By Monica Cruz, Director, Ettling Center for Civic Leadership

Shortly after I began my work at the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership, I came to realize and appreciate a distinct “point of pride” at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW). Our institution is the only one in San Antonio that asks each undergraduate student to volunteer and serve their community for a minimum of 45 hours before they graduate. This has been a requirement since 1989, when we were Incarnate Word College, and since that time our students have contributed hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours locally, regionally and internationally. 

In his 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis noted that “We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing. All around us we begin to see nurses with soul, teachers with soul, politicians with soul, people who have chosen deep down to be with others and for others” (273). In essence, Pope Francis is telling us that the moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members, thus the poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. Answering the call to be with the most vulnerable is what the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word have modeled for nearly 150 years and it is our hope that through service to others, our students will graduate as “concerned and enlightened citizens” who have been transformed through service and are passionate about creating a just and peaceful society that respects the dignity of every person they encounter. There is no doubt that thousands of alumni have continued to carry out this mission. 

Praised be the Incarnate Word!