GCU Year of Hope Looks at Pope Francis’ First Year

Catholicism Expert Christopher Bellitto to Discuss Pope Francis at Georgian Court

Photo by Angel DeCapua, Summer 2013

Photo by Angel DeCapua, Summer 2013

Lakewood, N.J., March 3, 2014—In his role as the world’s foremost religious leader, Pope Francis continues to challenge perceptions and expectations of the papacy, according to church history expert Christopher Bellitto, Ph.D. Dr. Bellitto, chair and associate professor of history at Kean University, is the guest speaker for “Pope Francis: Reflections on a New Papacy” at Georgian Court University, Tuesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. The event, which takes place on GCU’s historic Lakewood campus, is free and open to the public.

“At the one-year mark, there’s always a story, and with Pope Francis, the story isn’t disappointment,” said Dr. Bellitto, who also speaks extensively with the national media on matters of contemporary Catholicism. “He’s a really savvy leader.”

From washing the feet of juvenile inmates during a March 2013 Holy Thursday ritual to his recent push to fully modernize the Vatican’s budgeting and financial processes, Pope Francis is increasingly held up as an welcome example of what is right with the church.

“There’s something real about this guy,” said Dr. Bellitto, “and it’s resonating among people in the pews because it appears that he is truly walking the walk. Yes, there’s still a significant wait-and-see factor on some matters, but contrary to what critics say, he is not a media creation. Doctrinally, he is as kosher as former Pope Benedict XVI was.”

To many Catholics, the Holy Father represents a new kind of hero, he said, adding that Benedict’s contributions are not diminished by the new papacy. Instead, Pope Francis’ actions are creating a new narrative in Church history.

“Francis looks like the right man for the right time,” said Dr. Bellitto. “He has tapped into a real desire for a faith that is encountered in the streets, and a real desire for a sense of authenticity.”

Sponsored by the GCU Year of Hope committee, Dr. Bellitto’s talk is one of several reflective experiences that examine purpose and meaning in academic, career, vocation, and life choices—all in connection GCU’s Mercy core values. A grant from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NETVUE) helps to underwrite this program and others planned by the university’s Year of Hope committee.

Admission for “Pope Francis: Reflections on a New Papacy” is free, but reservations are required. To reserve seating, contact the GCU Office of Conferences and special events at specialevents@georgian.edu or 732.987.2263.

Remembering Mandela

‘A Spark of Hope’

South Africa The Good News / www.sagoodnews.co.za [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

With the passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday, we lost a giant figure who, in a peaceful and non-violent way, helped people to recognize that our common humanity is stronger than our differences. Nelson Mandela was a symbol for our world that faith in people’s deeper better self can conquer challenges.

Our own Dr. Rumu DasGupta eloquently captures the power of his leadership style, noting how his “unmitigated courage and pure integrity seized the imagination of oppressed people around the globe, lighting a spark of hope in their hearts that injustice could be vanquished and a better life made possible.”

Here and throughout the world, we are all better for his life and example. Please watch your e-mail and the GCU website for additional campus announcements in coming days as we honor his legacy.

Sister Rosemary E. Jeffries, Ph.D.
President, Georgian Court University

Filmmaker Julia Haslett Presents ‘An Encounter with Simone Weil’

Georgian Court University will screen An Encounter with Simone Weil Thursday, November 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Little Theatre, located on the ground floor of the A&S building on GCU’s Lakewood campus. There is no cost to attend this event, but reservations are required. Filmmaker Julia Haslett will lead a discussion of the film following the screening.

Trailer: An Encounter With Simone Weil

An Encounter with Simone Weil tells the story of the French philosopher, activist, and mystic who lived from 1909 to 1943. Although she was raised a secular Jew, she was attracted to Catholicism as an adult and felt that she had divine, direct encounters with Christ. Weil, whose brief life is often the focus of research by theologians, philosophers, women’s studies experts and sociologists, identified so strongly with the poor and suffering that she died prematurely at age 34. The official cause—heart failure triggered by starvation and tuberculosis because Weil refused to eat any more food than that given to those suffering under the 1940s German occupation.

On her quest to understand Simone Weil, filmmaker Julia Haslett examines issues of moral responsibility in her own family and in society at large. Ultimately, the film, released in 2010, forces two questions: “What does it mean to be a compassionate human being?” and “How can each of us stand in solidarity with those who suffer?” (See the official synopsis at http://www.linestreet.net/film.html).

