Loyola University Chicago

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Social justice in action

Social justice in action

Loyola’s Labre Ministry, which provides the city’s homeless with food and friendship, is just one of many volunteer programs that students can take part in while at the University. (File photo: Heather Eidson)

By Lauren Krause

Loyola students quickly learn that a Jesuit education is about much more than books and lectures. It’s about expanding your horizons—and opening your mind—to become a man or woman for others.

Students hoping to put social justice into action can volunteer through a number of different programs offered by Loyola’s Campus Ministry department and its office of Community Service & Action. Each opportunity listed below varies on time commitment, location, and type of service—but they are all rooted in the Jesuit ideal of creating a more just world.

St. Thomas of Canterbury soup kitchen

Loyola sends weekly groups to serve the community at the St. Thomas of Canterbury soup kitchen, located in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Senior Adam Williamson participates weekly and says that while he initially looked at his attendance as an obligation, he now looks forward to the fulfillment side of service. “I always tell people my life goal is to continuously put smiles on people’s faces through service,” he said.

Williamson says he’s able to meet that goal through the soup kitchen, but he challenges himself to recruit more student volunteers and to get them committed to the cause. “I try to tell volunteers to visit at least three times before giving any solid judgment,” Williamson said. 

Groups depart from the Lake Shore Campus every Tuesday and Friday at 3:40 p.m. The only requirement is to wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, and closed-toe shoes. Learn more here.

Alternative break immersion trip

Students looking for a more immersive venture can sign up for one of the dozens of alternative break immersion trips that take place in the winter and spring. Whether it’s gardening in West Virginia or assisting poverty-stricken communities in South Dakota, each trip offers volunteers an experience based on four primary goals and guiding principles: living simply, deepening faith, building community, and doing justice. Learn more here.


Loyola4Chicago’s mission allows undergraduates to experience diversity in Chicago first-hand. This group offers several volunteer options ranging from weekly tutoring sessions, assisting second-language adult immigrants, and working with the homeless. Senior Marta Makowski participates with Big Brothers Big Sisters and cites the hope she sees in her little “sister” as motivation.

“As children who are constantly faced with daily struggles associated with violence, family, multi-family homes, and poor education, I am in awe of how strong they are at such a young age,” she said. “It encourages me to keep unfolding their critical thinking and give them a consistent support system.” Learn more here.

Labre Ministry

For those who prefer a service commitment with less structure, the Labre Ministry serves the Chicago homeless, providing them with food and friendship. Led by students, the group departs every Thursday from the Water Tower Campus and seeks out the hungry and poor members of Chicago’s downtown community. Labre’s mission targets solidarity, rather than charity, and focuses on relationship building rather than the act of providing food itself. Learn more here.

Health Sciences Division

Students in Loyola’s Health Sciences Division also have plenty of opportunities to volunteer. Options range from one-time service days to extended international immersion trips. Many of the HSD’s current service programs were started by students, so if you have a project you’re passionate about, contact the University Mission office to turn your idea into a reality. Learn more here