Tag Archives: University Ministry

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All’s Fair in Love and Coffee? Find out at University Ministry’s Fair Trade Coffee Break

Ask any college student what their trick is for getting through a morning class or pulling one of those end-of-the-semester all-nighters, and coffee will most likely be the answer. But while many students can tell you the ins and outs of their coffee shop orders — a skinny, double-shot, whip cream, milk alternative latte, anyone? — how many can tell you about where their coffee actually came from?

The University Ministry is hosting a weekly Fair Trade Coffee Break every Tuesday in April for students to get the chance to enjoy free Fair Trade coffee and chocolate and to gain some insight into how our coffee gets into our cups each morning. The coffee breaks feature conversations about Fair Trade and other coffee-related aspects, like child slavery, sustainability, and advocacy.

Fair Trade is a social movement (and now coffee label) that is dedicated to (and indicative of) trade in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries.

Resident Minister Ashley Artmann, who came up with the idea for USF’s Fair Trade Coffee Breaks explained: “[The farmers are] the lowest people on the totem pole [in the coffee industry] so Fair Trade makes sure that they get paid more fairly and that there are better labor practices in the industry.”

One way that Fair Trade works is by encouraging manufacturers to buy directly from farmers, instead of from a middleman who profits off farmers.

For Artmann, promoting Fair Trade on campus is a simple and engaging way of raising awareness amongst USF students about the origin of their coffee. “I think that Fair Trade is one of the easiest ways to help support the [coffee] industry because it’s so easy to find, so there’s really no excuse not to,” she said. “I drink a lot of coffee,” said Artmann, who said she likes “knowing that the goods and services I purchase are not only not hurting people, but also actually helping people.”

Katie Dechantz, program manager at the University Ministry, agrees with Artmann’s thinking. “[The Fair Trade Coffee Break] is a great event because the coffee draws people in and there’s great information,” she said.

While Fair Trade Coffee is a cause worth promoting, sophomore International Studies Major Miranda Calderon explained another view of the system. “It’s great to showcase the Fair Trade system,” said Calderon, “[but] Fair Trade isn’t the most perfect system [just] because it’s better than the regular system.”

Calderon, who participated in the Esther Madriz University Scholars’ trip to Nicaragua to study the practice of Fair Trade coffee farming first hand, explained that, while cutting the middle man out may leave more profit in coffee exchange, that money often goes to the coffee farm owner, and not necessarily the farmers themselves. “I would still recommend buying Fair Trade coffee, so that Fair Trade gets the recognition it needs,” said Calderon.

So how can we know if our coffee is Fair Trade?

There are two labels to look out for when buying coffee at the grocery store, Fair Trade International and Fair Trade USA.

“San Francisco is home to a lot of small roasting coffee companies who use Direct Trade, an alternate to Fair Trade where the people doing the roasting work directly with the farmers,” added Artmann.

University Ministry hopes to spark a conversation amongst USF coffee drinkers. “Coffee is just the gateway to the important information,” said Dechantz.


Catch the next Fair Trade Coffee Break Tuesday April 22 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in the University Ministry Romero Room located in lower Phelan. Don’t forget to BYOM (bring your own mug).

Students Turn to Immersion Programs for Alternative Travel Opportunities

Many students are looking forward to summer break, visiting family, going to the beach, or just relaxing with friends. Some may have done something similar for spring break, but 31 undergraduate USF students of various ages and majors chose an alternative route. Through University Ministry’s Arrupe Justice Immersion program, students were given the option to spend a week in Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, or West Virginia.

“[The trips] allow students to get a better feel for the rest of the world,” said Courtney Armani, junior chemistry student, highlighting that the experiences she gained on this immersion trip are much different from those travelling as a tourist.
The program began in 1996 under professor Michael Duffy of the Joan and Ralph Lane Center. for Catholic Studies and Social Thought. The program offers students the opportunity to spend their spring break immersing themselves in another culture and a foreign way of life, while exploring new perspectives on social justice. Upon their return, many students affirmed that the trips helped them gain insight into different ways of living.

“If you travel alone you’re not going to do all that stuff,” Armani said,“but if you’re traveling in a group or through the University you have a whole bunch of other opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Armani, who went to Cali, Colombia, along with eight other participants, divided her time between learning about the internally displaced people in the country’s rural regions and spending time with children within the city of Cali.

Knowledge of each region’s history and how it has affected its inhabitants has been a major focus of the immersion trips during the last ten years.

