Introduction to Urban Immersion

Over the next few days, a group of seven Manresa Scholars and several staff members will participate in the Manresa Urban Immersion Spring Break Service Project. Taking place from Wednesday evening through Saturday afternoon, the group will use the first portion of their spring break to engage in a variety of Community-Engaged Learning programs and events in the model of simple living and Ignatian solidarity. Scholars participating will ultimately fulfil their entire Shared Expectations spring requirement through the experiences presented to them throughout the four-day project. Scholars are unaware of the details of project, allowing them to be challenged and intellectually bothered through the unfolding schedule of events.


Scholars discuss the 2016 HBO documentary, Class Divide.

Tonight’s Urban Immersion theme was “Examening NYC Urban Challenges,” in which the group participated in a Community-Engaged Learning reflection centered around structures of injustice found in a familiar New York City location. We welcomed Emily Horihan, FCRH 2014, a staff member in the FCRH Dean’s Office and a Manresa alumna, who presented the Scholars with an HBO documentary film, Class Divide. Produced in 2016, the documentary focuses on the neighborhood gentrification of the West Chelsea area that surrounds the High Line. As this is an area these Fordham students are familiar with from their city explorations, it was a unique experience to see and discuss the contrasting identities within the area that were most likely not seen to the naked eye of a New York college student.

The documentary focused specifically on the public housing that ultimately fell in the shadows of Avenues, a private school, and the high-priced real estate and housing developments that have occurred since the development and popularity of the High Line. The ideas of gentrification, socioeconomic status, and human nature in correlation with money and mindsets were the main takeaways discussed and reflected upon. Scholars and staff commented on the specific storylines followed, of young children and families either growing up in public housing or attending the private school in this area, and how the contrasts of socioeconomic status, race, and personal responsibility determined the outcomes of these everyday experiences. To close the discussion, Dean Parmach had the Scholars self-reflect on “hopeful messages” to those of different “class divides” featured in the film.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s full day of events!

Lindsey Register, FCRH 2020
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2017-2018


Intertwined Institutions

My name is Henry Sternberg, and I am currently a freshman at Fordham College at Rose Hill. I recently went on a tour of St. Patrick’s Cathedral through the Manresa Scholars Program. The event was thoroughly enjoyable and interesting.

My family lives an hour away from New York, so I had visited the Cathedral prior to the tour through the Manresa Program. One of my earliest memories at the Cathedral was when my grandparents brought me to a Mass conducted in German before the Steuben Day Parade. I remember sitting in the pews through the Mass, totally unaware of what was going on. Not only was my German inadequate, but there were also a lot of nuances in the Cathedral itself that I did not recognize. The most attractive aspect of revisiting the Cathedral through the Manresa Program was the opportunity to reflect upon how my perception of the world has changed since my first visit.


Upon meeting for the tour, Dean Parmach told us our tour guides for the excursion were two Fordham alumni, Loual Puliafito (FCRH 2004) and James Cappabianca (GSE 2015). The connections between Fordham and St. Patrick’s Cathedral were a central theme of the tour. John Bishop Hughes, the first Archbishop of New York, was also the founder of what would become Fordham University. Our experienced guides were able to show us areas of the Cathedral not normally shown on public tours, like St. Patrick’s crypt, where Hughes was buried, and a different room which held his chair. Hughes set up networks of Catholic institutions while expanding the diocese of New York. Now, when I walk past the statue of him on campus at Fordham, I can situate his life in context. Archbishop John Hughes’ legacy lives on through the institutions he founded.

Our tour also focused on architectural details. Every feature in the Cathedral is purposeful. Arrangements of plants, each one unique, are chiseled on the ceiling of the Cathedral. The little variations in greenery still contribute to the central image of the Garden of Eden, which the Cathedral aims to emulate. The plants’ differences convey the beauty and complexity of God’s creations.  The tour highlighted dimensions of the Cathedral I had never detected. There is always an opportunity for deeper understanding; sometimes, it just takes a new lens to discover it. In this way, the Manresa Program teaches us to live in the context of Jesuit teachings and to expand our worldview.

Henry Sternberg, FCRH 2021
Manresa Scholar, 2017-2018

Paddling into the Fall Semester

The annual Manresa kayaking excursion provides Scholars with the opportunity to step outside of the Bronx, connect with new friends, and explore the city. During your first weekend as a Fordham Ram, the Manresa community travels to the Hudson River Pier to take in the views of the Upper West Side from the river itself. After gearing up with lifejackets and oars, students can paddle and splash around in single or double kayaks, bonding with their new community.


The public boathouse is located on Pier 96, steps away from the city streets, giving students the opportunity to go explore for themselves after kayaking. As a Manresa alumna, I loved this experience, as it was a great opportunity to meet new people and get to know a different part of New York; we stuck around the Upper West Side to grab lunch and take a walk through Central Park.

This event will take place on Saturday, 9/2, and is sure to set the tone for the exciting excursions and experiences that are to come for the Manresa Scholars!

Lindsey Register, FCRH 2020
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2017-2018


NYC Urban Immersion Service Project

Manresa Scholars hold the values of service, learning, community, and reflection to high regard, and this doesn’t change when classes let out for vacation. The annual NYC Urban Immersion Spring Break is a unique opportunity for Manresa Scholars to take part in a 2-day program focusing on service and living in the Jesuit tradition.

