Living the Year of Mercy

(reprinted from the Messmer Today alumni magazine, with S2U edits)

LIVING THE YEAR OF MERCY

Messmer Catholic Schools’ students respond to the Holy Father’s call with the Serve 2 Unite program

Pope Francis declared 2016 a Year of Mercy. He has spent the year talking about how Catholics can put the idea of mercy into action, with a special call to young people to take risks and put themselves in the service of others. Laura Hancock, director of Messmer High School’s campus ministry, has been inspired by the Pope’s call as she strengthens existing programs and introduces new service opportunities to students.

“What I have felt in the call of Pope Francis to the Year of Mercy is to be reminded that our daily, lived, real actions of mercy are central to our growth as people of faith,” said Hancock.

One of the most significant new opportunities that Messmer’s campus ministry is offering to students is a program in partnership with Serve 2 Unite. Founded after the Sikh Temple shooting in August 2012, Serve 2 Unite seeks “to make the practice of peace an attractive and valuable way of life to students, transforming school environments via fearless creativity and compassion, in interdependent partnership with local and global peace efforts.”

The organization works towards these goals by connecting students with global mentors and encouraging them to create service learning and art projects focused on themes of peace.

Between ten and thirty Messmer high school students participate in the Serve 2 Unite program on a weekly basis. In 2015-2016, students were engaged in a project about human and sex trafficking, learning from global and local mentors and creating works of art that were displayed at Mount Mary University and Arts@Large. They also participated in the Annual S2U Peace Summit held at UW-Milwaukee.

This year, student participants will be creating service learning projects exploring the theme of reconciliation, with a focus on building partnerships between Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin and local mosques. They have engaged in global mentorship with Yasmin Mulbocus, a former Islamist recruiter who now works to keep young people from joining violent extremist groups, and also with Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin, an Israeli mother and Palestinian father who have both lost children to the conflict and now lead peace efforts worldwide via Parents Circle Family Forum, in partnership with Rufus King High School and Milwaukee High School of the Arts.

“We are really excited in Serve 2 Unite to heed Pope Francis’ call to build bridges and engage in dialogue in the midst of our multicultural and inter-faith world!” Hancock said.

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