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.

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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

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Why Jesuit?

My name is Abby Turbenson, and I am currently a freshman at Fordham College at Rose Hill. I also participate in the Manresa Scholars Program. Besides living in the beautiful Loyola Hall, and taking a unique Manresa seminar course, my fellow Scholars and I have the opportunity to participate in dinner-colloquia led by Program faculty.

I decided to attend a recent dinner-colloquium led by Professor Harry Nasuti (Theology). The event was a wonderful opportunity to meet Prof. Nasuti, share a meal, and engage in lively dialogue with the people I have been living and learning with for the past several months. Prof. Nasuti teaches the Manresa Theology seminar, “Sinners, Saints, and Stories,” so the discussion was centered around Jesuit education — what that meant for St. Ignatius (founder of the Jesuits), Archbishop John Hughes (founder of what eventually became Fordham University), and how these figures inform what it means to attend a Jesuit university today.

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Manresa Scholars at Prof. Nasuti’s dinner-colloquium.

Being a Jesuit university means that as a school, Fordham has a different role in the lives of its students than another university would have. Fordham succeeds only if it graduates men and women who are ready to live lives that uphold the fundamental values of its founding tradition. In other words, Fordham graduates must be men and women for and with others; otherwise, Fordham has not met its duty.

Recalling a talk that some of us had attended during orientation, my fellow students and I brought up the fact that Fordham has an obligation to uphold academic freedom while taking a moral stance on pressing issues. We found this balance to be of immediate importance by recalling a recent email from Fr. Joseph McShane, S.J., President of Fordham, regarding a controversial speaker who was invited by a club to speak on campus, but whose ideas struck some as at odds with Fordham’s founding ideals.

Our discussion clarified important items about the role of a Jesuit university, and also left me with meaningful questions of my own. Where do I fit into this educational system? Must I always agree with the stance that the University takes, and where does my critical voice emerge? These questions have spilled over from the colloquium into my conversations with friends in more casual settings. It is important to me that I participate actively in Fordham’s culture, and I am heartened to know that my peers are also pursuing this goal.

Abby Turbenson, FCRH 2021
Manresa Scholar, 2017-2018

 

Manresa Staff Spotlight: Rev. Lito Salazar, S.J.

In his third year with the Manresa Scholars Program, Fr. Lito Salazar, S.J. continues to bring an important essence to the character and values of this living-learning community. He says, “My presence to the Manresa community is that of an adult witness to genuine human living and loving. In particular, it is that of a vowed religious man, a Jesuit and priest.”

As the as the House Master and Executive Director of Campus Ministry, Fr. Lito defines his Manresa identity as “simply a pLito_280_2_for_website.jpgriest or minister who leads Manresa participants in prayer, preaches in Church, gives talks on Jesuit history and Ignatian spirituality, helps RAs and RDs plan and execute programs and service projects, or is available for consultation and advice on matters of faith and reason, personal and academic.” On top of this, he is an essential voice in our Reflecting programs within the Shared Expectations model. Keep an eye out for a few of his programs in the fall such as “Reflection in the Botanical Gardens,” or “Spirituality and Dreams.”

Additionally, Fr. Lito holds weekly Mass in Loyola Hall’s St. Ignatius Chapel on Thursdays at 9:00pm with an optional social gathering afterwards in his own apartment. He explains, “To those who seek more than a passing engagement, those who enter into conversations of depth in Loyola 302, I hope to embody for them the personal and inter-personal meaningfulness of life, where success and achievement are compatible with suffering and disappointment because it is oriented to something bigger than ourselves, more loving and more forgiving than we can ever imagine. That meaningfulness translates directly into a life of generous service and of trying to make a difference to a broken world and a suffering human community.”

In welcoming the Class of 2021 Scholars to the Manresa Program, Fr. Lito says, “My great desire is for Manresa Scholars to experience something of what Ignatius of Loyola experienced during his less than a year sojourn in that small Catalan town: a totally transformative experience, the beginning of a new life, a turning point. I want to see the Manresa residential program become a staging point for their lives to be marked by depth of thinking and imagination (intellectual, affective), passionate living (virtuous, disciplined), and always being in love (committed, self-sacrificing).”

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

An Introduction to Shared Expectations

As members of the Manresa community, your living-learning experience is enhanced by authentic participation in shared activities. The Shared Expectations programming model is a way for Scholars to better understand and embrace four key Jesuit values: Learning, Sharing, Serving, and Reflecting.

Manresa Scholars are required to attend at least one program from each category during each semester, but most often, Scholars find themselves coming back for more to engage their intellectual interests and personal passions.

Learning
Programs produced and led by the in-house, live-in Manresa tutors allow students to fulfill their Learning requirement. Beneficial seminars introduce incoming freshmen to college life and the upcoming professional world. Examples include “Email Etiquette: Presenting Yourself Well,” “Writing Your First College Paper,” as well as multiple exam
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Sharing
Through professor led dinner-colloquia or guest lectures, Scholars are able to bother themselves intellectually, outside of the classroom. The programs can link up with themes of the Manresa Seminars, generate discussions on the role of Jesuit values in the world, or present ideas focused on the lives of millennials themselves. Previous topics include “Social Media and the Search for Self,” and “Love,” a Keyword Colloquium with Fordham President, Father McShane (see photo, courtesy of Zach Asato).

