Service learning and civic engagement, community outreach and partnership, spirituality of service and an institute on Catholic social teaching were the four main goals the Wolfington Center announced at its opening 10 years ago. These goals have remained the same to this day, making the celebration of its 10-year anniversary, held Wednesday, Sept. 19, an important event on campus, both for faculty and students.
At the event in the Mansion a number of speakers ranging from the head of Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center (CHOC) Genny O’Donnell, to benefactor J. Eustace Wolfington, himself. All addressed and praised the work of the center thus far and expressing their expectations for the years to come.
Since its creation, the Wolfington Center has helped to fortify students’ intellectual and spiritual development with commitments to social justice and human dignity. This is done through partnerships with community programs, including the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Catholic Relief Services and the community of Norristown, and classes dedicated to spreading awareness of the problems not only around the corner, but also around the world.
The allegiances students have made to such goals have not gone unnoticed. Speaker Genny O’Donnell talked about how homeless residents of her center, have been invited to attend lectures on Cabrini campus and have left feeling as though they were at home at Cabrini. She stated in her speech “It’s remarkable that what you do, allows that for so many people.”
This celebration was not only an event to honor the Wolfington Center, but also the man who made its creation possible, J. Eustace Wolfington. When asked why he decided to start a center for social justice, he responded, “Well, I think social justice and spirituality are the most important parts of anyone’s life. I went to Notre Dame for two and a half years, and every hall had a chapel and just a great spiritual connection, which really helped me in life as I went out into the world, because whatever you do, you always have to come back to that. That’s what gives you the courage to do things you don’t usually do; to do things that you believe.”
Wolfington stated how impressed he was with the development of not only the Center, but also the school as a whole, and was excited for the plans the new executive director of the Wolfington Center, Dr. John Francis Burke, spoke of.
Burke also shared his excitement and said that he looked forward to the future of the center and has many plans for its continued improvement and outreach. He went on to say “What’s great about this school is its engagement in these activities.”
Over the next decade, he is confident of the Wolfington Center’s ability to send more students to more conferences, bring visiting scholars to speak on campus, hold reading group workshops and conferences for faculty as well. He also hopes to continue to strengthen the bridge building between the neighborhood and campus.
“Today was very successful as a celebration of the impact of the Wolfington Center,” said Cabrini President Dr. Marie Angelella George. “It was a bit of stepping back from it all so that we could appreciate what the Wolfington Center has really done and been able to do.”