In the decades since her death, Weil has been held up as a moral example—albeit extreme—of someone who could not sit idly by and witness the effects of violence, injustice and poverty. The GCU film screening is intended to provoke a reflection on how modern society faces and addresses struggle—from earthquake victims on the other side of the world to local neighbors still grappling with problems in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

Sponsored by the GCU Year of Faith, the screening is one of several reflective experiences that examine purpose and meaning in academic, career, vocation, and life choices—all in connection GCU’s Mercy core values. To make reservations, contact the GCU Office of Conferences & Special Events or call 732.987.2263 for details.

 Visit www.georgian.edu/mosaic for a complete schedule of all public events.



The Spirit of Hope & Resilience: Our Honorees

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Georgian Court University is proud to offer its sincere gratitude
to the following honorees for their unwavering dedication to
individuals and institutions across the Jersey Shore.
They have demonstrated extraordinary acts of kindness that
continue to inspire hope and strengthen our resolve.


Union Beach Police Department


Turning to a local police department in times of need is expected and in normal times, not necessarily extraordinary. But when Sandy roared ashore, the Union Beach police force went above and beyond the call of duty. Chief Woolley demonstrated extraordinary and courageous leadership during the hurricane and thereafter, coordinating rescue efforts with dozens of other agencies. Sgt. Kelly and Sgt. Woodrow rescued numerous families from the water and decimated houses, without regard for their own safety. Patrolmen Harriot, Trembley, and Tuberion are honored for their exemplary efforts in assisting in hurricane disaster relief efforts. Georgian Court University comments the Union Beach Police Department for their heroic efforts.



On October 29, these individuals braved 12-feet-high storm tides, wind gusts of over 75 miles per hour, downed trees and downed power lines to rescue over 250 residents in Union Beach and over 60 residents in Belmar and Lake Como. Equipped with army transport vehicles, they entered over 5 feet of water to rescue people from rooftops and boats. They cleared trees in the roadways to reach those in danger and at one point, hit a low hanging power line that severed the roof off one of the rescue vehicles. They entered flood areas where water was at the height of the steering wheels of the vehicles. Together, this team had the courage to act when they believed the time was right, rather than wait.

On November 8, 2012, Lacey Township High School students, along with staff, organized “Provide for the Pride,” a day-long event at the high school to raise donations and assist devastated citizens, family, and the community and help in their recovery from the aftermath of Sandy. The event directly benefited the Lacey Food Bank and the Lacey United Methodist Church, both of whom have been very active in serving the community’s needs since Hurricane Sandy came ashore. The day was a remarkable example of Lacey coming together to take care of its own.
Read more about the high school’s efforts in this Patch.com story: Provide for the Pride

The volunteer members of the Township of Ocean CERT Team in Ocean County are honored for their immediate response to the needs of the citizens and the township. Ocean and Barnegat Township opened a joint shelter and with one phone call, the CERT volunteers were moving into action to assist in every area necessary. They were scheduled round the clock at the shelter. Some of these volunteers were directly impacted by the storm, yet they still continued to work and care for other residents adversely affected by the storm. The CERT team has given their time to take the classes to assist in any emergency at any time and their teamwork and dedication during Sandy in particular was outstanding.

Nearly 10,000 homes in Toms River were either destroyed, partially destroyed, or flooded in the storm. Mayor Kelaher and the Township worked and continue to work tirelessly to assist residents and businesses, cleaning debris, providing police security, inspecting damaged properties, issuing permits, working with FEMA, and carrying out countless additional assistance efforts. The responsible and dedicated leadership of Mayor Kelaher and the Township during the storm and its aftermath shows their strong commitment to the people of Toms River and the surrounding communities. GCU also recognizes the mayor’s wife, Carol, who supported him though some very challenging days and no doubt gave up lots of family time to accommodate a very busy and challenging schedule.

Faith-Based Organization Honorees

“God has had a direct hand in what we’ve done,”  Bob Smith writes in his narrative about the community’s response to Sandy.

A Work Teams Coordinator for the church, Bob jumped into action immediately after the storm to assist those devastated by Sandy and hasn’t stopped since. Bob has coordinated not only volunteer church work teams, but also orchestrated numerous groups who have come from all over New Jersey and states around the country. Thanks to Bob’s leadership: over 500 volunteers are assisting in Superstorm Sandy relief and recover efforts; 121 homes have been worked on; 7,000 volunteer hours have been spent removing cleaning and repairing homes; and 2,480 volunteers have been helping victims receive aid. Through Bob’s selfless efforts, countless lives have been touched, giving people help and hope.

