The University of Portland’s Moreau Center helps men and women develop skills, knowledge, and habits to improve the world through hope, compassion and solidarity. Rooted in Catholic social teaching, we provide direct service opportunities, leadership development, reflection and social analysis. The Moreau Center is named in honor of Father Basil Moreau, C.S.C., founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Inspired by his vision, we aim to make God known, loved and served by caring for our neighbors and working for the common good.
Service is one of the key components in a Catholic education. Students, faculty, and staff at the University of Portland find service with and for others to be a powerful way to apply their education and faith in the world.
There are many reasons to get involved with service and social justice activities at the University of Portland. Volunteering:
- Responds to a community or individual need
- Encourages academic, emotional, and spiritual growth
- Brings new friends together
- Creates opportunity for change
- Provides practical work experience and leadership opportunities
Participating in activities that raise your awareness to social concerns and issues of justice:
- Educates you in the tradition of Catholic social teaching
- Helps you integrate your academic studies with current issues and events
- Challenges you to seek the common good in all that you do
- Encourages you to think critically about your ideas and values
- Moves you to concrete action on behalf of others
Our Core Commitments[jaccordion size=”normal” theme=”blitzer” active=”1″] Core Commitments::
Inspired by the vision of Father Basil Moreau, C.S.C., founder of Holy Cross, rooted in Catholic social teaching, and guided by the mission of the University, Moreau Center programs are centered by the following commitments.
[jacc/] Direct Service::
Service can be defined in broad ways. Direct-service is how we define directly connecting with people and programs through service work. We encourage students to find on-going volunteer opportunities (many supported by Moreau Center Campus Volunteer Coordinators or CVCs) and try to provide one-time opportunities often (most organized by Service & Justice Coordinators or SJCs). Each service-learning immersion includes some form of direct service. Direct service provides an opportunity for individuals to become participants rather than observers in the communities they visit. It also allows them to address real community needs while encountering and wrestling with issues of poverty and injustice. Direct service helps to break down fears, stereotypes and apathy and often inspires people to do more.
[jacc/] Social Justice::
Catholic social teaching talks about the dignity of all human life, preferential option for the poor and consideration of the common good. We believe that charity or direct-service without consideration of the complex issues at the root of social concerns is incomplete service. Educational and reflection opportunities are embedded in our programs so that participants will come to a deeper understanding of self as well as the political, social, economic and religious issues connected to their volunteer experiences. Sometimes guest faculty lectures or community experts present to groups. Other times learning occurs through agency visits, short readings and in times of personal or group reflection. Participants should come away from a program or volunteer experience with a sense of how their unique interests, talents and skills can affect social change and with a sense of responsibility to take action.
The Moreau Center is more than a resource office. We are committed to relationships. One thing that distinguishes Moreau Center programs from other student trips or study experiences is an expectation that participants enter into community with one another, with our partners and with people where they visit. They learn what community is by experiencing it. It is not expected that participants will like everyone in a group or that they meet, however it is expected that each participant takes the time to listen to and respect others as well as offer their own ideas and resources. Shared responsibility for meal preparation and group reflection are expected during service-learning immersions. When visiting new communities, participants should have a posture of humility and respect, of a curious student and a grateful guest. Whenever possible, participants are encouraged to learn about and engage in the customs and culture of the community they are visiting. They are also encouraged to limit distractions like cell phones, internet access and MP3 players.
Solidarity is a belief that we are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and ideological differences. Practicing solidarity can look unique for each program. One of the most common ways is through voluntary simplicity. Service-learning trips, events and programs are planned with cost-effectiveness in mind. This not only reduces the finances required by participants but also advances our commitment to living in solidarity with the often under-resourced communities and organizations that host us. While safety is a top priority, comfort is not. Participants may find themselves sleeping on the floor of a church basement, going several days without showering or living with a host family who does not have running water. Other ways to practice solidarity may include observing local customs and culture, patronizing local business and services, or spending time listening to and learning from local people outside of formal gatherings.
[jacc/] Personal Reflection, Social Analysis and Spiritual Exploration::
Service without reflection is like eating food you don’t digest! Our programs and service experiences often stimulate profound questions and offer an opportunity to intentionally explore them. The key questions woven into the University core curriculum are also woven into reflections during Moreau Center programs and facilitated reflection:
- Who or What is God?
- Who am I? Who am I becoming? Why am I here?
- How does the world work? How could it work better?
- How do relationships and communities function? What is the role of difference?
- What is the role of beauty, imagination, and feeling in life?
- What is a good life? What can we do about injustice and suffering?
Service-learning Immersions begin and end with a group check-in and/or centering activity. Sometimes reflections will be more like an issue-oriented discussion, other times they will be more personal, sometimes centered on spirituality. When a priest attends a Moreau Center program, an optional Mass is said usually once a day. Sunday or Saturday evening mass should always be planned for in the program itinerary. The Center also makes a point to connect with organizations, churches and religious communities in the Catholic tradition of the University and the local culture of the community where students are visiting. Students of other faith traditions or no tradition are encouraged to participate when comfortable in these opportunities and also encouraged to offer opportunities for the group to learn more about their tradition, faith perspectives and values.
The three pillars of sustainability are economic, social and environmental concern. We strive to respect the Creator by our stewardship of creation, but caring for the earth is just one aspect of sustainability. Principles of sustainability guide how we develop community partnerships, plan fundraisers, choose menus and consume resources. As the University implements its Climate Action Plan and strives to become a more sustainable community, we seek to learn all we can and do our part. The most obvious way we practice sustainability on our programs is through voluntary simplicity. Another way is by planning fundraisers that consider fair trade and organic products, the fair use of group member’s time and energy, and support the local economy. We encourage groups to use reusable, compostable or biodegradable supplies and water bottles whenever possible.