The University of Dallas is sometimes referred to by its students, lovingly, as a “bubble,” a sanctuary from the world outside, a place where students can escape from the pressing tradition of modernity and be surrounded by other Catholic students whose values align with their own.
Yet, sometimes, we forget the most basic premise of Catholicism, the foundation of the Apostolic tradition of the Church — a question asked to Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
On my first day of class at UD, we discussed how Aristotle views the community as reaching toward a higher good. The themes of selflessness, kindness and service are foundational aspects of an education at UD.
Yet, they only make the world better if we look to our neighbors and break the barrier, or “bubble,” between us and the community. Our faith requires this of us.
Pope Francis summarizes it for us: “ Please don’t see life from afar. Live it. Jesus didn’t stay out in a balcony. Instead, He got involved. Follow Jesus’ example.”
On Nov. 6, 2021, I saw these themes materialize on campus, as the first Big Event: Serving Irving took place. Dr. Gregory Roper, dean of students, brought his lawnmower in his Camry and Dr. Tammy Leonard, professor of economics, was weeding garden beds and planting flowers. Over 230 students spent the day serving their neighbors in Irving. We broke the barrier that day.
As I help the Big Event Executive Council prepare for this year’s event, on Nov. 12, I see the impact of getting to know your community. I receive calls, visit homes and talk with Irving residents about what we do here at UD.
And we show it, too, by offering to spend the day helping however we can — perhaps making their lives a little better. When I explain what we do here, they no longer think us to be “The University of Texas AT Dallas” but know us to be the University OF Dallas, at our home off of 1845 East Northgate.
We’re fresh off of Charity Week here at the university. You gave your last dollar to jail your professor, so I won’t ask you to give money. Instead, I challenge you to break the little bubble we have here at UD. Go to Crossroads food pantry and give out food to those who need it, go pick up trash with Keep Irving Beautiful, or spend a few hours on Nov. 12 weeding and gardening for the elderly in Irving through the Big Event.
Maybe then, when Jesus asks us “who is your neighbor?”, we will have an answer.