January 17, 2023


The University community came together on Jan. 16 for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff volunteered at different service projects  throughout Washington, D.C. 

Organized by Campus Ministry and Cardinal Service Corps, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is held to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. The federal holiday is not just a day off from work or school, but a designated national day of service to carry out a message of love to the community. The University began this tradition in 2006. 

Emmjolee Mendoza-Waters, Campus Ministry’s director of community engagement, social justice, and Catholic social teaching initiatives, gave opening remarks to the packed Pryzbyla Center Great Rooms.

“Over the 17 years of celebrating and honoring Dr. King’s life through service, this day has only grown. It has become a part of who we are, a university rooted in service and justice to the community. It has been a beautiful blessing to see how service is a part of the fabric of Catholic University,” said Mendoza-Waters.

Participants made food for the hungry, cleaned parks and neighborhoods, visited the elderly, and served those in need at the Franciscan Monastery, St. Mary’s Cemetery, Washington Hebrew Congregation, So Others Might Eat (SOME) and  Anacostia Riverkeeper.

Laura Masur, an assistant professor of anthropology, took several dozen University students to Sacred Heart Chapel in Bowie, Md., to clear brush at the parish’s cemetery, which is the final resting place for enslaved, free and White persons.  The students marked potential gravesites with flags for further research. The local and national media, including The Washington Post, WTOP, DC News Now, NBC 4 Washington, reported on the acts of service.

University President Dr. Peter Kilpatrick also gave remarks at the start of the day. He worked alongside other students and volunteers by helping to package food at the Washington Hebrew Congregation.

“Dr. King’s legacy is a great sign of what a selfless servant does,” said philosophy senior Huey Bodger, who serves as social action chair of the Black Student Alliance Dr. King did a great job of that and he left a great legacy for us, namely all of these Catholic University students. This day of service allows us to capitalize and follow up on everything that Dr. King did.”