The Gonzaga Service Program provides experiences that increase in depth and intensity as the student matures—what begins as a sheltered exposure to the poor during freshman year grows into deeper relationships with society’s marginalized by graduation.
Every senior is also required to complete 40 hours of community service—20 before classes begin in August, and 20 more during the academic year. In the classroom that year, during a Religion course called Social Justice, students reflect on their interactions with the poor and marginalized. They also learn to observe examples of structural injustice, develop a critical analysis of their causes, and anticipate solutions in the light of the faith-justice tradition.
Local Service Opportunities
Gonzaga’s urban location affords us many opportunities to serve those who are poor, hungry, or physically or mentally challenged.
The McKenna Center is a drop-in center for homeless men that’s located in the basement of St. Aloysius Church, right on Gonzaga's campus. Students in the Freshman and Sophomore classes are invited to volunteer during their lunch periods to serve lunch to the guests there.
Unique Residential is a nursing home next door to Gonzaga on Eye street. Every Tuesday after school, a group of Gonzaga students spends time with the residents there, reading to them, playing games, talking, and building community.
In 2005, Gonzaga was proud to open the inaugural high school chapter of Campus Kitchen. A national food recycling program, Campus Kitchen uses food that might otherwise be discarded by cafeterias to make nutritious meals for the elderly and home-bound. On Mondays and Thursdays from 3-5pm, Gonzaga students of all grade levels prepare meals in the McKenna Center kitchen. On Tuesdays and Fridays from 3-5pm, students deliver the meals to neighbors in need in our community.
McKenna's Wagon is a mobile soup kitchen that departs daily from Martha's Table, near U Street, and serves the homeless. A Gonzaga group goes out every Wednesday evening as part of this program. Each week, we take three sophomores.
All students are invited to play chess with students from the Washington Jesuit Academy, a Jesuit middle school serving boys from low-income areas in Washington, D.C., on Monday afternoons from 3-5pm.
Service Immersion Trips
Led by members of the Gonzaga faculty and staff, Gonzaga outreach groups travel to and serve the needs of a host community. While there, students live simply, build community, participate in prayer and reflection, and work to understand and build social justice.
The Apopka immersion trip provides a firsthand experience of the present immigration dilemma facing our country. Rising seniors spend the week living with immigrant families in homestays and working on farms and in nurseries throughout Apopka, FL. Students will work primarily with the Hope Community Center.
The group of rising seniors will spent the week at Camden’s Oscar Romero Center & experience urban poverty in new ways by living simply, learning about issues through a Catholic lens, and serving at many of the city’s social service agencies. Because students work with a variety of sites, they are able to encounter justice from various angles.
Students will travel to Pine Ridge, SD and be immersed in the culture of the Lakota tribe. The group of rising seniors will learn about life on the reservation while working with the Red Cloud Indian School and assisting nearby families. Students will learn the historical, economic, political, and societal barriers that the Lakota people face today.
Rising seniors will spend the week Jerusalem Farm, living simply in a Catholic intentional community. The group will learn about urban poverty, sustainable farming, and environmental justice. Participants will have the opportunity to work on the farm located in the city, prepare meals, and deliver food to those in need.
Rising seniors will travel to Nogales, AZ & Nogales, Mexico to learn of the realities of immigration. Students work with the Kino Border Initiative, a Jesuit organization seeking to meet the needs of migrants. The group will work at the KBI soup kitchen, meet with US Border Patrol, hear a deportation debriefing, & more. Passport mandatory.
Rising seniors will work alongside Homeboy Industries, founded by Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, and other ministries that support those living on Skid Row. The group will learn about gang violence, incarceration, and urban poverty in the city, as well as spend time with the people of Dolores Mission Parish, where they will stay for the week.
Students (rising seniors) will partner with Nazareth Farm to live out the pillars of the Gonzaga Outreach program in rural Appalachia. Days will consist of home repair and construction, as well as meeting people in the community. There will be an intentional focus on simple living & learning about rural poverty through a faith perspective.
TheMcKennaImmersion is anencounterwith urban poverty and run right out of our ownMcKennaCenter; students will sleep on campus for the week. Students will get to know the men at the center, as well as serve at organizations such as SOME, Martha’s Table, & DC Central Kitchen. Rising seniors serve as student leaders to freshman and sophomore participants.
This project is open to freshmen and sophomores who are interested in growing in empathy for the rural poor of Emmitsburg, MD. While there, service projects include yard work, handy-work, and relational activities with the poor, elderly, and disabled of the community. Rising seniors serve as student leaders to freshman and sophomore participants.
Gonzaga's service requirement teaches you a sense of conviction. It makes you unsettled. As long as there’s progress to be made, as long as there are people suffering ... it stirs up, like, this hunger for justice.
--Christian Tabash '17
Educating young men in the Jesuit tradition since 1821