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January 31, 2018

To the Mount community:

I knew when I joined the Mount community that I was embarking on a special journey of discovery about a special organization. Part of that journey involves learning about unique traditions and the history behind them. Chief among the traditions I’ve learned about so far is Caritas Day. In case you’re new to the Mount like me, Caritas Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday in January each year and is a day dedicated to giving back. Today, Wednesday, January 31st, the University celebrates a tradition of caring as we mark Caritas Day 2018.

Happy Caritas Day-resizedThe history behind the day

For those not familiar with its history, I’ll share what I’ve learned.

In 1951, a fire devastated the Mount, completely destroying the only building on campus at the time. The people of Halifax came to the rescue, opening their doors to host students and classroom lectures. In thanks, the Sisters of Charity—Halifax (our founders) established Caritas Day (Caritas is latin for charity) as a day to encourage volunteerism and giving back to the community. In that tradition, each year, Mount students, faculty and staff (and alumnae too!) give of their time, talents and more on this day.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch Mount student Morgan Atwater’s recent interview with Sister Helen Danahy of the Sisters of Charity—Halifax in which she discusses the origins of Caritas Day. 

As well, I encourage you to think about what you might do to give back today. Perhaps you have some time to give to your favourite charity. Or perhaps you might incorporate a random act of kindness (or several) into your day. If each of us did something small to show extra kindness to someone else today, imagine the joy we would collectively spread. I plan to respond to the kindness I’ve experienced since joining the Mount community by paying it forward on a few occasions today.

What’s happening

Kudos to the many Mount students, faculty and staff taking part in community-oriented efforts today. The team in Athletics and Recreation, together with the Mount Students’ Union, is raising awareness and funds in support of mental health initiatives through the #BellLetsTalk campaign. Campus recreation together with the Rec Society and BEd Society are leading a “Backpack Giveback” for Halifax-area shelters. Donations of backpacks, clothing (particularly outdoor winter clothing), blankets and toiletries are being accepted at the Fitness Centre all day today. And students in the Department of Business and Tourism are lending a hand at Feed Nova Scotia, Sisters of Charity—Halifax, and Hope for Wildlife. 

Student stories

There are so many students doing so much to support our community. Stay tuned to the Mount’s Facebook page today for stories of Mount students who live the spirit of Caritas year-round.

I’ve been delighted to learn about the Mount tradition of Caritas Day, though not surprised. It is one more manifestation of the community-oriented spirit that is part of what makes the Mount so special. It’s a lovely tradition in keeping with our strong commitment to and history in social responsibility.

Happy Caritas Day!

Mary

Dr. Mary Bluechardt
President and Vice-Chancellor
Mount Saint Vincent University