Fr. Francis Amodio
Fr. Francis Amodio, O.Carm., Director of Campus Ministry. (Photo by Lee Ferris, Mount Saint Mary College)

by Victoria Wresilo

Campus Ministry’s MSMC Serves program is teaming up with the local Newburgh Ministry in hopes of giving back to the surrounding community.

Lent has already begun, but instead of giving up an object or a food, why not give up your time? According to Rev. Father Francis Amodio, the church has forty days of lent, representing the 40 days of Jesus in the desert. “The church comes up with three tasks; prayer, fasting and almsgiving.” he said. Almsgiving is another way of saying doing charitable work, sacrificing your time by giving of yourself.

The MSMC Serves program started last semester but got in full swing this spring semester and is being led by Amodio and head of Campus Ministry, Alexander J. LaPoint. “MSMC Serves initiative that we are a part of is a service learning program. The point is continual service. So it’s not just a one-time deal, you don’t just go in and leave.” Lapoint said.

The program starts with an orientation at Newburgh Ministry. The students who go down and participate get a lecture from the executive director of Newburgh Ministry, Colin Jarvis. He talks about poverty and how it is a part of the Newburgh community. The students get a tour of the facility and those who would like to participate can sign up at the end.

Students sign up for two-hour blocks of service doing whatever Newburgh Ministry needs done that day. Students may go down individually or as a group. “Going in some kind of group helps so you have someone to share your experience with,” LaPoint said.

Students don’t sign up for a particular task, but rather give their time with whatever tasks the community needs. Whether it’s, “helping provide childcare or tutoring, if it’s helping to stock their hygiene closet, you do that. It really helps create that idea of giving freely of yourself,” said LaPoint.

For example, nursing students can offer their services for Newburgh Ministry through Health Fairs on Thursday Mornings. “That blossomed this fall into a medical clinic, they provide free medical care to anyone who needs it,” Lapoint said.

The last part of the program with MSMC Serves is reflection. Students who participate reflect on their experiences with the Newburgh Ministry and how they feel about what they did. “We have reflection seminars where the group gets together, they talk about what’s going on, what they’ve experienced, how it’s different from what they’re used to,” LaPoint said

The students look back on what they’ve learned from their experiences. What they didn’t expect and how they will continue to bring these experiences with them in their future. The goal is for the service to follow each person throughout their life. It is something that becomes a part of a person’s life, it becomes natural to help others.

The campus Ministry’s main goal is to transform people. “Whenever you give to another, you’re not doing it for yourself. Nine times out of 10 you benefit the other” Amodio said.

“It’s easy to love when you expect the love in return. But when you love and you don’t know if you’re going to get it back, that is where you are sacrificing,” LaPoint said. It is going the extra that makes what you are doing charitable. Not just doing what they need, but doing more. “They ask for your coat, and you give them your shirt as well.” Amodio said.

To get involved students are welcome to stop by Hudson Hall and speak with either Amodio or LaPoint about the MSMC Serves initiative.