By Father Charles Keeney
As diocesan mission director, I found myself at a very beautiful liturgy of the Eucharist on the campus of St. John’s University on Sunday evening, March 10.
Before Mass, I got to meet Victoria O’Keefe, an important member of the Campus Ministry team. She was preparing the table for the presentation and distribution of the Rice Bowl packets for the student body of the university. Among her many responsibilities is the coordination of all events that flow into the university’s involvement with Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
After Mass, I witnessed student ambassadors in action. They manned the table and distributed the packets to the students leaving St. Thomas More Church located right there on campus.
When most of the students left, I got the chance to meet two very impressive student ambassadors for CRS. The first was Regine Auguste, the president of the club. In our conversation, I learned that she joined because she believed in the mission statements of CRS and wanted to be really involved. As president, she certainly is!
Next to her at the main table was another student ambassador, Grace Musser. She was tired after having spent the previous week assisting the Vincentian Mission Projects at a mission plunge in Washington D.C. She is the present chairperson for the Hunger and Poverty Committee at the university. Grace told me that she was especially interested in social justice and global hunger. She was in the right place to make a difference and to inspire others.
St. John’s University is well known on the national level at CRS headquarters in Maryland and on the regional northeast level as well.
A little while ago, I had a visit in my office from Maureen McCullogh and Nora Collins. They both work at the regional level for CRS. They encouraged me to see what could be done with youth ministry in our diocese in collaboration with CRS. Both praised the work of St. John’s and Victoria O’Keefe in particular.
After my visit last weekend, I certainly would agree with them that this university and Victoria are worthy of praise. The Vincentian Spirit is alive and blessed at this Queens university.
The college ambassadors are enthusiastic and devoted to promoting awareness of global hunger.
On March 31, student ambassadors scheduled a “simple supper.” Some of the students cooked a meatless dish from the menu items listed in the Rice Bowl kits. It should be informative for both the cooks and the participants as they leave the comfort of the quantity, quality, and kinds of food they normally prepare, and eat in solidarity with their poorer brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.
Their ministry offers ways students and staff can get information, get involved, and love their neighbors, here in Brooklyn and Queens as well as over 110 other countries.
If you are interested in assisting Catholic Relief Services and you’re on campus at St. John’s, contact the Campus Ministry Office and leave a message for Victoria O’Keefe. I know she will respond!