Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 28, 2015 – The Caldwell University community celebrated Pope Francis’ visit with its annual day of service, Caldwell Day, on Sept. 25.
Classes were canceled and students, faculty, staff and administration were invited to volunteer at a nonprofit organization.
The activities included sorting food at the Community Foodbank of New Jersey; visiting the homebound in the Caldwell area; gardening at Mary’s Place in Jersey City, a home for low- income women; collecting food at grocery stores for the Caldwell Food Pantry, sprucing up the gardens at the historic Kingsland Manor in Nutley and more.
Katherine Carlson, a junior, said it was a great experience to visit the homebound, and she “felt right at home” since her grandfather lives with her family.
Bilan Biju, a freshman, went to the food bank and was moved to tears as she thought about all those who need food and would not get it if there were not people to volunteer. “We all have a heart to donate.”
Olivia Lewis was one of the students who cleaned out a music department closet on campus. She was “humbled and grateful” and felt God put her there since she is a music major.
Margaret Searle, a sophomore, and Michelle Eng, a freshman, collected food outside the grocery store and were amazed at the generosity of the passers-by.
A prayer service led by Chaplain Father Al Berner was held on campus.
Sean Puzzo, a junior, gave the reflection. “Whether you sorted through donations at the Community Foodbank or helped clean up the historic cemetery, you made a difference. You may not have directly met those who you helped, but they know and they appreciate it.”
He said that as a Catholic and Dominican institution, Caldwell prides itself on answering the call of service to others. “God has called each to serve,” he said, quoting the gospel of St. Matthew: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
“Thank you for being living examples of the Dominican charism,” said Puzzo.
Father Al thanked God for Pope Francis and for his visit to the United States. “His compassion reminds each one of us of how special we are to our God and to others.”
Music was provided by Mary Kate Coleman of St. Catherine’s music ministry in Cedar Grove and by Christine Snyder.