By: Matt Depietro
On March 26 through 29, Sacred Heart University held its annual Social Justice Week. Various campus organizations held opportunities for community service, open conversations, and other events surrounding the idea of social justice.
“I think that being a part of a Catholic University really calls us, both as individuals and as a whole community, to serve those on the margins of society,” said Campus Minister Devon McCormick.
“We have such a beautiful example of reaching out a hand of mercy and love from Pope Francis, who one of our residence halls is named after – he has provided such a wonderful image of what it means to reach out to the poor, downtrodden, imprisoned, oppressed, disabled, etc.,” she said.
The Gender and Sexuality Alliance, also known as GSA, hosted their event of the week on March 27, in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.
Senior and GSA president Rachel Zacharczyk, provided her message of what she hopes students would take away from the event.
“Be yourself and encourage others to do the same. Be a walking safe haven and you’ll see the change you can make in other people’s lives,” she said.
Within the beliefs of Christianity however, there is some debate around certain interpretations of scripture and the moral teachings of the Church.
“I don’t personally believe in conversion/changing people’s minds about their beliefs. That’d be hypocritical,” said Zacharczyk.
“But, I believe that it is positive to speak our own truth and to be open to conversation in classrooms and beyond to promote inclusivity and encourage dialogue as a means towards understanding and mutual respect,” she said.
McCormick offered her take on the issue of controversy as well.
“In my opinion, the focus should really be on mercy for all, regardless of background,” she said.
“We should be able to sit and have intelligent conversations surrounding the hot button topics of our generation, and respond with love, mercy and compassion, rather than responding with judgment, rules, and condemnation.”
“I really encourage each young person on this campus to educate themselves – familiarize yourself with the ministry of Jesus, and what he stood for. As Pope Francis calls it (The Church), a hospital for sinners instead of a museum for saints,” she said.
Other on campus groups hosted events in the week as well, including La Hispanidad’s unity walk on March 27.
Those who participated in the walk chose ribbons at the end representing different areas of diversity or marginalized groups in society.
For some students, representing various forms of diversity is one way to promote social justice because it is symbolizes the elimination of prejudices.
“It’s about justice in terms of equal opportunity for all people, that all persons are treated equally without any prejudices,” said junior Alex Liete.
As Social Justice Week ends, McCormick encourages students to participate in the pursuit of social justice throughout the year.
“There are so many opportunities for students to work towards a socially just society, both within our surrounding communities, and out in the wider world,” she said.