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On Mission In Solidarity

SCU Celebrates Mission Week

As soon as one steps foot onto the 106-acre campus of Santa Clara University, one can feel the presence of a university rooted in Jesuit education. From SCU’s chapel, Mission Santa Clara de Asis, to the well-appointed classrooms and illustrious professors, Santa Clara University is renowned for implementing a holistic approach to education by combining mind, body, and soul. By applying their classroom education to tackle real-world problems through service, students witness how academia can cultivate their commitment to social justice and towards building a more humane, just and sustainable world. To celebrate SCU’s mission based on Jesuit values and its rootedness in the Catholic tradition, Mission Week was inaugurated on the week of November 14-18. For each day of Mission Week, SCU organized events aligning with a theme of the university’s mission and rallied the support of staff, faculty, and students to make these events possible.

Monday, November 14 - A Mission of Discernment, Reflection and ReconciliationMission Week Welcome Dinner 1 new employees mingling
Mission Week Welcome Dinner 2 Julie Sullivan

Monday, November 14 kicked off the week with the theme of discernment, reflection, and reconciliation. Starting with a Welcome Dinner hosted for all new employees, this event provided more than 100 faculty and staff with the opportunity to learn about and reflect upon the University’s mission and Jesuit values. Another dinner, Nourish Night, was held that night for students. Sponsored by the Center for Sustainability, this weekly plant-based dinner held at the Forge Garden supports the mental and physical health of students while addressing food insecurity at SCU. Monday’s lineup of events culminated with a viewing of the documentary “Inhabitants - Indigenouse Perspectives on Restoring Our World.” The film featured five Native American tribes through various climates and biomes to glimpse the practices they used which are becoming essential for the climate crisis in today’s reality. Viewers of the documentary reflected on our land’s original inhabitants and their livelihoods.

Tuesday, November 15 - A Mission of Solidarity and KinshipMission Week Homeboy Visit 1 Tom Vozzo and Bill Mains
Mission Week Homeboy Visit 3 Valerie Sarma and book The Homeboy Way

On Tuesday, November 15, the theme was solidarity and kinship. Tom Vozzo, CEO of Homeboy Industries, was invited to share his experiences on being called to leadership in a nonprofit that changed the trajectory of his life. Homeboy Industries is the largest gang-rehabilitation program in the United States. Recognizing the dichotomy of America, one of privilege and the other of the demonized and poor, Tom left corporate America as CEO of Aramark, to invest in the lives of a forgotten and marginalized community. Speaking humbly to the crowd of SCU staff, faculty, and students, Tom enlightened everyone, “In this society, we have a concept of meritocracy. Believing in this concept, I wanted to justify why I became successful, as opposed to worrying about other people. I knew by my own hard work, smarts, and ability, I would do well in life. But, the American dream isn’t attainable to everyone in life. If we’re going to help lift the poor in our society, we need to understand meritocracy doesn’t exist.” His final words left a palpable impact on SCU’s community: “Let’s lift more people up in our society. Find joy in others. And by doing that, we become more joyful.” Tom’s journey in his work reflects SCU’s value of solidarity and kinship by exemplifying what it means to be in work with and for marginalized members of society. 

Wednesday, November 16 - A Mission of Finding Love in All ThingsMission Week Vigil Salvadoran Martyrs
Mission Week International Ed Festival

Wednesday, November 16 was a day centered on finding love in all things. In the morning, a vigil was held to commemorate the six Jesuit priests and two laypeople who were murdered in El Salvador on November 16, 1989 for their role in living out the mission of a Jesuit university. At noon, the International Education Week Festival was held, which raised awareness about global engagement programs at SCU including immersions and study abroad opportunities. For the third and final event of the day, a workshop which utilized SCU’s Letterpress, invited students to create holiday gifts and cards for family and friends.

Thursday, November 17 - A Mission of Cura PersonalisMission Week Gratitude Board
Mission Week Gratitude Month

Thursday, November 17 honored the theme of cura personalis, a Latin phrase that means “care for the entire person.” In alignment with this theme, the Lunchtime Examen, hosted weekly by the Ignatian Center each Thursday, was highlighted. The Examen was started by St. Ignatius of Loyola to mindfully reflect on the day and on the presence of the Divine within each of us. As part of SCU’s celebration of Gratitude Month in November, the Gratitude Project, was held for students to write thank you cards for people they are grateful for in their lives. These events encouraged cura personalis by allowing students to be challenged intellectually, morally, and spiritually to engage with others fully.


Friday, November 18 - A Mission of Service Rooted in Justice
Mission Week Friday Notes of Hope 2
Mission Week Friday Notes of Hope 1 Maria Autrey and Daniel Martinez

Friday, November 18, wrapped up Mission Week, with the theme centered on service rooted in justice. The first of two events, Letters of Change and Hope, gathered university members to write letters to our representatives demanding to reform human migration laws, and to write holiday greeting cards for migrants and refugees at the border. The second event involved compiling Community Care Kits for the unhoused community in the surrounding neighborhoods, which were distributed through Feed the Block, a local nonprofit organization. These two events propelled the SCU community to create change in their surrounding community by attempting to alter unjust systems through service.

Mission Week Welcome Dinner 3 Alison Benders
This is what mission looks like.

It looks like students actively pursuing a role to create a more humane, just, and sustainable world. It looks like faculty and staff preparing students to enter the world as competent, conscientious, and compassionate leaders. It looks like a community that promotes service to disadvantaged and marginalized communities. It looks like a colony of industrious ants doing each one’s part for the common good of our society. Although the impactful Mission Week lasted just five days, SCU remains steadfast in promoting Jesuit values and displaying what its mission looks like throughout the year.

Jacqui Jones '23