“We wanted to work with professors and focus on community- based learning in the Jesuit tradition,” said Kique Bazan, associate director of Global Social Justice and Community Action. “There are ways of learning from communities, but in the Jesuit tradition there is something very specific…it’s about learning the dreams of the communities we are connecting with.”

Understanding the idea of accompaniment which implies immersion rather than service, was a theme in each of the immersion trips, from rural Appalachia to the South American rainforest.

“The idea since the beginning wasn’t to better their lives, but to learn from them,” said Valeria Vera, a first year international studies major who traveled to Peru wrote of the experience. Vera said speaking with Peruvians about how they live gave her “more of that power to actually go back and help them to accomplish what they need.”

Students who traveled to West Virginia, learned of the environmental struggles of those living in the rural areas of Appalachia. “We want to get into the issues of the environment that connect to social justice,” said Bazan.

In Peru, students typically focus on the issue of street children and their susceptibility to become victims of human trafficking. In the aftermath of war and violence, both the group to El Salvador and Colombia learned how wars in those countries affected those living in local societies, and how they are now working to better their lives.

Bazan said University Ministry’s goal is to permanently establish the four trips and continue to offer them to students each year. Bazan added that other trips may be designed in the future, but that trips are usually determined by the donations received and the needs of each community, as well as the social justice issue University Ministry would like to promote.

Many students who participate in the programs conclude the trips not only give new perspective, but also affect the rest of their educational experience.
Erika Myszynski, a USF graduate who participated in an immersion to Peru, said the experience offers students something they can’t find inside a classroom. She said, “An immersion trip is something unimaginable until you go…it makes things more real, it makes the world kind of like a family.”

Students interested in participating in summer Arrupe Justice Immersions and receiving class credit can contact Kique Bazan at

Jesuit Uses Humor to Spread Religious Message

Fr. James Martin

University Ministry hosted guest lecturer Reverend James Martin, S.J. at the McLaren Conference Center, with over 200 in attendance, Monday, February 6, at 4:00 p.m.

In the opening remarks, Director of University Ministry Julia Dowdsaid USF faculty and staff are confronted with the following challenge, “How can colleges and universities address the needs of the whole human being—in mind, body, and spirit, in ways that best contribute to our future on this fragile planet?”
Monday’s lecture gave opportunities to think about internal quests for spirituality not strictly as a serious matter, but rather a journey where people can laugh along the way.

Official Chaplain for the Colbert Report, Martin is most commonly known for his entertaining approach to biblical rhetoric. On Monday, audience members laughed at jokes regarding the Jesuit order. They also seemed to nod in agreement of Martin’s sermon-like speech about applying humor to the practice of religion. He referred to Christianity in particular.

Martin’s addressed the need to include joy, humor, and laughter in the spiritual world. Yet Martin also said those values are not only needed in our personal spiritual lives, but also in the Catholic Church as a whole.
Martin said, “It’s not clear how it happened that joy, humor and laughter had been deemed inappropriate in religious circles, but I’m sure we’ve all met people that perceive that being religious means being deadly serious all the time—but if you’re deadly serious, you’re probably seriously dead.”

Audience members laughed, perhaps remembering their own past experiences of attending solemn masses where laughter was not encouraged.

For college students, Martin’s points invite spiritual dialogues across generations of different religions, since laughter and the seriousness with which faith is discussed goes beyond Christianity.

However, during what may have been perceived as “Jesuit comedian stand-up,” Martin spoke about why Jesus may have never been considered funny or associated with having a sense of humor.

Martin suggested two reasons for why this is often the case. Martin said some of the jokes discussed in the Bible might require knowledge of the cultural context of first century Judea. Also, some of the jokes might get lost in delivery due to lethargic presentations during Catholic mass. Martin suggested both reasons have contributed to the lack of humor found in the Bible.

Yet in some cases Martin said, “We’ve heard the jokes so many times they’ve become stale. It’s like a joke you’ve heard over and over again.

“Joy, humor, and laughter show your faith in God. Essentially having the positive outlook shows that you believe in what? The resurrection. Christ is risen,” Martin said.

The previous statement can also be applied to the Church’s desire to increase the number of people who wish to enter a life of vocation.

Martin said, “While seeking vocations we must live our lives joyfully. Why would anyone want to join a group of miserable people? We tend to forget that sometimes.” Martin’s assertion that Jesus must have also had a sense of humor was reinforced by Martin’s story of the disciple Nathaniel. He said that a sarcastic interaction between Jesus and him in the Bible was an early indication of Jesus’s sense of humor. “Jesus was fully human and to be fully human you have to have a sense of humor.” Martin said.

