The Catholic University of America

May 14, 2007

CUA Students Embark on Service Trips

Several Students Head to Gulf Region to Assist in Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

This summer, instead of sunning on the beach or working for pay, a number of Catholic University students will complete community service projects.

From May 14 to May 23, 16 students and faculty from the Legal Services Society of CUA'S Columbus School of Law will be in Biloxi, Miss., to help with Hurricane Katrina legal relief efforts. This is the first trip of this nature for the law school, according to Hilary Bednarz, pro bono coordinator for the law school. Bednarz and Suzette Malveaux, associate professor of law, will accompany students on the trip where they will work with the Mississippi Center for Justice, a non-profit aimed at promoting racial and economic equality. They will provide legal services, such as client interviews and researching garnishment actions. Students also will work with Hands On, a volunteer organization, and possibly Habitat for Humanity to perform more traditional community service.

"Participating in pro bono and community service work allows students to see first-hand how their assistance can help individuals and will enable the law school to better fulfill its mission of service. The Gulf Region is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina and by assisting with civil legal service and community efforts our students will truly make a difference," Bednarz said.

Also working on Hurricane Katrina relief is a group of 12 students and two staff members from CUA's Office of Campus Ministry. On May 13, they traveled to New Orleans to work for 10 days with the Operation Helping Hands program coordinated by Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Students will be gutting homes - in preparation for rebuilding - for those who can't afford to do it themselves. This is the second Katrina relief trip for Campus Ministry.

On May 15, 14 CUA students will travel to Belize with two Campus Ministry staff members to complete a two-week mission trip. The next day, an equal number of students and staff will embark on a mission trip to Honduras. Both sets of students spent a semester preparing for the trips by taking a religion class, which ended with a campus visit by officials from the Belizean and Honduran embassies. Students will work with parishes, schools and the poor.

Students entering the priesthood or religious life and students embarking on at least one year of service were recognized at the Baccaulaureate Mass.

Other students are making longer commitments to service all around the world. More than 15 graduating students have committed to at least one year of service after receiving their diplomas. Projects range from Inner City Teaching Corps in Chicago to the Peace Corps in West Africa and Latin America. Together with about 10 students who are entering the priesthood or religious life, they were recognized at the traditional Baccalaureate Mass held May 11 in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

"Our students are exposed to the poor in Washington, D.C., and they just feel the call to spend a year or two years helping others full-time. When you get to live and be a part of another community, that's the real gift," says Emmjolee Mendoza, associate campus minister for community service.

More information about these summer service projects can be found on the law school ( and campus ministry ( Web sites.

-By Lisa Carroll, Office of Public Affairs