WASHINGTON, D.C. - Catholic University student-athletes took advantage of the opportunity to give back to the local community by participating in the annual Mother Teresa Day of Service on Sunday, September 16.
Hosted by Campus Ministry, Mother Teresa Day of Service is an annual opportunity for Catholic University students, faculty, staff, alumni, and families to serve as Saint Mother Teresa did. The Cardinals again made their presence felt this year, as members of seventeen athletics teams spent the day in service.
"As a student-athlete at Catholic University, community service is a way we can give back to the community and show that doing well off the field or court is more important than any game," explained baseball junior Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) co-president Connor Sullivan. "Our efforts to be strong influences in the community set a great example for other students or athletes to follow."
Eight years before she would receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the Catholic University of America was the first university to award an honorary degree to a nun working with the poor and sick in India Teresa of Calcutta, now known to the world as Mother Teresa, visited Catholic University in October 1971 to receive an honorary doctorate.
"Giving a day to do service is such a little sacrifice in our lives," said women's basketball captain Emily O'Connor. "I think we have to remind ourselves that every minute we are there we are making a difference and helping others."
Beginning the day in the Pryzbyla Center for breakfast and morning prayer, the Catholic University service staff reminded all participants that Mother Teresa tells us that it's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving. Members of the baseball, men's and women's basketball, cross country / track & field, men's and women's lacrosse, softball, men's soccer, women's golf, rowing, football and swimming & diving teams then left to begin their work, doing service projects throughout the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area.
"The student athlete's participation in Mother Teresa Day of service is one that I am always in awe of," said Associate Director of Campus Ministry Emmjolee Mendoza Waters. "To incorporate service and engagement in the community from so many teams, truly reflects the values of the athletic department- one that is in service to the larger community."
"It was inspiring to see how many people were involved in the day of service," said men's cross country / track & field senior Peter Binck. "Most of the teams participated, which really shows the character of the athletics program and the athletes, and how being on a team is more than just being an athlete here at Catholic."
The men's and women's basketball team traveled to Wider Circle in Silver Spring, Md., an organization focused on providing furniture and other items to low-income families. They helped organize their inventory, clean the facility, and help families find the items they needed. Some student-athletes were able to work one-on-one with families to help them find clothes to use for jobs.
"We use our service days as a team bonding event," O'Connor said. "Mother Teresa Day of Service happens early in the school year so it is the perfect time to work with some of our new teammates and get to know each other more."
The men's lacrosse team travelled across the Potomac River into Virginia. While there, the team picked up trash and power-washed the walking path through the National Park. The men's soccer team also spent the day outside beautifying their service site, picking up trash and debris in Rock Creek Park.
Staying closer to home in Brookland, the women's lacrosse and women's golf teams made an impact at Franciscan Monastery, working with the Monastery Garden Guild to beautify the site's greenhouse and gardens. Head coach Meghan McDonogh and her assistant Laura Dunn joined the teams in performing many outdoor clean up projects such as mowing the grass, sweeping the patios, and weeding the garden. They also helped to restore the 100 year-old greenhouse by cleaning trash and preparing for the winter months.
Also serving in Brookland, the softball made their way to the Little Sisters of the Poor to spend time with their elderly residents. Head Coach Ross Natoli and the baseball team traveled to Anacostia to clean up Marvin Gaye Park.
The men's and women's swim & dive teams went all throughout the District, splitting up into smaller groups on homeless food runs. Each went to a different part of the city giving out food and health/hygiene care bags to those who needed them.
Coaches Steve Rahn and Ian Hankins joined the cross country and track & field team and volunteered to help clean up the emergency men's shelter on New York Ave, and the men's and women's rowing team joined President Garvey and his wife Jeanne to spend time with the residents of Carroll Manor nursing home at Providence Hospital.
"Being able to do something that benefits others with the team creates a stronger bond than just spending time at practice can," Binck said. "It shows a different side of your teammates that you can't always see during competition or practice, which I think is really great."
In total, almost 600 Catholic University students braved the threat of heavy rains during Hurricane Florence's impact further south that weekend and participated in the Mother Teresa Day of Service, serving together as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta taught us.
"I am thankful that there is a service emphasis at Catholic U because it makes time for us to give back," O'Connor said. Sports definitely make it harder to find the time; so these bigger days of service are great at making time for athletes and getting more people involved."
All Cardinal fans are encouraged to follow all of Catholic Athletics and sign up for "email-alerts" that sends the latest news directly to your phone, tablet or device. Also, be sure to follow the Cardinals on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!