Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In the aftermath of Maria, Caribbean students at St. Thomas University create short story collection

On April 23, St. Thomas University will be unveiling a rich and diverse short story collection “Student Narratives on Hurricane Maria” written by Caribbean students displaced by Hurricane Maria. Nineteen students, mostly from Puerto Rico and one from the Dominican Republic, came together to share their stories of resilience and courage before, during, and after the hurricane devastated their homeland.

This past October, after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, St. Thomas acted quickly to make sure students in the Caribbean could continue their studies uninterrupted and regain a sense of normalcy. Not only were the Islands left without power or infrastructure, but all businesses and institutions were closed. By taking in these students, immediately in October 2017, they were able to continue their academic careers and find a safe, supportive environment to live in.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Bobcat Hall of Fame.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Bernard F. Graham Achievement Award of $10,000

The Bernard F. Graham Scholarship Award in Finance and Accounting is a $10,000 prize awarded to a graduating senior with the highest GPA in the accounting or finance program at the Gus Machado School of Business.

The Bernard F. Graham Scholastic Award in Finance and Accounting is provided by the Bernard F. Graham Charitable Foundation. This generous monetary award is intended to recognize student dedication and commitment to the study of finance and accounting – a passion of Mr. Graham. The winner of the award is notified shortly after final grades and the list of graduates compiled.

Check out last year's recipient with his check, here!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

From the Miami Open to D.C.

A year ago Adrian Escarate, ’11, was the designated “hitting partner” for Roger Federer, and a few weeks ago he was the designated guest of Rep. Carlos Curbelo at the President’s State of the Union address.

The 29-year-old master's candidate, in the U.S. since he was 3, is among the 800,000 DREAMers eager to continue in the DACA program which allows them to stay in the country and continue their education.

Adrian was one of 25 DREAMers that Democratic and Republican lawmakers invited to the President’s speech. He met several top politicians including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and even sat four seats away from the Trump family.

“My hope is that we made a positive impact,” he said. “That our presence and our stories reinforce the amazing contributions DREAMers have made to the country.”

Adrian was able to attend St. Thomas University as a student-athlete by playing on the men's tennis team. Although undocumented, he was able to attend school with private scholarships and graduated Cum Laude from St. Thomas University in 2011 with a degree in communications arts and a minor in psychology. It was a great accomplishment, but unfortunately he could not exercise his degree because of his undocumented status. When DACA went into effect, Adrian was able to acquire a work permit, social security number, and a Florida Driver's License.

“At St. Thomas I was given the opportunity to play tennis and receive scholarships that covered 100 percent of my tuition. I was very fortunate because it weren’t for St. Thomas I don’t know if I would’ve kept studying.

“St. Thomas also provided a sense of community and unity unlike any other university. The professors know you by name and you form a strong bond with other students.”

Tennis has always been part of Adrian’s life, but he plans to pursue a career in communications after receiving his master’s degree in communications.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Legacy of Leadership

While names like Nintendo, Jordan, and O.J. were making headlines in 1994, the groundwork for major headlines to come was being quietly laid at St. Thomas University. Twenty four years ago, on April 19, 1994, Msgr. Franklyn M. Casale began his first day of work as president of St. Thomas University.

“St. Thomas became his second family the moment my brother stepped on campus,” said Gail Casale, Casale’s younger sister. “It’s a family to him because he personally knows so many people that work and study there.”

Casale is hard to miss when he’s on campus. On any given day he can be seen chatting with students, faculty, or staff, a chat that is usually punctuated by his unique laughter. He makes it a point to be as accessible as possible to students. This is something that stems from the days he was interviewing for the position at St. Thomas. Students were part of the interview process, and he asked one student what he would like to see in the university’s next president, “more on-campus presence and interaction with students” is what the student told him.

“He’s not your typical president,” said Pam Loconto, executive assistant to President Msgr. Casale. “He’s accessible to everyone. To put it in perspective, he has a secret entryway to his office that he never uses because he prefers the longer way, which allows him to interact with others, and to see what’s happening on campus.”

And according to his friends and family he has always been that way.

Casale, a former Boy Scout, was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey during the 1940s and 50s, a time when children roamed the streets until their mothers would call them in for dinner.

