Interfaith Week


Interfaith Week is a University Ministry sponsored program that explores different religions  and their approach to creation and responsibility of taking care of the earth.  The week commences with a retreat to the St. Agnes Spiritual Life Center on Saturday April 6th.  (To join sign up at the University Ministry Office.)

April 6th, 10 am – 4 pm
Interfaith Retreat, St. Agnes Spiritual Life Center

April 8th,  6:30-8:30 pm
Film Showing of Koran by Heart, Gleeson Library Rare Books Room

April 9th, 11:45-12:45 pm
Sikh Awareness Day, Kalmanavitz Hall

April 9th, 5:30-7 pm
Interfaith Dinner,  University Ministry

April 10th, 7-8:15 pm
Interfaith Prayer Service, Maraschi Room

April 11th, 11:45-12:45 pm
Interfaith Lunch: “Spiritual but not Religious”, Romero Room

April 12th, 11-2 pm
Clothing Swap: 2nd Annual “A Sacred Exchange”, UC 1st Floor

All are welcome to attend and we look forward to seeing you there!


L’Arche Immersion


The essence of our communities is this ‘living with.’ We are called, certainly, to serve with all our ability and to help those who are weaker to develop, but the foundation of this helping is found in friendship and the communion of hearts, which allows us all to grow.

– Jean Vanier, L’Arche founder

L’Arche Program was founded in 1964 by Canadian-born Jean Vanier, in France.  Its purpose was to create a community in which people with and without intellectual disabilities grew together.  L’Arche has become an international organization with 140 members communities in 36 different countries.

In the United States there are 18 independent communities.  These communities provide a home for people with developmental disabilities where they can feel comfortable and secure while simultaneously allowing them to become independent and  encouraging them to explore their talents.

During winter intersession, a group from USF’s University Ministry department travelled to the L’Arche Tahoma Hope Community in Tacoma, Washington for an immersion experience.  They were welcomed with open arms into the community and participated in all the activities members of the L’Arche community regularly do.  The Tacoma community is unique, as they have a farm that is a central community space for members of many different communities to come work together. The Farm’s motto is, “growing people, growing plants.”  They have an employment program, called Farm & Gardens where members of the community grow and sell plants and crafts.  The program’s goal is to support purposeful work for people with developmental disabilities and foster a spirit of caring for land and people.  In their week stay USF members interacted with the community by assisting in the farm.


One of the USF participants was Christina Solitaria, a sophomore student, and below she reflects on her experience:

“The week before Spring semester started Lauryn (Sophomore), Heather (Resident Minister), Ana (UM Office Manager), and Fr. Roger SJ (Director for Retreats) I was excited to immerse in another community. In the past, I have lived in communities outside of the country or participated in communities with members who originated in a place outside of the United States, and I was eager to learn about the L’Arche community in Tacoma, especially form relationships with the members. At the same time I did not know what to expect. I did not have much experience interacting with people with developmental disabilities, the core members. I was nervous because, like entering into any new community, I did not want to say anything or do anything that would offend members of the community with developmental disabilities or the assistants.

One of the first people we met was Nancy. She was incredibly easy to talk to because of her great sense of humor. I learned that she loves art, especially drawing. Her drawings hung all around the house from which I learned a lot from. She loves color, and I definitely noticed that her personality is just that- colorful. She was always smiling when I saw her, she lovingly taught us how to use sign language, and was so patient when we were trying to comprehend her signing. I did not notice any part of her personality that was dull and not full of life. The L’Arche community as a whole was full of life.

We were able to participate in the daily “check in” before going to work on the farm with the core members and assistants. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to share that part of the day with them. It is a time for everyone to let go of what is bothering them, to express how their night was and how they are feeling that morning. This was the most candid and accepting space I have been invited to. The core members and the assistants were fully themselves when they shared what was on their mind; they included each of us USF members as part of their own community. Because I felt their genuine love, I also felt that I could share honestly how I was feeling without being judged. I was so grateful and appreciative for this welcome and acceptance.”

L’Arche is an amazing program that unites different people to create a beautiful accepting environment for all.  There should be many more organizations with similar goals and objectives!



