On the feast day of Saint Louise de Marillac, patroness of Christian social workers, Elizabeth Barry, a senior social work student, greets worshippers as they enter St. Vincent’s Chapel. It’s a beautiful spring Tuesday night on campus and she is thrilled to see so many of her social work classmates and professors filling the chapel.
Barry, who organized the Mass through the student chapter of the Catholic Social Workers National Association she co-founded, says the evening is a “celebration of all who embrace the Catholic social work values of justice, charity, and service.”
Mass begins with “The Summons,” a fitting hymn for a group of people who have answered the call to serve. (Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?)
The desire to find a profession based on the principles of Catholic social teaching led her to the National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS) at Catholic University — the 2015 Social Work Degree Guide’s top-rated Catholic institution of social work in the nation.
“Liz is a leader at the school,” says William Rainford, NCSSS dean. “She lives out her faith joyfully and intentionally and in a way that is an example to others.”
“The faculty at NCSSS are very passionate about helping each one of us find our calling,” says Barry.
She credits the Social Welfare and Policies II course taught by NCSSS doctoral student Ruth White with helping her focus her calling. “Hearing her passion about working with homeless youth and her experiences advocating for them to influence legislative policy had a light bulb go off in my head.”
White, who works with Covenant House, a national charity serving homeless youth, helped Barry secure an internship there, where she met CEO Kevin Ryan, a Catholic University alumnus. “He told us the least interesting thing about Covenant House youth is that they are homeless. He was right! When I met them I saw that they want to share their gifts with the world.”
Barry has been accepted into the M.S.W. program at NCSSS. “I want to work in policy where I can be a change agent for children who don’t have a voice, sharing their stories and helping them have a better future.”
Photos and video taken at the March 15 Mass at St. Vincent’s.