Marquette has a seemingly overwhelming number of service and faith organizations on campus. While there are many unique groups on campus, Hannah Bessenecker, a junior in the College of Nursing, recommends the Intervarsity Program.
“There are not a lot of organizations on campus that do not combine most service and faith,” Bessenecker said. “The Intervarsity program is unique, because it combines both aspects together.”
Intervarsity is a national nonprofit collegiate organization founded in 1877 at the University of Cambridge. The organization was founded for Christian students of all denominations and backgrounds to meet one another.
Intervarsity runs a weekly Bible group, which has sessions for men, women and freshmen. These groups also meet in a larger group called Common Ground. The group meets for prayer, worship and community. Every week, a new speaker is brought in. Last semester’s theme was the Kingdom of God; members discussed God’s qualities and interpretations of the Kingdom.
This year’s theme is lifestyle and how being a Christian relates to daily life. The latest speech was about being a Christian in the Bible, what it means to be a Christian in the environment and Christians’ role in the government.
Today the organization embodies the same Christian principles, although it has significantly grown since its founding. The Marquette Intervarsity chapter engages students in social justice and welfare, taking a stance in economic matters, such as the foreclosure on many homes in Milwaukee.
The group also focuses on service. Feed 500 will occur on Feb. 5, where students make two lunches, one for themselves and one for a person in need. Each student shares lunch with a homeless person to help build a relationship.
“Most people walk past when they see a homeless person,” Bessenecker said. “This event is supposed to get someone to learn about someone you don’t usually interact with.”
Another event coming up is Dance4Poverty on Friday, Feb. 11, which raises money for partners in health. This year the organization is raising money for Haiti earthquake relief.
Ana Harsch, a fifth year in the College of Engineering, said her favorite memory with the Intervarsity program was at a conference made up of workshops and seminars to learn about the Milwaukee community.
“You detach yourself from school, and reflect and relax for a little while,” Harsch said.
Bessenecker’s favorite memory was last year’s spring break trip to St. Louis.
“It’s a huge learning experience. It’s all hands on learning. This break we are going to Providence Island, and we are working for refugees in a kid’s program,” Bessenecker said.
While it may seem cliché, Marquette’s Jesuit mission resonates through many students in faith activities and service in Milwaukee’s greatest areas of need.
by Liz McGovern