UN experience can provide. After listening to interventions on the floor, the students critiqued what they heard by applying workshop criteria as well as their own insights.
A blending of all elements concluded the experience on the final day with a strong call to the vocation of advocacy in the spirit of Mercy, and a practical application of learnings as student teams developed and critiqued action plans to take back to their institutions.
What did the participants think of this taste of advocacy in an international mix? A sample of their responses provides a flavor:
- This is a wonderful opportunity. I would love to see more students become a part of this program in the future.
- The UN events were amazing.
- There was a seamless blend of advocacy, reflection and vocation – a great stress on the need for both contemplation and action which I really, really appreciate.
- Mercy values and traditions were emphasized! Loved it.
- I need more of this in my life.