A view of the farm at L’arche Tahoma Hope Community. 


Global Women’s Rights Forum

global_wrf_bannerWEDNESDAY, March 6, 7:00-9:00 MARASCHI ROOM

Sisters in Spirit: An Inter-faith Dialogue on Community, Faith and Social Transformation

Co-sponsored with University Ministry

Moderator: Lauryn Gregorio, B.A. Student Majoring in Theology and Religious Studies

How do women’s spiritual or religious perspectives inform, inspire and guide their work for social justice in their communities and in the world? Join four remarkable women, representing various spiritual faiths and traditions, as they engage in dialogue about the relationship between community, faith, and social transformation.

Toni Battle is the founder of The Legacy Project, a culture enrichment program, which celebrates the culture, tradition and histories of African American and Native American youth based in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunter’s Point. She specializes in diversity, cultural dynamics, healing from historical harms, cultural education, race relations, and intra-racial prejudice. She has certification in diversity dynamics from National Multicultural Institute (NMCI), specializing in cross-cultural dynamics/communication, sustained mediation dialogue, developing diversity initiatives, and diversity design & implementation, creating diversity councils, and recruiting and retaining a diverse workgroup and certification in LGBT Training from Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Social Justice Mediation from Association for Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Karen Erlichman is a core faculty member in the Spiritual Guidance Program at Sofia University in Palo Alto, CA, as well as an adjunct faculty member at the Starr King School for the Ministry and the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts and Interfaith Ministries. Karen is passionate about creating diverse and welcoming spaces for exploring identity, spirituality and community.

Bhawana Kamil is the current president of the Muslim American Society (Bay Area Chapter), and serves as a Board Member on the Interfaith Council for Economics and Justice (ICEJ) for the County of Santa Clara. In addition, she is a member of Steering Committee for California Interfaith Power and Light (CIPL). Bhawana currently teaches Philosophy at Evergreen Valley College.

Mary Waskowiak, RSM has a long history in Catholic leadership and social justice work nationally and internationally. She is currently the director of development for the Mercy International Association. She is a past president of the Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR), and past president of the Institute of the Mercy Sisters of the Americas.

For information on the Global Women’s Rights Forum, please visit

Kairos Retreat & Fourth Day Retreat, April 5th-7th


The Kairos Retreat is based on Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  The Kairos Weekend is a time to explore one’s sense of self and of one’s relationships.  The retreat is a time to grow, connect and transform by reflecting on one’s identity.  It strengthens the relationship with God as well as assist with the question of love, brokenness and healing and how to live after Kairos.

The Retreat is held April 5th through April 7th and led by previous Kairos participants.

Sign up here!

Fourth Day Retreat

The Fourth Day Retreat is an opportunity for junior and senior students who have previously attended Kairos to experience a deeper understanding of the Kairos themes. Students will reflect on awakening the spirit of the Fourth Day and making the most of their remaining semesters at USF.

Please come sign up for this wonderful experience!

Sign up here!


Jesuit Volunteer Corps Information Session & Panel

Graduation is getting closer and closer! Don’t know what you’ll do? Come find out about JVC!


Thursday, February 28th | 11:45am-12:45pm | University Ministry Office

Consider serving a year or two with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps after graduating!

The Jesuit Volunteer Corps offers the opportunity to serve marginalized communities in 39 locations domestically and 6 internationally. Jesuit Volunteers work full-time for social service agencies, schools, parishes, health clinics, legal clinics, and more. Through JVC, volunteers are immersed in and strive to live out four values: spiritual growth, simple living, community with other JVs and those they serve, and the pursuit of social justice.

University Ministry will be hosting an information session/panel with a JVC staff member and several Former Jesuit Volunteers to give you more information and answer your questions about being a JV!

The deadline to apply for JVC is March 12. Visit the JVC website to find out more and submit and application!

April Action 2013!