“It was different back then, the streets were our playground,” said Casale. “We would spend hours upon hours outside playing pick-up basketball, baseball, and football on the streets or empty lots.”
Although he was an excellent student and loved by everyone around him (even his teachers), he wasn’t void of mischief. He was also a typical older brother. With Gail being four years younger than him, he was mortified every time his parents would make him take his sister places.

“He would make me walk two blocks behind him, and make me sit rows away from him and his friends at the movie theater! But I love him to death and we’re best friends,” said Gail.

Up until high school, Casale wanted to become a lawyer to fulfill the dream his father couldn’t because of The Great Depression. But according to his sister Gail, Casale always had an inclination toward clergy leadership.

“Our grandparents, who emigrated from Italy to the U.S., were very entrepreneurial, so it’s definitely in his blood. And while other little boys his age were making airplanes out of clothespins, he was making crosses.”

Young Casale was active in the church, starting off as a mass server at the age of 10, and as a result he grew very close to the sisters and ministers of his parish St. Francis Xavier in Newark. The pastor was a dominant and positive figure in the area who inspired Casale to start thinking of a leadership role within the clergy. 

He attended Seton Hall Preparatory School, where he started giving serious thought to going into the priesthood. He then went to Seton Hall University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities. He also has a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from the Catholic University of America, and a master of divinity degree from the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, New Jersey.

After being ordained a priest by the Catholic Church in 1967 and receiving the title of Monsignor in 1979, Casale thought he would be a parish priest his whole life, but God had different plans for him.

Prior to joining St. Thomas, Casale was the secretary, chancellor and vicar general of the Archdiocese of Newark, where he worked for 20 years, and met his mentor and life-long friend Archbishop Peter Gerety.*

“I have been fortunate to work with a number of wonderful priests, especially Archbishop Peter Gerety,” said Casale. “He was a man of great integrity and honesty. Tremendously respected man with a wonderful disposition. I learned a lot from him.”

As vicar general, not only did he have the opportunity to meet Pope John Paul II, but he learned the inner workings of the church. The position suited him well considering his love of math and numbers (a vicar general is much like being the COO of a company). His tenure at the Archdiocese of Newark prepared him for his next career endeavor – St. Thomas University.

“We [the family] were surprised when he told us he wanted to be the president of a university, but it was right in line with his experience in fundraising, community service, and leadership positions in several higher education associations,” said Gail.

Over span of two decades, Casale developed and nurtured St. Thomas into a better and stronger university. By engaging and encouraging those around him – students, faculty, staff, and alumni – Casale has invigorated the Bobcat spirit.

But as president, especially president of a university, you do almost nothing on your own. There’s a lot of team work and meeting halfway.

“Together we have strengthened the University’s position as the leading Catholic university in the southeast. We have had a transformational journey in renovating, reinventing and strengthening many aspects of the academic, physical, and student life at St. Thomas. And I could not have accomplished these things alone.”

Although there are many milestones he is proud of, he is proudest of the Law School’s Human Trafficking Academy. Casale’s voice is unwavering when speaking against human trafficking. He is the spokesperson on human trafficking for the Institute for Intercultural Human Rights at the St. Thomas School of Law, and has testified before the United States Congress on the reauthorization of the Human Trafficking Act. Casale may be retiring, but he’ll continue to have a leadership role in the strengthening and expansion of the Human Trafficking Academy.

“We want to empower and educate on a national level, to collaborate and be the hub for our nation’s efforts in eradicating human trafficking while providing dignified care to victims and survivors.”

When he’s not at St. Thomas University, 76-year-old Casale can be found swimming laps in a pool, sprawled on the floor playing with his grand nieces and nephews, engrossed in a book, or in the kitchen practicing his culinary skills. And come this January, St. Thomas University’s longest serving president of 24 years, will be doing a lot more swimming, playing, reading, and especially traveling.

“The job of president is never-ending, the job of building a great university is never done. Did I accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish? No, but I accomplished a lot, and I’m satisfied. It has been an honor to be part of an institution that changes the lives of people for the better, both intellectually and spiritually.”