Seniors Natalie Luera and Mike Kuba, USF students who attended the event, said they both thought it was funny and entertaining. “I’ve never really heard someone talk about Catholicism and going to church in a humoristic way, because I’ve always associated my religion being super serious. And what I really enjoyed was it was true and thought-provoking,” Kuba said.

USF Community Remembers Jesuit Martyrs

by Vicente
Photo by Vicente Patino

During last Sunday’s student mass, University Ministry commemorated martyrs killed in El Salvador during its violent civil war. Among those remembered were six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter,murdered in 1989. Defender of the poor, Monsignor Romero and several Maryknoll sisters were also remembered. After mass, students processed up Lone Mountain with white banners displaying the faces of the Jesuit martyrs and the two women killed with them. Members of USEU, USF’s Salvadoran Student Union, carried and hammered white crosses at the top of Lone Mountain in commemoration to the martyrs. Two blank crosses were also placed in remembrance of unnamed victims and martyrs. Those gathered responded “presente” after each name was called and the cross was hammered. The repetitive action was meant to symbolize that those killed continue to remain alive because people keep their memory present in their hearts.

Being Queer on a Catholic Campus

As part of National Coming Out Week, University Ministry teamed with Queer Alliance and the Gender & Sexuality Center to host a forum exploring what it means to be a queer student and faculty member on a Catholic Campus.

Students and faculty gathered near the cafeteria, many of them sporting rainbow-colored buttons on their book bags and shirts, to participate in a round table discussion on the state of the gay community on campus.

Rev. Donald Godfrey, S.J., was among one of the special invitees who spoke about the relationship between the gay and lesbian experience on a Catholic campus in San Francisco.

Having grown up in Ireland, a country that has been long known for its conservative Catholic roots, Godfrey has often reflected on the following question: could a person be accepted as Catholic and gay?
“I don’t believe being Catholic and being gay is an oxymoron,” said Godfrey, associate director of University Ministry. “There are people on this campus who are both [Catholic and gay] and the church needs the experiences and voices of the gay community. There has to be an engagement between the Catholic tradition and the gay experience.”

Godfrey cited his experience at USF and in the San Francisco LGBTQ community as having helped to shape his understanding of the relationship between the Catholic faith and the gay lifestyle.
The Castro, before becoming the epicenter of the gay rights movement in the 1970s, was home to many Irish Catholic immigrants who left a lasting legacy.

For Godfrey, the fusion of the two cultures, while at times contentious, has helped both communities to reconcile their understandings of faith and sexuality. Godfrey has since returned several times to Northern Ireland to help the gay and lesbian community of both the Catholic and Protestant Church wrestle with these same questions.

Dr. Shirley McGuire, professor of psychology, had some serious reservations as to whether Catholic universities around the country were ready to give support to the LGBTQ community.

After arriving at USF from the University of San Diego in 2001, McGuire wondered just how revealing she could be about her sexuality.

“I had my doubts and I believed I probably needed to stay in the closet because it was a Catholic university,” she said.

Having grown up in a strong Catholic family in Buffalo, N.Y., Ms. McGuire had long struggled to find a venue in which she could talk about the issue of sexuality and Catholicism with the help of a support group.

After coming to USF, things began to change for the better. McGuire and a group of 12 USF faculty members formed a caucus to aid LGBTQ members in their quest to “form an adult relationship with the Church.”

“When I visit other Catholic campuses, they have trouble talking about their sexuality,” said McGuire. “Here, I think we [USF] are starting to do a better job of reconciling both religion and sexuality.”

Nevertheless, the push to incorporate the LGBTQ community at USF has been gradual, and in the eyes of some students at the roundtable, not committed enough.

Andy Berlin, a Theology major, had been skeptical of the acceptance of St. Ignatius Church toward gay members of the community. For Berlin, the “juxtaposition” between the conservative stance of many Catholic Churches and the activism college students showed against Proposition 8 was one he thought couldn’t coexist.

Despite the issue of St. Ignatius, however, Berlin, who was raised by a single, lesbian, Catholic mother, has found the University and the classroom to be accepting of the LGBTQ lifestyle. According to Berlin, for some the idea of a gay Theology major seems incompatible.

“Coming to this university, I’ve rediscovered an appreciation for my faith,” said Berlin. “I actually feel the Theology major has the most queer-friendly staff.”