Do you have a passion for the environment and or social justice? Then join us on April 13th from 7:30am to 12:00pm for our annual April Action day of service event. Every year for this environmentally themed service event, USF faculty, staff, and students work at several sites in the Bay Area to provide urban community gardening, cleanup, planting, and beautification services. In addition to April Action, the USF community will have the opportunity not only to partake in service activities, but also to choose to participate in a one-day immersion. The one-day immersion will focus on seeing San Francisco through the perspectives of the underrepresented communities. This year’s April Action will provide the USF community with opportunities of service and knowledge that enrich individual’s advancement in creating a more humane, just, and green world. April Action will take place this year on Saturday April 13, 2013 from 7:30am to 12:00pm.


To sign up, visit


Hey there Dons,
Don’t miss out on the XALT programs starting this Tuesday on February 19th. XALT is an opportunity to engage in contemporary Christian music with silent prayer, reflection, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The XALT program takes place twice a year and invites guest speakers to share their reflections on a number of spiritual topics.

Dates: 2/19, 2/26, 3/5, 3/19, 3/26.

Time: 5:30pm at St. Ignatius Church

Hope to see you there!


Coffee by Erasmus



USF Erasmus Class Fundraiser – Buy Bicycle Coffee in 2013!

For the past 20 years, the Erasmus Community at USF has been challenging students to analyze the political, social, and economic factors contributing to the continued oppression of marginalized people. This year, students in an Erasmus course at USF explore these issues through philosophical texts, as well as internship opportunities in local nonprofit organizations.  Erasmus students finish their studies by going to Cambodia for a two week long immersion trip.  They apply theories from class discussions and literature to look at the work of NGOs and local grass-root movements with a more critical lens.

Apart from their in-class studies, students also learn about marginalized people in their community by doing service at non-profit organizations in the Bay Area.  Students volunteer at places such as St. Anthony’s Foundation, Project Open Hand,, and Food and Water Watch.  These organizations deal with a wide range of social issues from protecting the environment to providing food, educational and employment opportunities for marginalized people in the Bay Area.  The hands on experiences allow Erasmus students to explain the connections between local poverty and global poverty.

Currently, Erasmus students are working with a local Bay Area organization, Bicycle Coffee, to help fund their trip abroad to Cambodia. Bicycle Coffee only buys their coffee from farm cooperatives in South America, making their collaboration with Erasmus more significant for students to better understand the relationships between those of different economic backgrounds.

The history of coffee is a turbulent one where the elite minority owned land plots and coffee workers were paid meager wages.  Although there have been many land reforms in Latin American countries, where land has been given to small farmers, these farmers still suffer because of the fluidity of the price of coffee.  Farm cooperatives are more successful because farmers rely on each other and receive adequate prices from their buyers.

Bicycle Coffee is doing great work in selling South American cooperative coffee.  Erasmus students are proud to be working with Bicycle Coffee to fund their trip to Cambodia, a country where people live similarly to those in coffee supported countries.

If you are interested in purchasing coffee to assist the Erasmus Community in fund-raising for their educational trip feel free to email Erasmus Professor Michael W. Duffy at:

Thank You!

Nina’s Interview on Casa Bayanihan

Casa, Lauryn

What is the Casa Bayanihan program? Drop by University Ministry (or email to learn more!

Casa Bayanihan is a study abroad program in which students from different colleges throughout the country travel to the Philippines to study at the Ateneo University and immerse themselves in a world completely different from the one they know. Three days out of the school week, students take classes at the University. The other two they spend getting to know families in small communities called “praxis sites.” The knowledge these students gain from their classes, combined with the wisdom gained from their interactions at the praxis sites helps them form strong bonds with each other and the families – becoming an unbreakable community. 

Lauryn Gregorio, a current sophomore at USF, participated in Casa Bayanihan in the spring of her Freshman year, 2012. Below, Lauryn talks about her semester-long journey in the Philippines and how it impacted her worldview.

Nina Ragonese: Choosing to go to a third world country to study abroad is definitely a tough decision to make when you have so many other options. How did you know that going to the Philippines would be right for you?

Lauryn Gregorio: That’s a really good question.  I came to USF wanting an education that allowed me to engage the world in some way, engage in what’s really going on. And that’s part of why I came to USF; social justice is a big thing here. I had the desire to immerse myself in what’s going on in the world through my education. Freshman year I heard about the opportunity to go to the Philippines and it seemed like the program was exactly what I was looking for. It was described as having a strong sense of community, spirituality, and genuine contact with people who are living in poverty in third world countries. It wasn’t a totally rational decision but it just felt right.

