Xavier is participating in President Barack Obama's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, an initiative inviting campuses to commit to a year of interfaith cooperation and community service, bringing students of different religious and nonreligious backgrounds together to serve the common good.
On Aug. 3, Rabbi Abie Ingber, founding director of Xavier’s office of interfaith community engagement, traveled to the White House to help launch the challenge, which seeks to help university leaders understand why this work matters and why it should be an institutional priority.
Quality interfaith initiatives exist on many campuses but often are led by individuals with few resources. Engaging religious diversity on campus allows college students to enter the broader world thinking that cooperation with those who believe differently is the norm.
A leadership council of 10 Xavier students will oversee and assess the White House Challenge programs at Xavier. Creative and transformative programs are to take place throughout the year regarding global awareness and interfaith community building. The best examples of students coming together to help those in need will be recognized by the White House.
Xavier’s interfaith initiative focuses on two areas—health services, and multiculturalism and global awareness. The Interfaith/Pre-Professional Health Service Mission to Guatemala that takes place each year responds to this call of justice and service, providing aide to the community of Patanatic. It gives students a unique job-shadowing experience while immersing them in the Guatemalan culture through interfaith dialogue and community engagement. In addition to medical service, students are educated in faith, both from their peers of different traditions and the Guatemalans.
“We are honored to be counted among the universities that have responded to the President’s challenge,” said Ingber. “As the only such college in this region to do so, we look forward to linking our innovative co-curricular programming and Xavier’s mission to form students intellectually, morally and spiritually. Many universities have fine math departments and history departments, but only Xavier also has an office for interfaith community engagement.”