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Mission Day: SU and its neighbors

Written by Mike Thee
April 19, 2010

The last time we all met like this, we were figuratively transported to a variety of far-flung parts of the globe. This time around, we will be closer to home. While Mission Day 2008 coincided with SU’s hosting of the Opus Prize and celebration of the three faith-based humanitarians from Burundi, India and Nicaragua, version 2010, to be held April 28, will put faculty and staff in touch with the people and realities of our immediate neighborhood.

“Seattle University and Our Neighborhood,” as this year’s Mission Day is called, will allow faculty and staff “to get to know our neighborhood better and, particularly, to understand the opportunities and challenges faced by young people in the neighborhood,” says Kent Koth, director of the Center for Service and Community Engagement and one of Mission Day committee members.

The university already has longstanding partnerships with many individuals and organizations in the neighborhood, and on Mission Day, faculty and staff will hear from three—the principal of Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, a representative from King County Juvenile Detention Center and the executive director from the Rotary Boys and Girls Club. Each of these speakers will be followed by members of the SU community—respectively, Sally Haber, director of the Children’s Literacy Program, Flora Wilson Bridges, associate professor in the School of Theology and Ministry, and student Sammie Sevilla.

Following each session, faculty and staff will break into “dyads,” much like Mission Day 2008, to explore the university’s relationship with its neighborhood.

Koth and others are hoping this heightened awareness and dialogue will lead faculty and staff to take the next step. “As a university, we want to be more deeply engaged with our surrounding community,” says Joe Orlando, assistant vice president for mission and ministry. “We’re hoping that faculty and staff really connect with the neighborhood.”

Indeed the university is in the midst of formulating the Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI), an effort being led by Koth. At Mission Day, he will spend some time providing an overview of the initiative, what’s ahead and how faculty and staff can get involved.

Connecting with the neighborhood, to Orlando’s mind, is part and parcel of SU’s mission and identity. “As a Jesuit university, we are particularly challenged to be in solidarity with the real world, and particularly to be in deep engagement with our neighbors,” he says.

Mission Day takes place from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, April 28, in the Connolly Center North Court.  Coffee is available from 8-9 and lunch is provided at the close of the morning.