Nina: On the academic side of the program, how did the classes work out with your major, and is the program directed only towards specific majors?

Lauryn: People of any major can go. The classes are all focused on various aspects of the reality of the Philippines and the lives of the people in our Praxis sites. I took a class in Philippine politics, a class in Gender and Women’s Empowerment. There was also a language class, which was helpful to learn how to communicate in Tagalog a bit. The final class was a Theology class on Suffering, Solidarity, and God that allowed me to reflect on what was moving in my heart during my time there. We discussed how we confront the reality of the world in community, faith, and hope. I’m a Theology/Religious Studies major but there were some students who were Business majors who got classes to count for core classes or electives. But even if not all the classes count toward a major this program is such a learning experience that can’t really be measured by transcripts or grades.

Nina: I’m sure you learned a lot during your time there. If it’s possible, could you briefly describe yourself before and after Casa?

Lauryn: Something we talked about in our Theology and Philosophy class is vocation, discernment, and how it’s really a process to decide what we are called to give our lives to. It’s a culmination of my hopes and dreams but also what makes a claim on me as I get to know what’s going on in the world. I’ve become more relaxed about the whole “figure out what I’m going to do with my life” thing because I’ve realized it’s a process and a lot of it has to do with who I am and what I allow myself to fall in love with. I love that Pedro Arrupe quote – “…fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” I definitely fell in love with the Philippines and the people I knew there but also with this model of accompaniment and looking at the world as something we get to know so we can love it and give whatever we have.

Nina: What is the word tattooed on your wrist?

Lauryn: I actually just got this tattoo on Wednesday. It was the one-year anniversary of the first day of being in the Philippines. The word is Kapwa, and that’s this really beautiful Tagalog word. There isn’t really an English translation because in the United States we’re not really good at Kapwa, which is community, shared identity, and togetherness and the sense that who I am isn’t just who I am – it’s who I am in relation to other people. We are individuals, but we find who we are in the greater context of the community and the world. So this tattoo reminds me every day of how transformative that time was. It’s also how I seek to move forward after Casa. It will motivate everything I do.

Nina: You said we’re not good at Kapwa here in the United States. Is that frustrating for you after having lived in such a strong community for a semester?

Lauryn: Yeah it is. Casa does community really well with the Praxis sites but also community among students and with the teachers, staff members, and directors. I really thrived in that sense of community. I feel like Kapwa, that shared identity, is sort of how we’re meant to be as people and how we come together. So it’s often hard to be back in the US where we’re not really taught how to live in community. We’re taught how to be assertive and chase after our own dreams. But we really need community because often those dreams and ambitions are great, but have to be a response to the world and what’s going on. I feel frustrated sometimes but I do have a lot of hope because I know there are a ton of groups, especially here at USF, working together to build that community. It’s not the same as in Casa but it’s still there.

Nina: An easier question – would you recommend this program to anyone?
Lauryn: Yes. Whoever you are, whatever you’re studying, I don’t care. Just go to Casa. It is a big thing. It’s a commitment and an intense four months so talk to people and make sure it’s a good fit. But people should just know that you could never be 100% sure about going. Part of it is a big risk but part is also saying yes to that unknown.

For more information about Casa Bayanihan, visit the Santa Clara website at or contact Father Mark Ravizza at


Four days a week I walk into room 122 of Lower Phelan Hall. I assume my position at a small desk situated in the back of the office and stare out at a larger than life mural of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Today is a quiet day. Father Donal Godfrey is the first to greet me with a smile that never fails, followed by a friendly welcome from the ever so cheerful Julia Dowd.

This is the University Ministry, where faculty, students, and staff are welcomed to learn more about themselves and their spirituality, among other things. Here, we encourage the USF community to explore their interests concerning Social Justice, Solidarity in Action, Interfaith, Liturgy, Retreats, Resident Ministers, and Spiritual Direction. The University Ministry provides a variety of excellent and enlightening opportunities to be shared and experienced throughout your USF career.

And so, we welcome you, your beliefs, and your curiosity.

A Student Assistant