Mercy Mondays: Inaugural Living the Mission Awards bestowed on Salve Regina community members
This year, The Office of Mission Integration inaugurated Salve Regina’s Living the Mission Awards. These awards are a celebration of Salve Regina’s faculty, staff, students and community partners who have carried out the mercy, Catholic mission through their dedicated service and leadership.
The Living the Mission Awards recognize individuals who advance the University’s mission in extraordinary ways through their actions and example, seeking wisdom and promoting universal justice.
The 2022 award recipients of the Living the Mission Award are Dr. Sean O’Callaghan, associate professor of religious and theological studies and graduate program director of the humanities program; Michael Chester, superintendent of grounds; Claire Siegler ’24, a double major in administration of justice major and studio art; Contessa Brown, who is getting her master’s in holistic clinical mental health counseling and the expressive arts certificate program; and Michele Banks, director of Learning Unlimited.
Awards were bestowed at the University’s fall 2022-23 academic convocation on Sept. 6, 2022.
These five individuals have linked Salve Regina’s community to the mercy mission in tremendous ways. Salve Regina is so grateful for how these five recipients are a “shining lamp giving light to all around you,” in the words of Catherine McAuley.
Claire Siegler ’24
“Claire gives so much and asks so little in return,” Dan Titus shared when he nominated Claire Siegler for an award. “When she worked in admissions as a guide, she would go out of her way to make the parents and students feel like they were already a part of our special, blessed community.”
Most notable of the many ways Siegler goes above and beyond is her genuine care and love for Salve Regina’s rose gardens. Over the past two summers when Siegler was done with her shift within IT where she worked, she would dedicate hours voluntarily to support Chris Kerwin, Salve Regina’s head gardener, to prune the rose bushes. She serves each rose, particularly in the older plants, by diligently, thoughtfully and patiently pruning.
“Mike Chester is humble, kind, fair, compassionate and patient. His loyalty to Salve is demonstrated daily, but especially on the harder days — blizzards, hurricanes, big event weekends or when a beloved tree needs to come down,” Mary Beth Pelletier, program manager in mission integration, shared in her nomination for Mike Chester.
The kindness and mercy Mike Chester shows Salve Regina’s trees is clear. Chester seeks wisdom by looking to a team of responsible, knowledgeable Salve Regina and local community members to make the hard, but merciful decisions when a tree needs to be taken down.
“He feels the weight of the grief more than anyone at Salve,” said Pelletier. “But in removing a diseased tree is promoting universal justice. Chet knows that opening space after removing an ailing tree gives the other trees room to grow and thrive and reduces the chances of the disease spreading.”
A role model as a student, workshop leader, community activist, and human being showing up in the world, Contessa was nominated by Christopher Carbone, lecturer and graduate program coordinator in the Counseling, Leadership and Expressive Arts program.
“Contessa has been involved in service to the community through a variety of projects and programs throughout the years while enrolled as a student here at Salve Regina,” wrote Carbone. “Creator of ‘Cafe Soul’ inspirational events in the Providence Area, Contessa is currently pursuing her graduate studies to more fully be of service to the BIPOC community and beyond to be integrating her future work in mental health counseling, the creative arts and helping others to shine their light.”
“Dr. Sean O’Callaghan empowers his students to embrace the Salve Regina slogan, ‘Learn, Lead, Make a Difference.’ As an educator, he discusses relevant topics through the power of rigorous academic classroom discussion and demonstrates his teaching abilities and writing skills. Ultimately, his message is that all Salve Regina students have the capability to make a positive change to create a better world,” said one of Sean O’Callaghan’s students.
O’Callaghan demonstrates mercy in many ways across campus. He inspires his students to see the humanities as “all things being human” and helps them to discover their role and mission-driven responsibility to improve the human condition locally and globally. Dr. O’Callaghan also remains flexible and open, accommodating student’s schedules, even if it means very early morning meetings, if it also supports their success.
“Michele is an absolute role model to me as well as the other service advocates,” Jillian Gaffga ’23, an accounting major with a minor in business administration, shared in her nomination. “She has been in the role for many years and dedicates so many hours to this program in order to make the community members feel welcomed. Michele and this amazing program she runs is the reason why I feel so close to the mission.”
Michele Banks has been dedicated to engaging Salve Regina students with Learning Unlimited for a long time.
“When you listen to Michele talk about Learning Unlimited and how the community members feel like they are Salve Regina students, it is because Michele made them feel like this was their University, too,” said Kelly Powers, director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service.
This post is part of an ongoing series called Mercy Mondays that highlights Salve Regina’s dedication to its Mercy Mission. Search the tag Mercy Mission for more updates on the Mercy branches of Salve Regina.