The Catholic University of America

June 16, 2014

Service-focused Students Carry on Former President's Legacy

  O'Connell Scholarship recipients include (from left) sophomore Veronica McCarthy, incoming freshman Catherine Ziesmer, junior William Nerney, and senior Joseph McQuarrie.

During his 12-year tenure as president of The Catholic University of America, Bishop David M. O’Connell emphasized a commitment to service. This commitment found expression in the Episcopal motto he chose when he was named bishop of Trenton: “Ministrare non ministrari,” which comes from the Gospel of Mark and means “to serve and not to be served.”

Though Bishop O’Connell left Catholic University in 2010, his legacy lives on at the University because of students like Joseph McQuarrie, a senior from Lawrenceville, N.J., who is majoring in elementary education.

In 2011, McQuarrie was named the first recipient of the University’s Most Reverend David M. O’Connell Service Scholarship, which honors students who embody the bishop’s dedication to service. Awarded every year, the four-year full-tuition scholarship is available for any entering freshman from the Diocese of Trenton.

This fall Catholic University will have scholarship recipients in all four class years.

As a high school student, McQuarrie was active in a service class that planned outreach activities in the school, helped clean up parks, and visited the elderly and those with intellectual disabilities. At CUA, he is a student minister in “The House” run by campus ministry and is involved in community service projects at So Others Might Eat (SOME) and Bethlehem House, a home for adults with intellectual disabilities. McQuarrie also has gone on two mission trips to Jamaica and a border immersion trip to El Paso, Texas.

Being awarded the O’Connell scholarship has greatly affected McQuarrie’s time at CUA, he said.

“It’s kind of set the tone for how I am going to live my life and it puts everything in perspective,” he said. “I’m here for school, but I’m here because of the service and I can’t forget that. This has helped define my life at CUA around service and helping others and that has been the greatest gift.”

Serving others is particularly important for college students, McQuarrie said, so that they learn to focus outward instead of on themselves.

“Your life is meant to be lived for others; that’s such a powerful idea ingrained in our Catholic Faith,” he said. “When you’re young and you have the passion and the energy, that’s the time you should be going out and doing mission trips and helping people. The college era of your life is the perfect time to get involved in service.”

Rising sophomore Veronica McCarthy, a politics major from Manalapan, New Jersey was also awarded the Bishop O’Connell scholarship. As a member of the high school service organization Living in Faith Effectively, she helped plan an event which raised $30,000 for the family of a child with a rare disability.

At CUA, she is involved in the Arabic Club and the International Affairs Association and she regularly participates in the homeless food runs, during which students distribute food and water to local people in need.

“It’s not just about handing out food. A lot of the homeless people really want someone to talk to,” she said.

She believes serving others makes young people less self-centered and makes the world a better place.

“If you have a deep sense of service toward others, you are more humble and that helps out society in the long run,” she said. “If we have a world filled with self-serving people, we’re not going to get very far.”




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