Program highlights included volunteering within the Bronx community, a visit to St. Nicholas of Tollentine Church and Parish Center, and morning prayer walk through the New York Botanical Garden. The program was co-led by Dean Parmach and Manresa Tutor Nicole Benevento. Loyola Resident Director, Matt Dishman, shares his experience below.

As the Resident Director to Loyola Hall, I had the pleasure of observing eight freshman students sacrifice the start of their Spring Break to participate in an immersion experience that intentionally made them feel uncomfortable. These students signed up for the annual Manresa Scholars Urban Immersion experience, not knowing what they were getting themselves into.

On the first night, these eight students learned they were going to have to, “live simply.” This included only taking one shower, sleeping on the floor, eating just enough, and carrying the same bottle of water for an entire weekend. Dean Parmach, who facilitated our weekend, stated the goal was to experience dissonance in “our heads, hearts, and hands” – and that’s just what we did.

The goal of living simply was to reflect the thousands of New Yorkers who are less privileged than the typical Fordham college student. Throughout Urban Immersion we explored this idea through community service, spiritual engagement, personal experience, reflection, discussion, etc.

One of the most unexpected yet impactful moments of the weekend came when walking the High Line. Our team had just watched a meaningful documentary on the Chelsea area and the topic of gentrification. On our final morning, we found ourselves walking where the documentary was filmed (which was not a part of our original schedule). To see the contrasting socioeconomic neighborhoods featured in the documentary firsthand left an evident impact on me and the students of our group. Below is a photo of our team in said neighborhood and on the High Line:


We walked away from the weekend cold and exhausted, all very excited for a typical Spring Break.

Manresa Fall Semester Highlights

The Manresa experience is filled with academic, spiritual, and personal growth. This past semester, Manresa Scholars had the opportunity to attend over 35 programs focusing on the five Shared Expectations: Sharing, Collaborating, Serving, Reflecting, and Learning.

These evening and weekend enrichment programs are carefully planned to complement what Scholars learn in their Manresa Seminars, while providing additional opportunities for them to come together as a community.


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Manresa Scholars took a trip into Manhattan for kayaking on the Hudson River during the first weekend of the semester.



Manresa Resident Assistants, Resident Tutors, and Jesuit Housemaster Fr. Lito Salazar, S.J., enjoyed the Manresa Welcome Picnic, an annual tradition.



Scholars spent a Sunday volunteering at St. Francis Xavier parish, serving food to those in need.



Dean Robert Parmach, the Program’s Faculty Director, took a group of Scholars to explore Central Park on a Friday afternoon.



VP for Mission Integration and Planning Fr. Michael McCarthy, S.J., led a dinner colloquium on the topic of “Immersion,” in which Scholars discussed being part of both the Fordham and Bronx community.



Scholars visited Bartow-Pell Park in the Bronx twice this semester to clean up the park grounds and assist with their annual Harvest Festival for young children.



In collaboration with Campus Ministry’s Ignatian Week, Dean Parmach and Fr. Lito led a colloquium on “Unpacking the Millennial Digitized Mind” to prompt reflection on how social media impacts the ways we think and interact with others.



The Manresa Community celebrated the end of the semester with a formal Christmas Party.

Central Park Excursion

Fordham’s location gives Manresa students the invaluable opportunity to explore the city. On a recent Friday afternoon, Dean Parmach took Manresa Scholars on a trip to the iconic New York attraction, Central Park.

Students took a scenic walk around the reservoir and down to Sheep’s Meadow. The Manresa Program truly cares for the whole student, encouraging both academics and exploration of your new home, New York City!

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For several Scholars, the excursion was their first visit to Central Park.


Manresa Scholars enjoyed a quintessential late summer afternoon at Central Park.


Manresa Faculty Director, Dean Robert Parmach, with Manresa Canine Mascot, Peewee.

Education, Experience, and Action: Manresa Urban Immersion Service Project

To kick off spring break Manresa-style, the Manresa Staff planned an “Urban Immersion” service project.IMG_4109
Limited to only twelve Scholars, the project offered me a new perspective not only of New York City, but also of the people whom I encounter every day, even myself.

One of the most exciting (and nerve-wracking) parts of Urban Immersion was not knowing what was coming next. The itinerary was a secret; we received only a rough outline a few days before the trip. This was a blessing in disguise, because it allowed us to immerse ourselves fully in the present, not the future.

Day one focused on educating ourselves on the social issues facing the Bronx and NYC overall. We watched Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream. This stirring film led to an insightful discussion. We concluded the day with reflections in our journals and a guided Ignatian meditation in the St. Ignatius of Loyola Chapel.

Day two was centered on experiencing the difficulties of those less privileged than us. We spent the day in rainy Manhattan, participating in a variety of exercises that gave us an idea of what life is like for those living in poverty. Afterwards, we attended mass at St. Francis Xavier Parish and had a discussion with Jesuits there about their work with the poor. They offered some words of wisdom to our team for our time at Fordham.

On day three, we put what we had learned so far into action. We volunteered at the Bartow-Pell Mansion in Pelham Bay, where we met some awesome people. This experience was rewarding because we saw results and knew we were making an impact.

Urban Immersion ended the following afternoon. We spent the morning at the Jesuit infirmary on campus, Murray-Weigel Hall, where we attended mass with the residents and heard fascinating and inspiring stories about Jesuits who were able to make an impact both overseas and here at Fordham. Urban Immersion was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had so far. I felt like I grew as a person, and as a member of the Manresa Community.

Francesca Russo, FCRH 2018
Manresa Scholar and 2015-2016 Loyola Hall RA

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