25 years and counting

Alumni of Loyola's Center for Community Service and Justice gather to celebrate milestone

By Emilie Zuhowski, '20

When Loyola’s Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ) invited alumni and members of the campus community to celebrate the Center’s 25th anniversary, the weekend was full of reminiscing, prayer, and of course, service.

Alumni from around the country traveled back to the Evergreen campus for the celebration, held Sept. 22-24, 2017, to join current students and faculty to give back to the Baltimore community and pay tribute to the organization that is thriving 25 years after its founding.

The weekend included a gathering at the Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., Alumni House, immersion experiences in the community, an alumni panel, a gala, and service at Beans and Bread.

On Saturday evening, McGuire Hall buzzed with grateful alumni, enthusiastic current students, and passionate faculty and staff members. Old friends exchanged joyful memories from the Center, while others browsed the tables and displays filled with CCSJ’s many offerings and opportunities.

Although the attendees came from different class years, backgrounds, and careers, there was one thing that everyone had in common: CCSJ had touched their lives.

For Marie McSweeney, ’11, CCSJ defined her Loyola experience and gave her a career that continues to inspire her.

“I can’t stay away,” said McSweeney, who volunteered for CCSJ as a student at Loyola and was so touched by working with the Baltimore community that she decided to continue this work after graduating. She has worked for CCSJ as the assistant director for the York Road Initiative since 2012.

Rev. Tim Brown, S.J., associate professor of law and social responsibility, and Erin O’Keefe, ’03, director of the Center for Community Service and Justice and the York Road Initiative / Photo by Jen Lowry

Patrick Cassidy, who also works at the Center as the assistant director for outreach and advocacy, explained how CCSJ exemplifies our Jesuit ideals.

“For me, it’s about living out both the mission of the University and the ideals of the Society of Jesus, and engaging in the mission and values in an active way.”

Some who attended the event now have fulfilling careers because of CCSJ, while others have made lifelong relationships and memories here.

Andrea Hallman, ’14, was a service coordinator who facilitated outreach for students in her time at Loyola. “When I first came to Loyola, I did the SOS (Student Orientation to Service) program, and that experience really allowed me to find my niche here.” One of the women who volunteered with her in the program even served as a bridesmaid in her wedding.

Dee Harris, ’96, stressed that most CCSJ alumni still serve. “Just about everyone I know from here still does something.”

Harris, who oversees the charitable activities that his company participates in, knows that he leads a life of service because of the volunteering he did in college. “CCSJ defined who I was as a student. Community service is still a part of my life to this day.”

Although the event was filled with alumni, current students and staff added a sense of hope for the continuation of the Center’s mission of service and justice.

“Some of the most well-rounded individuals I’ve met at Loyola have been involved with CCSJ,” said sophomore Grace Lamoure.

Kate Figiel Miller, assistant director of service-learning, shared why she thinks the students and alumni of CCSJ keep coming back for more: “Students are really able to form a community around the issues of social justice. Because they find something that they collectively really care about, they learn more about themselves as well.”

The Center for Community Service and Justice has a 25-year foundation of success, strength, and service that is sure to change lives for years to come.

Catherine “Missy” Gugerty, former director of CCSJ, and Father Tim Brown, S.J.

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