Read more in The Blessing of Sandy, by Pastor Scott

Despite many losing homes themselves, this group from St. Paul’s fed families and National Guard members for months, as well as helped survivors get back on their feet. GCU friend, Stacey Abate, who lost her home and was helped by this group, stated, “As a family and as a community, we owe them a huge thank you. They were instrumental in getting us through 2012. All of our Christmas decorations for our rental came from them as well as hot breakfasts, food for the rental, cleaning supplies, water for volunteers, hats/gloves, and so much more. We can never repay their kindness.”

Visitation Catholic Church in Brick set up a relief center immediately following Hurricane Sandy’s landfall. Originally, their operations were concentrated in a small stand-alone gymnasium next to the church. The church later created an independent non-denominational charity, Visitation Relief Center, to distribute food, clothing, and supplies into the community daily. The staff is all volunteers and many have been working there daily since the storm. Their dedication and efforts on behalf of those affected by the storm have been tremendous.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy saw Rev. Applegate and the members of her congregation provide shelter, meals, clothing, cleanup assistance, and supportive fellowship to the citizens of Lacey and neighboring communities. Their devoted efforts are worthy of high recognition, praise, and thanks.

Their efforts of Chaverim during and after Superstorm Sandy included, but were not limited to: assisting the Lakewood Police Department in rescuing residents trapped inside houses where trees had fallen; ensuring that doctors’ offices and township shelters had power; transporting individuals to dialysis and area hospitals; and assisting in distributing and starting up generators for residents who lost power, including the sick, elderly, and families with young infants. Their efforts were true examples of kindness and compassion.


Business Honorees

An ongoing commitment to the community is the hallmark of New Jersey Resources. During Hurricane Sandy, NJR worked endless hours to restore service and a sense of normalcy for area residents. Their dedication and support continues today. Many of their employees continue to provide community service and assistance efforts in the recovery and rebuilding of the Monmouth/Ocean area.


In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Wegman’s was one of only a few public places that had a generator. The store opened and stayed opened to ensure that residents could buy food, supplies, and charge their phones. The company provided food for emergency responders during the early days of the event and donated thousands of dollars of food to the FoodBank and Community Fund of Ocean to assist those affected by the storm. Wegman’s is truly a model business who is a caring member of the community.


Even before Sandy came ashore, New Jersey 101.5 reporters and hosts began showing up at the studio with sleeping bags, preparing for a long ordeal.  They left their own families and homes to provide vital and life saving information to the people of New Jersey.  New Jersey 101.5 served as a lifeline, and a voice in the dark for millions left without power and without heat.  Many lost their homes, and didn’t know where they would go.  New Jersey 101.5 knows that it is both a responsibility and a privilege to serve the state in a time of crisis. They were there in the days and months after Sandy, and will be there to serve and inform New Jersey when the next disaster strikes.


The Asbury Park Press published a commemorative book detailing the stories and photos of how Sandy changed the Jersey Shore. Proceeds benefited the Red Cross and local tourism boards.

Journalists are accustomed to doing whatever it takes to get the story and to get it right. But what do they do when their homes, their families, their very lives are part of the story as well? At the Asbury Park Press, reporters, editors, photographers, producers, and production staffers worked through the storm to help keep all of us informed. They worked around the clock, reported from dangerous conditions and for more than a week, many of them slept—when they could—in the newsroom. The newspaper even welcomed other businesses who were without electricity into the APP’s Neptune location. A few weeks after the storm, writers and editors decided to publish a book that chronicled the Sandy’s impact. Since then, sales of “Sandy The Jersey Shore in the Eye of the Storm,” and “Sandy: Devastation and Rebirth at the Jersey Shore,” have generated more than $180,000 in profits—money that has been donated to the American Red Cross and the Jersey Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau.


Non-Profit Honorees


The People’s Pantry originated with the Toms River school district. The volunteer-driven organization continues to serve others nearly a year after the superstorm.

The People’s Pantry started out as a pantry operated by the Toms River School District distributing donated food and other items after Sandy. It now has become a comprehensive relief center offering a wide range of services to the community, including counseling, personal case assistance, and other services, food, furniture, and household goods, and more. The center continues to help thousands of people each month still struggling to recover.

