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Grace J. Palmisano Center for Campus Ministry

Alternative Breaks

Merrimack College has been participating in long-distance, weeklong service experiences for more than 50 years.

These experiences have provided students with opportunities to explore their faith in the context of serving with, and for, other communities around the United States. We hope that students will be able to use these interactions to develop a “faith that does justice” through reflecting on our four pillars.

Reflection is the foundation of our program. Campus ministry staff and student leaders facilitate frequent reflection experiences before, during and after alternative break. These experiences are meant to help participants in our programs discover new perspectives about themselves, personally and spiritually. Additionally, reflection helps students engage with their alternative break experiences on a deeper level because they utilize concepts found in Catholic social teaching, such as the inherent dignity of the human person, our rights and responsibilities to others, and solidarity.

 Our Four Pillars

  1. Service: This pillar acknowledges the importance of giving back to others in actions such as building homes or serving at a soup kitchen. However, we believe that “service” is a lifestyle. Even though participants serve for only a week, this service is meant to inspire a deeper commitment to serving others in every aspect of life, especially as members of the Merrimack community.
  2. Community: This pillar highlights the importance of sharing experiences with one another. We come together as communities of participants who reflect together, serve and build relationships with the individuals and communities for whom we serve.
  3. Solidarity: Formerly living “simply,” this pillar emphasizes the importance of humility and presence in the communities where we serve. We seek to enter these communities without pretense in order to create mutual relationships of friendship and love with the people whom we encounter during our time in our service placements.
  4. Social Justice: This broad term implies that our Alternative Break experiences are only the beginning of understanding the complex lives of the communities where we serve. Social justice challenges our participants to better understand unjust social structures that may exist in the locations where we serve, and take action to create awareness about these issues on Merrimack’s campus.

Finally, every dimension of our alternative break programs seek to embody the Augustinian values that inform the academic, social and spiritual dimensions of the Merrimack experience.

Click on the top left button of the interactive map to see where we went last year and where we plan to go this year!