Last March, University of Detroit Mercy was one of many Catholic institutions celebrating the selection of Pope Francis as the Bishop of Rome. And because he was the first Jesuit to serve in this role, it was even more special to our Jesuit and Mercy University. Very little was known about him a year ago, but enthusiasm and interest rose quickly as examples of his humble, down-to-earth, and simple manner became known to the world. In his homilies and public comments, he speaks consistently about compassion for the poor, the need to show mercy, and the importance of service and social justice. Those themes are integral components of our UDM Mission and are embedded in the values-based education our students receive today, just as they have been for more than 100,000 graduates of the University.
It is fitting, therefore, that we recently recognized seven distinguished alumni with the inaugural Spirit of UDM: Alumni Achievement Award. As you read on page 14 about these notable graduates who have excelled in their careers and have generously contributed their time to their communities, I believe you will also enjoy hearing their acceptance remarks on the UDM website. Their humble reflections express in a few words their strong feelings for University of Detroit, Mercy College of Detroit and University of Detroit Mercy, as well as the impact that our faculty and staff have had on their careers and lives. This year’s honorees exemplify numerous alumni who give selflessly in 53 countries and in cities throughout every state of our nation.
Today’s University of Detroit Mercy students keep our Jesuit and Mercy sponsors’ tradition of service alive with their extensive volunteer activities in the community and their annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips. This is the 25th anniversary of UDM’s ASB program, but the trips are not limited to the spring semester. During the Christmas holidays, for example, 17 students and staff traveled to New Orleans to volunteer with non-profit organizations; and 38 UDM students and staff worked in Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Sacramento and Salem (WV) during Spring Break week. As you will read on page 8, these are life-changing experiences for our students because their exposure to individuals who live in challenging circumstances will influence how they contribute to the communities in which they will live and work.
Because of the civic work of our alumni around the world and the intense efforts of our students, faculty and staff in neighborhoods all across Detroit, it is evident that you and they are modeling UDM’s Mission and Pope Francis’s principles of compassion for the poor and commitment to mercy, social justice and service.
Thank you for your continued support of University of Detroit Mercy, and I hope you enjoy learning more about our alumni and University community in this issue of Spiritus.
Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.