Fairfield University students work in service projects on way to World Youth Day in Sydney

Twenty-three students and five staff members from Fairfield University are in Manila, the Philippines this week, working in service projects arranged by the Australian Province of Jesuits. From there they will make their way to World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, where from July 15 to 20, some 500,000 young people from around the world are expected to join with Pope Benedict XVI in celebrating faith and fellowship.

Fr. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., president of Fairfield University, will meet the group in Sydney and join them for several events there, including the Papal Mass on Sunday, July 20. An additional nine students from Fairfield, who will be studying in Brisbane, Australia, during the fall semesters, will also join the group for World Youth Day.

During the 10-day stay in Manila, the 23 students will work at three sites: a house building project, similar to the Habitat for Humanity program; a health clinic and Jesuit outreach center for people who work and live in and around a dump, presenting them with serious health risks; and at the National Bilibid Prison, where a Jesuit prison service ministers to inmates and their families.

While in the Philippines the group will stay at Ateneo de Manila University, except for two nights when they will live with local families. Conor O'Kane, associate director of Campus Ministry at Fairfield University, said the service portion of their trip "gives us the opportunity to walk in solidarity and in accompaniment with the people who are living on the margins of Filipino society."

When the group reaches Sydney, they will have a two-day retreat to process their experiences in Manila with nearly 1300 other Jesuit college students from Georgetown, Santa Clara, and Regis Universities, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua and elsewhere, who have also been engaged in service trips in Southeast Asia.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 8, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 2

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