Now, we celebrate the legacy he will leave behind.

 *Archbishop Peter Gerety, the oldest Catholic bishop in the world, passed away Sept. 20, 2016 at the age of 104 – 77 years after his ordination as a priest and after 50 years as a bishop.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Lenten activities on campus – all welcome

What is Lent?
Lent is a 40 day period of preparation for Jesus Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. It is also one of the major liturgical seasons of the Catholic Church. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (This year it falls on February 14th).

An Invitation
The STU-Campus Ministry team invites you to journey through the Lenten Season, by opening our hearts and minds to the possibility of being transformed by God, transforming others, and the world. We invite you to participate in our daily and Sunday celebration of the Eucharist (Mass), to take advantage of the times offered for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), Wednesday Nights of Soup, Bread and Lenten Series, and other opportunities that our school offers to enrich our faith and spiritual beings as part of the educational journey in Catholic Higher Education. We also encourage each other to serve in our local communities, particularly through the acts of mercy with the poor and most vulnerable. Pope Francis reminded us this year: “Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life (Francis, Lenten Message 2018).” Through this season, we may be seeking, questing, discerning and pondering. We invite you to take the first step and become Lenten people by extending acts of mercy, love, kindness, compassion, charity and service with one another. Then, we will be able to embody the living gospel and to seek, quest, discern and ponder these things with anew heart! Let’s transform and let God transform us!

May you have a blessed journey of renewal!

Dr. Claudia H. Herrera, Director of Campus Ministry

Weekly Schedule
Lenten Morning Prayer & Coffee
Monday - Friday | 9:15am| Dooner Hall 111

Building Your Foundation (Bible Study)
Mondays | 12:15pm – 1:15pm | Dooner Hall 111

Celebration of the Eucharist (Mass)
Daily Mass | Monday - Friday | 12:15pm
Sunday Mass | 7:00pm

Upper Room MIDDAY Mass (NEW)
Wednesdays | 12:15pm | Followed by Soup & Bread TO GO!

IGNITE Soup & Bread Lenten Series (NEW)
Young Adult Group | Wednesdays | 7:00pm | Dooner 111.

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
Monday 12:45pm | Wednesday | 4:30pm | The Chapel of Saint Anthony

Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confessions)
Monday 12:00pm | Sunday 6:45pm | (15 minutes before Mass) | OR email sphung@stu.edu for an appointment

St. Thomas More Catholic Law Society Midday Prayer
Tuesdays | 12:05pm (10min) | Room 109A (Back of Law Library)

Almsgiving, Service and Charity
Fair trade Haitian coffee | Dooner 111 | Wednesdays | All donations go to CCE
See Lenten Events for service-learning opportunities

Lenten Special Events
Ash Wednesday Mass
February 14 | 12:15pm |The Chapel of Saint Anthony| Followed by: Soup & Bread (Chapel Porch)

A Day of Service-Learning
STU-Carol City Middle School| Report Card Review Day | Friday | February 23 | 8:00am-12noon| Email Center for Community Engagement at CCE@STU.EDU to RSVP

A Night of Hope and Healing
Ecumenical Prayer Service and Fellowship | Tuesday | March 13 | 7:00pm – 8:00pm |The Chapel of Saint Anthony

Lent Retreat at the Home of The Franciscan Sisters (IGNITE)
Soup & Bread with reflection | Date TBA | Email campusministry@stu.edu to register

Night of Reconciliation at The Chapel
Wednesday, March 28th | 7pm|
Live Passion Pantomime (IGNITE)| Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered | Soup & Bread will be served in the Campus Ministry lounge (Dooner 111)

Good Friday Way of the Cross through the Streets of Miami (Service with the Missionaries of Charity Homeless Shelter)| March 30th | 8:30am | 724 N.W. 17 St. Miami, FL, 33136

*For more information or to sign up for Lenten events visit: Campus Ministry Office - Dooner Hall 111, or e-mail campusministry@stu.edu.

Lenten brochure can be found in the back of the Chapel or in the Campus Ministry Office.

