Mercy Works

What is Mercy Works?

Mercy Works is a joint initiative between Campus Ministry and the Center for Social Concerns. It seeks to bring students and community members together in sustained, transformative collaborations committed to undiminished dignity for all human beings. It invites students to integrate people-first community service and spiritual enrichment.

Students in the program engage in weekly service in the South Bend community, working together in small groups when possible. Students also gather to reflect together on their experiences of receiving and extending mercy on and off campus in light of Catholic Social Tradition, including the work of scholars such as Henri Nouwen.

Program elements include:

  • 6-week Commitment - New groups start each 6 months of the academic year. However, students are encouraged to participate for at least one full semester.
  • Matched Service Experience - Serve 2-4 hours a week remotely or in person at a community organization based on your interests
  • Peer Support - Carpool Curiosities is a chance to engage with small groups to reflect with other students that share your interests
  • Community Night Dinners - Entire program gathering monthly for guided reflection and relationship building

Is Mercy Works still active during COVID-19 restrictions?

Yes! All our partners are committed to offering you meaningful opportunities to positively impact the greater South Bend community from a safe, physical distance. All reflection activities and program gatherings will also take place in person with respect to the safe protocol of the university as well as individual community partner sites.  Due to the ever developing nature of COVID-19 safety practices, we hope to continue to offer remote volunteering as an option throughout the 2021-2022 academic semesters, as well as the winter and summer breaks .

Why Mercy Works?

Mercy Works is inspired by the Catholic social teachings of “mercy.” Mercy is at the core of Pope Francis’s message. He writes: “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith.” The Christian life is one of receiving and in turn sharing Christ’s mercy. Jesus compels and calls us all to go out and feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, and ultimately share his loving mercy with all our neighbors.

This devotion to each other’s human dignity is a duty, not only for Christians, but all who believe in positive social change. Mercy Works uses principles of spirituality to boost this sense of interconnectedness and help students embrace their own spirituality and a personal relationship with religion at whatever stage of contextualizing they are in.

This is at times a difficult call to follow as a student. Whether it's not knowing how to serve, how to see those who are in need, or feeling uncomfortable doing it on one's own, there can be many barriers to doing the works of mercy. Mercy Works is designed to help students identify and address these potential challenges.

What are the kinds of work one can engage in as a part of Mercy Works?

Partnering with community sites, we invite students to participate in the corporal and spiritual work of mercy named by the Church. Our community partners include the following local agencies:

How do I participate?

Please fill out the following form and one of the Mercy Works facilitators will reach out to you to talk personally about current opportunities to participate. During that conversation, you will have the chance to talk about your specific availability and interests. All Mercy Works placements are tailored to students' particular situation. If you cannot access the form below, you can do so here.


Background Checks: Once confirmed of your participation, you may find that you need to have a background check completed. While not all community partners require that student volunteers complete a background check, many do. Please check with your community partner to verify if you will need a background check for your Mercy Works experience. If your community partner does require a background check, please contact Lulu Moyo ( for more information about the process of completing a background check. Please also note that the background check process can take several days and many organizations require the process to be completed before a volunteer's first interaction with a client. Please contact your community partner early about what they require!


Becky Czarnecki
Coordinator of Pastoral Care
Campus Ministry

Rachelle Simons
Assistant Director of Community Standards

Lulu Moyo
Assistant Director of Community-Based Learning Program
Center for Social Concerns