U.B. Strong is honored for their un-ending efforts to help their community, as well as neighboring communities, following the days after Sandy. They donate 100% of their proceeds to the community to support people still recovering. They consistently make time to hear each person’s story and provide unconditional compassion.

The theme for NJ Hope and Healing is “your calm after the storm.” The association sends out teams of trained disaster counselors to disaster-declared counties to provide emotional support and links to assistance for those in need. Over the last year, they have offered counseling to tens of thousands in the area who were affected by the storm. To reach the organization, call 1-877-294-HELP. More information also is available at http://www.mhanj.org/new-jersey-hope-and-healing/.  See how NJ Hope and Healing workers are making a difference across the Jersey Shore.

High Hopes After High Tides—The Oceanport Cares Story


OceanportCaresThese individuals—-assembled by Oceanport Cares founder and director Christina Ellam— and 378 other Oceanport residents immediately stepped forward and helped the community during the first two weeks of Sandy. Whether it was for 1 hour or over 150 hours, they each made a difference. They started out as simple volunteers under Emergency Management and have since formed into Oceanport Cares, taking care of their neighbors and the community. These volunteers helped to run a full-time shelter providing critical services from November until March, and the shelter still operates on an as-needed basis. The efforts of these 6 individuals went beyond what was expected of them and they can be credited for giving Oceanport a sense of security in a time of disaster and ongoing recovery.  Follow their Facebook page for continuing updates.

Project PAUL was founded in 1980 as a part of the community outreach ministry of St. Ann’s Parish, Keansburg. The early work of Project PAUL centered on a food pantry, serving approximately 25 local families, and a thrift shop. When Sandy hit, Project Paul housed one of the largest food pantries in Monmouth County, serving 1,600 families weekly. Project Paul suffered crippling damage to their infrastructure from the storm, but that did not stop them. They continued to help the community in any way they could. Project Paul reopened in February to serve the Bayshore community so hard hit by the storm, and continues as it has always done to sow the seeds of hope.



SAVE BARNEGAT BAY is an environmental group that works to restore, protect, and conserve Barnegat Bay and its ecosystem. Despite losing her home and both her family businesses to floods associated with Sandy, Britta continued her work with Save Barnegat Bay to keep public attention on all aspects of the region’s environmental health. Britta and Willy organized numerous environmental cleanups, coordinating hundreds of volunteers to clean up local marshes in time for breeding season for local birds, terrapins and other animals. They helped guide the company hired to remove debris from the Bay to areas of high need and helped coordinate the efforts of visiting volunteer groups for service to people who lost their homes and for projects restoring the ecological health of the larger environment.


Individual Honorees

Stephanie, a GCU student, is also an EMT who worked upward of 100 hours to assist those in need throughout Monmouth County, even while holding down her own classes and other responsibilities. As Stephanie wrote about her experience, “I know I’m a compassionate person. You need to be if you want to do anything in regards to helping people…I am there whenever someone needs me and I feel as though throughout the storm, integrity kept everyone calm and able to work together.”

Kiel is described as one of those people who instinctively sees a need in his community and is there to lend a hand in any way he can. When the storm hit, Kiel rescued an elderly gentleman from his house, swimming under water with the man to get him out safely. Later Kiel went to the high school, an evacuation site, and sent out texts and Facebook requests asking for supplies, blankets, clothes, and food.  Many answered his call. The mayor then appointed Kiel, only 18 years old, as Deputy Coordinator of Emergency Management. Kiel worked 20-hour days, organizing volunteers and donations, setting up an area to feed displaced residents, putting up tents to protect the supplies. He continued to manage the borough’s relief center and served as the liaison to FEMA, Red Cross, National Guard, and charity and relief efforts. He has compassion beyond his years.

A volunteer for the Monmouth County CERT Team and Monmouth County Medical Reserve Corps, Beth also manages the New Jersey Register Ready. Before the storm, Beth realized the importance of having a registry in Monmouth County identifying the specialized needs of residents. Beth volunteered before and during Sandy, providing information to the local offices of emergency management about their residents who may have been in need of assistance with evacuation or other needs during and after the storm. Beth worked with the Monmouth County Office of Emergency Management answering phones throughout the storm and after providing information, comfort, empathy and assistance to the hundreds of daily callers. Her dedication and work on behalf of the residents of Monmouth County is truly commendable.

