Where two or more are gathered

By The Beacon | September 5, 2012 9:00pm

Students in the Faith and Fellowship House put emphasis on community values, service and faith

(From left to right) Senior Mathew Hill, sophomore Matthew Sutherland, juniors Fatima Ruiz Villatoro, Ellen Holton, Christina Aplet and Kate Stringer, senior Hannah Billett, junior Mairi Rodriguez, and seniors Olivia McCraken and Kimi Colton all smile at a Faith and Fellowship House gathering. (Stephanie Matusiefsky | THE BEACON)

By Megan Walsh, Staff Writer walsh15@up.edu

It is no secret that the University of Portland student body is bursting with a selfless desire to give and a need for a strong community. These traits are especially exemplified within the walls of Tyson 210, otherwise known as the Faith and Leadership House.

Upon walking into the apartment, which was visually similar to others in Tyson or Haggerty, with its simple couches and T.V. in the corner, I was met with heartfelt smiles, polite introductions and the hospitable offering of a beverage. Within five short minutes, I understood why people applied to live in such a community.

"Community is really important to pretty much all of us and so my favorite part about living in the Faith and Leadership House is living with wonderful people who are interested in sharing a community with me," senior Mathew Hill said. "It promotes having dinner together, it promotes sharing how our days were and it's a very enjoyable environment to be in."

To become a member of this community, a student must fill out an application, go through an interview and receive an acceptance email. With acceptance into the house comes many responsibilities, but with the responsibilities come intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.

"We pray together three times a week, at least twice a week we share a meal together, we watch movies together, and our goal is to intentionally spend time all together in a fun, relaxed environment," senior Hannah Billett said.

The Faith and Leadership House consists of ten student residents who make decisions based on the five pillars of faith, prayer, intellectual life, community and service along with three directors to guide them.

"We work with someone from the Moreau Center, someone from Campus Ministry and someone from the theology department, so it's a good mix," Billett said.

The representative from the Moreau Center, Pat Ell, works with the students and helps them reach their philanthropic goals. Each student individually dedicates at least one hour a week to serving an organization of their choosing. They also spend one Saturday each month hosting a dinner and liturgical service for REX (Religious Experience for eXceptional people) which consists of adults with intellectual disabilities.

"The students of the Faith and Leadership House treat the people who come from REX, people who are often not treated with respect, with amazing respect and kindness - I find that very moving," Ell said.

Along with commitment to service, the students also take a one credit course of theological reflection.

"The idea is that they take their experiences from living in a community, doing service work and bring them into conversation with theology and also their own discipline of study," theology department representative Fr. Jeffrey Cooper said.

The third director of the house is Beth Barsotti who represents the Campus Ministry involvement.

"The residents are asked to commit to personal prayer daily and to pray as a group at least once a week," Cooper said.

The students living in the House do attend Mass but there is no formal requirement regarding when, where and with whom they attend.

"I hope all students at UP try to develop their own belief system and faith life, and I hope that includes the ethic of service to the people and to the community," Ell said. "I think the Faith and Leadership House is especially attractive to students who want to live in a small intensive intentional community and have group prayer together a few times a week and have one year dedicated to building their life that way."