Serving
Serving programs tend to leave a significant impact on the Scholars, as service-learning work within a different environment allows for a unique experience. Whether serving food to the homeless in the city, or participating in a park clean-up in the Bronx (see photo), Manresa Scholars develop a better understanding and appreciation of the communities outside of Fordham’s campus.IMG_2944.jpg

Reflecting
This category allows Scholars to explore their relationship with topics such as ethics and justice, and connect more deeply to the spiritual values of the Manresa Program and Jesuit education. These programs are often coordinated in partnership with Fordham’s Campus Ministry and our resident Jesuit Housemaster, Father Lito Salazar, S.J., creating valuable connections for Scholars to carry on beyond their year in Manresa.

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

Manresa’s Finest: Nicole Benevento

Over the past four years, Nicole Benevento, FCRH 2017, has been an integral part of the Manresa community. She entered the Program as a freshman participant, served as its Intern as a sophomore and junior, and as live-in Tutor her senior year. Our community has truly benefited from her positive energy, dedication to student success, and Ignatian grit and kindness.

Benevento aspires to a career in the publishing industry following her internships with America Media, Fordham University Press, and Penguin Random House. She’ll take the skills and lessons learned from ManDSC_0004.JPGresa. Nicole notes that “Manresa helped me to feel comfortable and confident in my own skin, and I plan on having that newly-found confidence exude in my interviews and during meetings and interactions throughout my publishing career.”

Amid countless Manresa programs, she notes NYC Urban Immersion as her most memorable. The experience of volunteering at nearby soup kitchens and with homeless youth, and staying at Fordham Bedford Housing in the Bronx, ignited her passion for bridging the gap between rich and poor. In true Ignatian spirit, Nicole became bothered by inequality. “It was such an incredible experience because we were not only reflecting on the injustice in the world, but also witnessing it firsthand. It set something off inside me…it was the first time I really understood how privileged I am compared to others, and it didn’t sit well with me,” said Benevento.

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Benevento turns to the famous Babe Ruth quote for inspiration: “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Nicole earned a double major in English and Italian and minored in Marketing, and served in Campus Ministry and on the boards of the Fordham Club and as vice president of Fordham’s chapter of the National Jesuit Honor Society Alpha Sigma Nu. “You will meet amazing people, form lifelong friendships, and create lasting memories if you take the initiative. College may seem overwhelming, but trust me, in the end each moment is so worth it,” said Benevento.

The Manresa Community wishes Benevento the best. Thank you, Nicole, for your service to Fordham. We look forward to having you back to share your experiences and wisdom with future Manresa Scholars.

Anja Asato, FCRH 2018
Manresa Programming and Marketing Fellow, 2016-2017

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:

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

Integrated Learning Community Spotlight: West Wing

The Manresa Scholars program is not the only Integrated Learning Community (ILC) on campus that engages the academic, spiritual, and social components of students’ lives. The West Wing ILC for Ignatian Leadership and Civic Service is a program for sophomores, many of whom were in the Manresa Program as freshmen. Learn more about an exciting service opportunity that West Wing Scholars took part in this semester.


A group of West Wing Scholars headed to St. Francis Xavier Parish Mission recently in search of a meaningful opportunity to learn and serve the Manhattan homeless community. We arrived on site to help Xavier with one of its most important outreach programs– their Sunday meal.

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Image source: XavierMission.org

Throughout the afternoon, the Fordham group was separated and placed into different stations. Some of us greeted guests at the door, handed out trays with meals, or helped clean. When asked about his experience, West Wing Scholar (and former Manresa Scholar) Neil Joyce said, “Serving meals at St. Francis Xavier was a humbling, humanizing experience. It is an experience that teaches one to be forever grateful of the countless liberties they have, while also serving as a call to action to volunteer and serve for and with others.”

WW Scholar Rosalyn Kutsch echoed these sentiments by saying that “Volunteering at Xavier was a startling and valuable reminder of the importance of stepping outside of the comfort we make for ourselves and engaging with the unfamiliar. Most importantly, this work serves to remind use that at the end of the day, we are all humans who all need a little extra help sometimes.”

WW Scholar Brian Daaleman (another former Manresa Scholar) added that those he interacted with “served to remind [him] that those trapped in the cycle of homelessness each have their own unique story and are not just another statistic. Our service also provided a physical representation of the immediacy and gravity of this issue that sadly is often neglected.”

Each job we were given and interaction we experienced was full of meaning and purpose, bringing us closer to the Jesuit tradition of serving those in need as men and women for and with others.

Monica Olveira, FCRH 2018
West Wing ILC Intern, 2016-2017

Emily Mohri, FCRH 2017
West Wing ILC Resident Assistant, 2016-2017


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