After the storm, Kristin observed her elderly neighbors outside their homes peeling wet photographs from frozen frames and gave them some gloves. From that, Operation gLoving the Jersey Shore began. Beth, along with Bethany Luz, Jill Rossics, Kerry Insano, and Melissa Schliegh, collected donations from around the United States, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The donations filled several rooms in two homes. They traveled in their own vehicles and at their own expense to pick up donations and distribute thousands of packages of supplies, food, and Home Depot gift cards to families in need, as well as workers, throughout the storm-damaged areas of Brick, Belmar, Manasquan, Neptune, Bradley Beach, Point Pleasant, and the Barrier Islands. Beth and gLoving the Jersey Shore are recognized for their commitment, compassion, dedication, and resilience.

EILEEN FEDELE and FAMILY (Dominic, Nick and Lucia)

Eileen Fedele (second from left) combed Spring Lake Heights the day after the storm in search of GCU education professor Claire Gallagher (center). Eileen and her husband Dominic (left), along with son Nick and daughter-in-law Lucia, found Claire and helped her begin the process of post-storm cleanup.

Eileen Fedele (second from left) combed Spring Lake Heights the day after the storm in search of GCU education professor Claire Gallagher (center). Eileen and her husband Dominic (left), along with son Nick and daughter-in-law Lucia, found Claire and helped her begin the process of post-storm cleanup.

From GCU education professor Claire Gallagher, who nominated Eileen:

Eileen and her family showed kindness and compassion when I was at my lowest after the hurricane. I had returned to my house, which had been severely damaged in hurricane Sandy and from which I had been evacuated. I found the yard filled with pieces of the boardwalk, large pieces of driftwood and other debris. I could not get the doors of the house open and had no power or heat. I was shocked and desperately sad. With few things I could do to clean up or to begin repairing things, I had been trying to drag as much to the curb as possible, with no neighbors to help me. I was unable to lift most of the wood. I became very discouraged and decided to take a walk toward the beach. I was walking back to my house when I heard my name; it was Eileen. She said she and her family had been looking for me. Without even a question, her husband and son picked up all the things scattered around my yard and carried them to the curb. It was as if an angel had appeared. They were so kind, caring, and selfless and lifted my spirits when I thought things were impossible. They asked for nothing and wouldn’t accept anything from me. This is what the true spirit of GCU is.


Read more about Monmouth’s response in the community’s time of greatest need.
Monmouth University hosted the largest emergency evacuation center in New Jersey, with over 1,000 people housed in Multipurpose Activity Center and Boylan Gymnasium. Assisted by law enforcement and emergency officials, Monmouth University cabinet officers, employees, engineers and electricians, plumbers, carpenters, custodians and communications personnel enabled the center to operate around the clock for over a week. The MAC/Boylan Gym had sleeping and eating sections, a child play area, as well as an infirmary located in the Athletics training room. The university also led fundraising and volunteer efforts centralized through the Student Government Association’s Monmouth U Sandy Relief Project: “Hawks Fly Together For Relief.” Monmouth University provided vital support services in this most critical time of need.

This is an award to honor the thousands of individuals throughout the region who are not part of an organization, but helped in every way they could. They took food to neighbors; helped salvage possessions from damaged homes; donated clothes, money, support; offered rooms to friends for days, weeks, or even months after the storm. They cared for one another; provided a shoulder to cry on, or a hug, or a smile. They let those who suffered the most know they were not alone. We all witnessed this magnificent outpouring of humanity, compassion, and kindness in our neighbors and in ourselves — so true to the spirit of the Mercy core values that serve as the foundation of Georgian Court.


The Payback in Giving

Dr. Robert Wicks, a professor of pastoral counseling at Loyola University, is the featured speaker at GCU’s “Hope & Resilience” event commemorating the first year anniversary of superstorm Sandy.

A Q&A with Robert Wicks, Psy.D.

Dr. Wicks is the featured speaker at GCU’s upcoming event, Hope & Resilience, slated for Sunday, Oct. 27 at 1 pm. GCU News recently asked him to share his thoughts on life after Sandy.



Why should we remember this event? Does it not only cause us distress? Should we not merely move on?

Dr. Wicks: My sense is that the only memory that will hurt us is the one forgotten. Such memories stay with us unexamined and unaddressed and they can be a source of buried discouragement and fear.

The real issue is how we remember. We must remember not simply to re-inflict ourselves with the pain of the event but to remind ourselves of all that others and we have been through and the courage and goodness that were present during and after the event in so many people. When we look at events such as Sandy with clarity and gentleness, we do not deny all that happened (which would be a mistake) and we remain open to all that it taught us on how to go forward appreciating all that we have even more.

