September 06, 2012
Even before the start of their first semester at St. John’s
University, 44 new freshmen experienced the satisfaction of
Vincentian mission by serving disadvantaged New Yorkers as part
Ministry’s Rendu Service Experience.
The experience is named for Blessed Rosalie Rendu, D.C., a Daughter
of Charity who dedicated her life to service in the slums of
19th-century Paris, France. It is part of Campus Ministry’s
Plunge Program — intensive service efforts in which St. John’s
students volunteer in locations throughout the United States and
around the world.
To begin their service, the freshmen moved on to the Queens campus
before other St. John’s students. From August 17 – 21, they joined
12 student leaders to volunteer at throughout Queens, Brooklyn, the
Bronx and Manhattan.
Service locations included Providence House, which offers
supportive housing for formerly homeless families; HeartShare Human
Services, which assists those with developmental difficulties; and
St. John’s Bread and Life, a St. John’s University-operated agency
providing food and other support for those in need.
“As Blessed Mother Teresa once stated, the experience helped me to
realize the real meaning of doing ‘small things with great love,’”
said Lauren Ippolito ’16Ed.
The University’s Staten Island
campus hosted its own Rendu Service Experience for students. On
August 22 – 24, seven new freshmen volunteered alongside two
student Plunge leaders. They served those in need at agencies and
other locations in the borough’s Stapleton neighborhood. Sites
included the Salvation Army; the Richmond Center for Rehabilitation
and Healthcare; and the kitchens and food pantries of Project
Hospitality, an interfaith effort to serve the hungry, the homeless
and those stricken with HIV/AIDS.
“I was inspired to help others get involved,” said Maria Montano
’16C. “I’ve seen that more volunteers can help others in a
[short-term] and long-lasting way.” Kenneth Tompkins ’16C also
found the experience inspirational.” This experience has truly
empowered me to follow Jesus’ words of feeding the hungry and
helping the sick,” he said.
On each campus, the students not only shared their Vincentian
service experiences through personal reflection and prayer, but
also took part in fun activities as a community. On Staten
Island, they took in a minor-league baseball game. At Queens, the
“Plungers” competed in a friendly scavenger hunt through
All the students felt closer to their campus and the city itself.
“Being a commuter, I was very nervous that I wouldn’t know anyone
on the first day of class — and that everyone would already have
friends from their residence halls,” said Queens campus student
Raeann Kalenka ’16Ed. “But the Plunge introduced me to many
different people. I feel I’ve made life-long friends.”
For more information about Plunge
service-immersion trips, contact Campus Ministry:
Staten Island campus
James Behan, Jr.