In July, a group of Catholic university presidents traveled to Haiti to see first-hand how CRS works to serve those most in need, especially since the devastating earthquake that struck the country’s capital in 2010. The delegation included Thomas Mengler, president of St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, Texas, Rev. Richard P. Salmi, S.J., president of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, Michael Galligan-Stierle, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) and Mark Brinkmoeller, director of USAID’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives.
In a recent letter to Catholic university presidents and administrators, Michael Galligan-Stierle reflects on the trip and how the partnership between universities and CRS can bring ‘the social mission of the Church to life for faculty, for students, and to the campus as a whole.’
Read his letter below.
Since 2005, CRS has partnered with more than 100 Catholic colleges and universities across the country, fostering exchange between CRS and Catholic higher education to benefit the poor and marginalized overseas. CRS’ university outreach includes the development of resources, programs and engagement opportunities that focus on three core areas: Institutional Commitment, Faculty Teaching and Student Formation and Leadership.
Michael Galligan-Stierle writes:
Like many of you, I had the opportunity to travel this summer and expand my knowledge and appreciation of the work of Catholic higher education. One such trip was, for me, truly eye-opening. During five days in July, I traveled throughout Haiti, along with President Thomas Mengler of Saint Mary’s University in Texas, and Spring Hill College President Rev. Richard Salmi, seeing some of the areas hardest hit by the 2010 earthquake there. Organized by Catholic Relief Services and co-sponsored by ACCU, this experience made clear not only the amazing things that are being accomplished in Haiti, but also the absolute magnitude of the work of our Church around the world, of which these efforts are only a sample. Our group visited with agricultural enterprises, a health clinic, and areas where reforestation efforts are underway. We saw how solidarity between Catholics in the United States and people in some of the poorest and most vulnerable conditions I’ve ever witnessed is helping them overcome adversity. What impressed me most was the approach taken to resolve the challenges encountered. CRS develops strategic, holistic methods to educate local people, empower them to improve their conditions, and institutionalize change to improve its chances of enduring. It’s not about building a bridge here or a road there; it’s about building hope. The delegation coordinated by CRS was intended to help encourage partnerships between the agency and Catholic colleges and universities in the United States, and the fit makes sense. Blessed Pope John Paul II made this clear in Ex corde Ecclesiae: “Every Catholic University, as a university, is an academic community which, in a rigorous and critical fashion, assists in the protection and advancement of human dignity and of a cultural heritage through research, teaching and various services offered to the local, national and international communities.” I urge you to consider establishing or expanding efforts to protect and advance human dignity in this way. CRS relies on the support and engagement of Catholics around the United States to continue its work in more than 90 countries and territories around the world. It is work that Catholic colleges and universities are well-equipped for, given our comparatively abundant resources in technology, research, and plain old know-how. Collaborations with CRS enable our institutions to bring the social mission of the Church to life for faculty, for students, and to the campus as a whole.
To learn more about how CRS connects colleges and university communities to global issues, visit http://university.crs.org/.