ALL are welcome to participate!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Carnegie Corporation of New York Donates $150K to St. Thomas University for Displaced Caribbean Students

Months after a series of three catastrophic hurricanes hit Houston, Miami, and Puerto Rico, the regions are still coping with the destruction that closed schools and universities, and displaced students and their families. In response to the ongoing recovery efforts, Carnegie Corporation of New York is joining other U.S. foundations in providing relief funding and will donate $1.5 million to help communities affected by the disasters.

In partnership with the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Corporation has allocated $150,000 to support displaced Caribbean students continuing their studies at St. Thomas University. Other Miami-area universities receiving support:
  • Miami Dade College, $150,000
  • Florida International University, $200,000
In October, St. Thomas opened its doors to Caribbean students affected by the hurricanes and offered free room and board for the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters. Currently the University has 90 students taking advantage of the opportunity.
“We are very grateful to the Carnegie Corporation of New York for its support of displaced students,” said Msgr. Franklyn Casale, president of St. Thomas University. “It’s important that these students continue their higher education uninterrupted, and we are committed to helping them as much as possible.”
In Puerto Rico, Carnegie Corporation of New York is donating:
  • $150,000 to Unidos por Puerto Rico, an emergency response initiative established by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló
  • $150,000 to the Puerto Rico Community Foundation
  • $150,000 to the American University of Puerto Rico
In addition, the Corporation has allocated $250,000 for Equal Justice Works to deploy a corps of attorneys, called Disaster Recovery Fellows, to aid those impacted by the hurricanes in Texas and South Florida. The Corporation has also earmarked $300,000 for DonorsChoose.org to assist Houston-area schools. DonorsChoose.org is a crowdfunding platform that engages the public in funding classroom projects, particularly in low-income areas.
“Carnegie Corporation of New York has a history of responding to disasters at home and abroad, including the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti,” said Vartan Gregorian, President of the Corporation. “We are now proud to partner with the Knight Foundation and its President, Alberto Ibargüen, and to join many of our sister foundations in responding to the aftermath of the hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico last fall. Given the Corporation’s focus on the advancement of education, much of our support aims to assist schools and universities in responding to and recovering from the damage wrought by these disasters.”
The Knight Foundation has committed $2.5 million in disaster relief. The damage and lost productivity from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have stamped 2017 as the most expensive hurricane season in U.S. history, totaling more than $200 billion in losses according to a report by Bloomberg News.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Student displaced by storm, struggles and perseveres with music

Communications major Jose Vargas, 22, came to the United States on Oct. 8 with a backpack full of all his belongings—two shirts and two pants—and two days later he started class at St. Thomas University. Jose is one of the 68 students from Puerto Rico and other hurricane-battered Caribbean islands that chose to resume their education at St. Thomas.

Jose came to Miami looking for the basic necessities many of us take for granted: running water, electricity and a roof over our heads. But, he also came for the opportunity to continue his education and his music career.

“I’ve been independently writing and producing music since the age of 15,” he said. “After Hurricane Irma it was hard to focus on what I loved the most, my music, but that changed the moment I stepped onto campus at St. Thomas.”

Shortly after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, St. Thomas University began offering free room and board for college students in Puerto Rico and affected islands who wished to continue their studies, and regain a sense of normalcy.

Jose took advantage of this opportunity, which allowed him to refocus on his education and music. Jose credits his dad for the exposure to the music business, and church for the inspiration to pursue his music dreams.

“My dad, Jose, has been in the music industry for years in Puerto Rico. He produced music events for people like Elvis Crespo, Grupo Manía, and Toño Rosario, to name a few.”

But, church is where he found his voice.

“I was sitting in church one day, and was inspired by the choir.”

Immediately after mass, he approached the priest and asked if he could sing with the choir. Soon after, he became a member of the choir and even learned to play several instruments including the piano, bass, and guitar.

His vocal and instrumental prowess can be heard on his first single “Tu lo Llenas Todo” available on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.

And, in a few days, his newest single “Se Termino,” an ode to the brokenhearted, will be playing on the radio! He wrote “Se Termino” in his dorm room at St. Thomas’ in less than two days.

Jose is currently in the process of shooting the music video in Los Angeles, and a remix is also in the works.

Make sure to follow all his social media adventures and on Spotify: @vargasrhodes.