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Nationally Recognized Program is Making an Impact
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Nationally Recognized Program is Making an Impact

In January, the Catholic Campus Ministry Association and National Association of Diocesan Directors of Campus Ministry awarded FalconCorps, Notre Dame College’s student service program, the Exemplary Program in Faith Formation.

Brian Emerson, Notre Dame College’s director of campus ministry, accepted the award on behalf of the group at the two organizations’ national convention in San Diego, California. According to Emerson, “It is quite an honor to receive this recognition because FalconCorps is still a fledgling program.”

Building upon the tradition of service found at Notre Dame College and within the Sisters of Notre Dame, FalconCorps is a group of students sponsored by the campus ministry office who participate in community service and service related activities. The purpose of FalconCorps is to foster participation in community service, increase education surrounding service related issues, provide opportunities for leadership development and increase awareness about social justice. FalconCorps is open to all students with approximately 40 students participating annually.

Fifteen Notre Dame College students participated in Campus Ministry’s first ever Appalachia Immersion Trip during Fall Break (October 11-15) in Spencer, West Virginia. An immersion trip is a “total” experience where participants fully engage in the culture and lifestyle of the place they are visiting. Participants learned about Appalachian culture and the challenges the region faces economically and socially. Participants lived together on a farm and shared communal meals while reflecting on their experiences. According to Emerson, “This trip gave our students an opportunity to step out of their comfort zones, to learn through service, and to be spiritually enriched.”

Anna Ball, a sophomore trip participant said “Everything these people have they earn and they’re thankful for it.” Students gained perspective on the many things that are taken for granted, like having heat, electricity and fresh water. Further, students gained valuable insight into their own lives. Ball said, “I guess I realized that I really don’t know anything. I thought I understood and empathized well with people and then I got down there and realized ‘Wow, I don’t know anything.’”

Experiences like the FalconCorps Appalachian Immersion Trip have a lifelong impact on students. “I have to live the life I know is right regardless of what people say,” said Ball.

Hope Latiak is the former director of grants and prospect research at Notre Dame College.