Service in South Bend

Mercy Works

Mercy Works seeks to bring students and community members together in mutual appreciation of the dignity of all human beings. 

Students engage in weekly service, working together in small groups to encounter people in the South Bend community. Students also gather for dinner once a month to reflect together on their experiences of receiving and extending mercy on and off campus in light of Catholic Social Tradition and issues of justice and the common good.  No past service experience is required, and students of all faith traditions and backgrounds are welcome!

Key elements of this program include:

  • 6-week Commitment - New groups start throughout the academic year and students are welcome to continue at their sites beyond the six-week commitment. 
  • Matched Service Experience - Serve 2-4 hours a week in person at a community organization based on your interests.
  • Build Community - Get to know other Notre Dame students with shared values and build friendships across campus and beyond. 
  • Community Night Dinners - Gather with the entire program monthly for prayer, guided reflection, relationship building, and delicious food!

Why Mercy Works?

Mercy Works is inspired by the Catholic social teachings of mercy. Mercy is at the core of Pope Francis’s message when 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 with others, by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, and ultimately manifesting Jesus’s loving mercy in the world around us.

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

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

Types of service

We invite students to participate in the corporal and spiritual work of mercy named by the Church through partnering with sites in our South Bend community. You may choose to feed the hungry, tutor adults on the road to recovery, play with children, or so much more. Contact us to learn about the sites where you can serve.

How do I participate?

Submit the form below and a campus minister will reach out to you to talk personally about opportunities currently available. They will give you the chance to talk about your specific availability and interests, as all Mercy Works placements are tailored to students' particular situation.  We have so many opportunities for you and believe we can find the perfect fit for any student interested in participating.

Background Check

Once confirmed of your participation, you may need to have a background check completed. While not all community partners require that student volunteers complete a background check, many do. To verify if you will need a background check for your Mercy Works experience, please check directly with your community partner. Please also note that the background check can take several days and many organizations require it 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, +1 574-631-9738