You talk about post-traumatic growth in your books. What exactly is that?

Dr. Wicks: Growth occurs when there is full recognition of what happened, but also when we are open to the possibility that something good may come of it…the growth that takes place may not have happened without the tragedy.

In some cases, those instances of darkness allow people to see things in a very different way—they lead to a sense of gratitude and a sense of what’s important for life, and appreciation for friendship, and the little things in life become magnified.

You speak of your work with priests, nuns, doctors, seminarians, social workers and those who are also helping others. How do they—and others like them—keep giving and keep going?

Dr. Wicks: If you’re going to be involved in the waves of stress, you may be knocked down—you’re not above the darkness — but I try to follow my own suggestion that you have a self care protocol: You have to have good friendships and I really think we need to look for the crumbs of alone time in life. Sometimes that means talking a walk, or when you’re on line in the grocery store—consider that a time to lean back and take a breath as they can become an oasis in the day.

What do you get out of this?

Dr. Wicks: I enjoy working with people who have been through difficult times—-one of the greatest things you can share with others is your own sense of peace and perspective, but you can’t share what you don’t have.

The payback in giving is enormous. When we’re with people going through difficult times, we sometimes feel like we may not make an impact, but the truth is we may be closer to that person than anyone else in the world at that point. Maybe you ‘just’ listened or ‘just’ served a few sandwiches, but we should take out the word ‘just’ because being there it what really matters.

It’s not the amount of the darkness in the world that matters, but it’s how people stand in that darkness. If we have a space to offer them, they are able to face it in a way that something can come of that pain.

Hope & Resilience: A Year after Sandy

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Georgian Court University marks the first anniversary of the superstorm that impacted each of us during Hope & Resilience: A Year After Sandy at 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 27 on the university’s historic Lakewood campus. The event, sponsored by New Jersey Resources, OceanFirst Bank and GCU’s Year of Faith, recognizes more than 25 residents, public servants and local companies that stepped up to the task of supporting those in need after the storm. They represent those who were there for us in the first hours to respond and those who continue to serve as we rebuild.

Our featured speaker is Dr. Robert Wicks of Loyola University. In addition to being a nationally known expert on resilience and ways to beat stress (especially for those in the medical and nursing fields), he is the author of Bounce: Living the Resilient Life, and Riding the Dragon: 10 Lessons for Inner Strength in Challenging Times.

For more information, contact the GCU Office of Special Events & Conferences at 732.987.2263 or specialevents@georgian.edu.




Praying for Oklahoma


Keeping Monday’s tornado victims in our prayers

As we begin our final preparations for celebrating our graduates, we collectively hold the people of Moore, Okla., in our hearts and prayers. Those of us at Georgian Court and throughout this region who understand—and have in some way experienced—the devastation wrought by violent weather can empathize with those affected by Monday’s tragedy.

The tremendous outpouring of help that we shared is indicative of the Mercy spirit of community. We pray that it will now strengthen and comfort the people of Moore, and that it will sustain the many first responders and others involved with the recovery effort. I have no doubt that many in our community will offer support the victims through appropriate channels like the Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations.

Generosity comes in many forms and I hope the GCU community will respond as we always do.

Yours in mercy,

Sister Rosemary E. Jeffries

Answering the call to holiness


S. Pat McDermott addressed GCU students, faculty and staff as part of the university's ongoing "Year of Faith" events.

S. Pat McDermott addressed GCU students, faculty and staff as part of the university’s ongoing “Year of Faith” events.

LAKEWOOD, N.J., April 29, 2013—Sister Pat McDermott, President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, spoke about Vatican II and the Call to Holiness before a crowd of faculty, staff, and alumnae on the evening of April 25. Vatican II, she said, was an invitation to “change our way of seeing” and the Call to Holiness is also a “Call to Wholeness.” Sister Pat noted that in 1962, she was a freshman in all-women’s Sisters of Mercy High School in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up across the street from a Sisters of Mercy convent. Vatican II, she said, was the most significant event of the 20th century in which three themes emerged for the people of the Catholic faith: self-identity, engagement in the world, and participation and accountability.

