Siena Friars Spend Spring Break with Students

Rebecca Doel Friar News

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — During a season many associate with bathing suits and relaxation, a handful of friars from Siena College spent the school’s spring break in service alongside students at a variety of locations.

Siena’s Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy organizes service immersion trips each spring break, according to Judith Dougherty, associate director of the FCSA. This year, Mathias Doyle, OFM, Gregory Jakubowicz, OFM, Walter Liss, OFM, and Dennis Tamburello, OFM, served as chaperones in Boston, Greensboro, N.C., and Georgetown County, S.C.

In addition, student friar Daniel Horan, OFM, who is spending his internship year teaching at Siena, traveled with students to the Dominican Republic on a service trip coordinated by the college’s Sr. Thea Bowman Women’s Center.

Habitat for Humanity
Walter and Dennis led trips to the Carolinas in conjunction with Siena’s Habitat for Humanity. They were two of five Habitat service immersion trips organized by Siena this year.

“The four Habitat trips to the Carolinas were part of Collegiate Challenge,” said Dougherty. “These are weeks reserved for colleges and universities to work on select Habitat sites. They do anything from putting up walls and carpentry work to sheet rocking, taping, putting up roofs, painting … just about anything you can think of.”

“The welcome we received by the Habitat people and sponsors in South Carolina was tremendous,” said Walter, who led a group of 20 students. “Local churches made lunches for us every day.”

During the week, Dennis added photos of the work he and the students completed to his Facebook page. In the album’s description, he wrote: “I can honestly say that this week was one of the best experiences of my life. And for that, I can thank the 19 students who brought me along, as well as a wonderful local habitat staff.”

St. Anthony Shrine & St. Francis House
Greg, Siena’s chaplain, and Mathias, director of the FCSA, chaperoned five students on a trip to Boston’s St. Anthony Shrine and St. Francis House. The friars and students served meals and helped with art and computer training, job training and counseling programs at St. Francis House and assisted with a variety of shrine ministries including the food center, young adult street program and senior program.

“Each day, we met as a group to reflect on the experiences and their meanings to us as individuals and as a group,” Mathias said.

He recalled comments the students shared at a follow-up meeting.

One said, “I was touched at how the friars opened their home to us, and I was thankful for their willingness to help us and share with us their experiences.”

Another: “I have never met a group of individuals as welcoming, outgoing and warm-hearted as the people I met at St. Anthony Shrine.”

Franciscan Sisters of Santo Domingo
Dan and the students who traveled to the Dominican Republic primarily served in a school maintained by the Franciscan Sisters of Santo Domingo, working with the educators and sisters in a variety of programs.

Since returning, Dan has written two entries on his blog, “Dating God,” speaking about the trip.

“I was blessed to have the opportunity to spend the week with 10 outstanding students and a wonderful colleague,” he wrote. “I must say that I’ve never seen a group of college students work so well, so dedicatedly and in such an organized manner.”

c-fvmIn a later entry, “The Sin of Willful Ignorance,” Dan reflected on the unusual choice of all students who give up a week of vacation to spend it in service to the poor.

Earler this month, in celebration of National Volunteer Week, Siena premiered “Siena Serves,” a documentary about the work done by students during the previous year’s spring break.

“This video really showcases service, which is a trademark of Siena College,” said Dennis, a 1975 graduate.

— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

Editor’s Note: Spring break trips by students and friars at St. Bonaventure University will be covered in a future issue of this newsletter.