As you are aware, these last few weeks students and community members have voiced their concerns about the Mercy Ministry Center (MMC). During that time, I have listened to the concerns expressed by students and alumni, and Dr. Tony Campbell and I have met with students, alumni and faculty to hear first-hand their experiences in Campus Ministry and their concerns about the relocation of offices. We have discussed these decisions as a Senior Leadership team with the Board of Trustees and with members of the Sisters of Mercy.
We listened carefully to the voices of students and alumni, as they told us about their experiences. We heard the community when they said Campus Ministry and MercyCare should have a place in the MMC.
We read correspondence from the late 1990s that expressed the intent of the generous donation of the Sisters of Mercy for the creation of the MMC. Students also told us that it is important for them to have a place to gather in the MMC and a quiet place to talk, reflect and pray away from the hustle and bustle of the Warde Academic Center.
The way the community engages with the University’s mission is important. As the Chief Mission Officer of the University, one of the primary functions of the President is to ensure that the University remains true to its mission and values as a ministry of the Catholic Church sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy through the Conference for Mercy Higher Education (CMHE). As such, we are going to make the following adjustments to our original plan. First, as stated earlier, the MercyCare volunteer will continue to have an office in the MMC. The Director of Mission and Heritage, the Director of Campus Ministry, and the Office of the President will also have offices in the MMC, creating a strong symbol of our dedication to mission, desire to serve the ministerial needs of the community and respect for the intent of the Sisters of Mercy gift. The small conference room in the MMC will be available by reservation, making it accessible to the entire community for meetings and conferences. Students will continue to have use of the Commuter Corner Lounge, which will remain available to all students. The Graduate Peer Ministers will share a presence in both the Ministry area and the Student Affairs suite in Warde Academic Center. This will facilitate greater collaboration with other offices, while providing for a more private location to meet. Finally, the outer suite of the President’s Office in Warde will be converted into a large conference room for community use. As always, the Chapel and the Reconciliation Room, immediately inside the Chapel, will continue to be available for Eucharistic liturgies, ecumenical and interfaith prayer services, private reflection, contemplation, consultation, retreats, religious/ministerial education programs and sacred concerts.
We have taken the thoughts and concerns expressed into account as we discerned how to use the MMC. I appreciate the time our students took to meet and share their thoughts, concerns and experiences with us. Our new plan continues the focus of the MMC on Mission and Ministry and reflects the importance of Campus Ministry and Mercy mission in the life of our community. At present, we are concluding the interview process for a Director of Campus Ministry and expect to have a new Director in place when we return in January.
The Office of Mission and Heritage is also experiencing transition as Sister Corinne, who was serving part-time in the position, concludes her service this Friday, November 17. Dr. Avis Clendenen will resume full-time work with a wider role in mission while we search for a Director of Mission and Heritage. Sister Corinne asked me to share this message, “I give thanks for Saint Xavier University and especially am grateful for the privilege to serve with Dr. Laurie Joyner. I give thanks and extend my continued support for her vision and her fidelity to the mission of Saint Xavier University and the mission and heritage of Catholic, Mercy education.”
As we move into the holiday season and Advent hope, I give thanks for those who took the time to meet with us and share their thoughts which informed our current path forward. We are a stronger community because of our shared engagement.
Laurie M. Joyner, Ph.D.