Vatican II, she said, invited us to renew our identity as people of God, engage in the world for positive outcomes, and open up dialogue and collaboration. She embraced the words of John Paul XXIII:  “mercy rather than severity.” “The Call to Holiness is not a step away,” Sister Pat said. “The Call to Holiness is the whole of humanity.” Sister Pat also discussed the work of the Sisters of Mercy through social justice and charitable works and highlighted their advocacy, Mercy collaborations, and Mercy Taking Action events. “Nothing is separate in the journey of faith,” she said.

Read the entire text of her speech here.


Offering the world what Christ has to teach us

Bishop David M. O’Connell Explores “The Call to Holiness” at Georgian Court University, 1/29/13




Bishop David M. O’Connell celebrated Mass at GCU and continued the day with a lecture on the “Call to Holiness” for members of the general public and campus community.


Reflections on the opening of a new semester

By Sr. Francesca Holly ’69 ‘00

Most Reverend David M. O’Connell CM, JCD celebrated the beginning of the second semester and the Year of Faith at a Mass on January 29 at Georgian Court University.

The Bishop’s words gave us holy thoughts to consider. Bishop O’Connell commented on the beginnings of the four gospels which begin with genealogy and birth, a baptism, and a wedding. He highlighted Luke’s opening which saw Jesus, famous preacher and healer returning to his hometown for Sabbath. Invited to offer the sermon at the local synagogue, he delivers a teaching to the locals, using the prophet Isaiah’s words from the Torah.

The spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring the good  news to the afflicted….liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord. (Isaiah 61:1-2)   

The Bishop points out that Jesus speaks mightily for the poor, oppressed, sick and suffering. Pope John Paul II states, “He gives us a glimpse of who he is and why he comes and how we, who listen, should behave. This good news, this Godspell is filled with glad tidings, blindness changed into seeing clearly, souls healed reaching out to all believers—not just to the poor—to show the truth of Christ’s life and its connections to our lives.”

In this Year of Faith we, on campus, can offer the world outside what Christ teaches—freedom, joy, hope, and light—from our hearts to the local campus and beyond, proclaiming by our lives these teachings to the world at large.

Read The Trenton Monitor’s coverage of Bishop O’Connell’s talk.

GCU Receives $50,000 Grant for Year of Faith Program

Lakewood, N.J., Dec. 7, 2012—Georgian Court University has been awarded a $50,000 grant for its Year of Faith program from the Council of Independent Colleges’s Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) Program.

With the “Year of Faith: A Call to Holiness at Georgian Court University,” GCU is embracing Pope Benedict XVI’s call for a year dedicated to the renewal of faith with programs and events celebrating the universal call to holiness. The Year of Faith began at GCU on September 25 with a Mercy Day Mass celebrating the feast day of Our Lady of Mercy. The program offers opportunities for spiritual reflection, sharing of faith, and contemplation of service and vocation for the campus community.

Highlights of GCU’s Year of Faith include “Creative Expressions,” in which students express their faith through expressions of art, dance, song, video, posters, and writings; “What is Faith?” student discussions; “This I Believe,” a sharing of essays on faith, life, and religious traditions; a Year of Faith Book Club, hosted by the GCU faculty; an Advent Virtual Pilgrimage; spiritual and vocational retreats; and a speaker series. As part of the program, GCU students participated in a Day of Service on November 16, volunteering for local community projects.

The two-year NetVUE grant will support the retreats for students, faculty, and staff, the speaker series, the book club, and the Advent Virtual Pilgrimage. The grant will also enable GCU to expand its Year of Faith program for a second year.

“At Georgian Court, the Year of Faith emphasizes an individual’s contemplation of his or her life values and greater purpose in life,” says President Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D. “Georgian Court is committed to the Mercy core values of justice, respect, integrity, service, and compassion. The Year of Faith will provide our students, as well as faculty, staff, and the local community, with opportunities for reflective experiences to examine purpose and meaning in their academic, career, vocation, and life choices in connection with the Mercy core values.”

“As Georgian Court becomes a fully coeducational institution by Fall 2013, the Year of Faith will allow us to further expand our Mercy Catholic mission to a broader student base,” says President Jeffries. “The NetVUE funding will assist us in this important endeavor.”

GCU has established the Year of Faith Committee, made up of GCU administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, students, Board of Trustee members, and local chaplains, to plan and implement GCU’s commemoration of the Year of Faith.

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court announced in May 2012 its transition to become a fully coeducational university in 2013. Today, the university serves more than 2,500 students of all faiths and backgrounds in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court’s main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. 

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