The Catholic University of America

April 10, 2012

3 Student Organizations Honored for Service

  Members of the Bachelor of Arts Social Service Organization (BASSO) participate in a March 30 celebration of National Professional Social Work Month.

A banner that runs across the Web page of Catholic University’s Bachelor of Arts Social Service Organization (BASSO) reads: Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?

As social work majors, the group’s members take that question seriously, volunteering their time as part of campus service projects and interning at agencies in the Washington, D.C., area that help those who are ill, homeless, or in need of educational or psychological services.

BASSO, along with the women’s group, Gratia Plena, and the men’s fraternal organization, Knights of Columbus Council 9542, were honored on Founders Day, Tuesday, April 10, for their outstanding contributions to the University’s almost yearlong Cardinal Service Commitment. President John Garvey presented awards to the leaders of the three organizations at the Anniversary Celebration for the University community.

Since the service campaign was announced last fall, members of BASSO have performed 1,090 hours of service; Gratia Plena, 1,431 hours; and the Knights of Columbus, 2,488.

Behind those numbers are stories of a passion for service and a joy in helping others, says Jennings.

Junior Mary Linn, president of Gratia Plena, says that during her time at CUA, particularly over the course of the service campaign, “my faith life has grown tremendously. There have been so many opportunities to have that encounter with Christ. To have that growth in faith, life has to be about giving.”

Members of the Knights of Columbus Council 9542 at the Relay for Life in March.  

For junior Tim McEvoy, grand knight of CUA’s council, the service campaign was a very real example of the University’s motto: Reason Faith Service.

“It was really exciting to see all the different organizations on campus working toward Catholic University’s goal,” says McEvoy, a mathematics major from Lafayette, N.J., who is minoring in theology and physics. “It was an effort the entire University could get behind.”

Challenged to perform 125,000 hours of service, the University community exceeded that goal in January. On Founders Day, the University announced that students, faculty, staff, and alumni had performed 352,627 hours of service.

Established in 1987, the CUA Knights of Columbus council has about 350 members including alumni who live in the Washington, D.C. area. The Knights strive to make service an integral part of their lives, tapping into the belief that men build relationships by working on projects together, says McEvoy.

“When you join the Knights, you join for life,” notes McEvoy.

McEvoy says that a significant number of service hours logged by the council were performed by alumni who assisted with parish confirmations, put together care packages for U.S. troops overseas, volunteered at retirement homes, and taught religious education classes.

Knights on campus served in a number of ways this year. They volunteered at the dedication last October of the Blessed John Paul II Seminary in Northeast D.C., during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in November, and at the National Prayer Vigil on the eve of the March for Life in January.

As a student organization created within the last few years, Gratia Plena has about 40 members who come together for weekly meetings in the Campus Ministry Lounge. They pray and discuss Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body as a way to support the four pillars of their group: faith formation, prayer, service, and sisterhood.

As part of their participation in the service campaign, Gratia Plena members helped with Halloween on Campus last October and the events of Women’s History Month in March, and collected donations for the Calvary Women’s Shelter in Northwest D.C.

“Gratia Plena fosters an attitude of service,” says Linn, a philosophy major who is minoring in mathematics from Shorewood, Wis. “We are blessed to have wonderful women in the group.”

Many of the service hours performed by BASSO — a group of about 16 members that meets monthly — were done as part of internships. The undergraduate organization for social work majors also collected canned goods for the needy before Thanksgiving and made cards for veterans at Christmastime and for residents of the Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Residence in Northeast D.C. for Valentine’s Day.

Senior Margaret O’Riordan, president of BASSO who is from Hopkinton, Mass., has an internship with D.C. Public Schools. O’Riordan works with children and their families in the Head Start program, primarily in Anacostia in Southeast, D.C.

“I was blessed with a great childhood and a great life,” says O’Riordan, who is minoring in politics, and peace and justice. “A lot of children don’t have that opportunity. I like the idea of the CUA community coming together to do something good for the D.C. community.”