Abigail Yarrison ’24, Editor-in-Chief

Source: Vista Today

After 14 and a half years of service and dedication to Immaculata, Jess Morrell, the Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, will be turning a new page as she departs from Immaculata to join the mission of Catholic Relief Services (CRS).On Friday morning, a going away party was held in campus ministry. Dozens of students and many of the faculty and Sisters of IHM gathered to wish Jess a fond farewell.

During Jess’s time here at Immaculata she has been a joy to the IU community. Dr. Sean Flannery, the head of the Arts, Language, and Letters Department, also commented. “In all my time at Immaculata, I would be hard-pressed to find anyone with more genuine interest in the students’ success and well-being. And what really set Jess Morrell apart from others was the excitement and enthusiasm she exhibited when endeavoring to realize these achievements for students. No one will be able to come close in matching Jess in these attributes, and the university will carry that void without her.”

Jess has also impacted Immaculata through her passion getting students involved in service, one of her proudest achievements being the creation of the Holy Adventures Retreat Program. This outdoor adventuring and camping retreat goes annually to West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest for a week of rock climbing, white water rafting, and camping. Jess hoped the program would give students time to connect with God and themselves in a different way. This retreat has been very special to her because she has been able to help students step outside their comfort zone and has also been pushed outside her box as well. Although Holy Adventures hasn’t run for the past two years due to COVID, she is hopeful that it will start up again.

Jess has also been a big part of bringing the importance of social justice work to Immaculata. Through her involvement in CRS Ambassadors on campus, events and informative teachings like the Migration Simulation Event and Fair Trade Sale have brought awareness to students about social justice issues in the world and how they can help. She is also the Assistant Director of Campus Ministry and so is involved with the students’ faith lives as well, an example being the Holy Adventures. Julia, a sophomore who is a member of Campus Ministry, said that Jess “radiated Christ to all the students each day and taught all of us the beauty and importance of service in building up the Kingdom of God here on Earth. God is going to do amazing work through Jess as she helps establish CRS chapters in colleges.”

The Catholic Relief Services is an international extension of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Jess described them as the “arm of the US Bishops to the world.” The mission statement of CRS is to carry out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas and promote human development. Jess has supported the mission of CRS for a long time. In 2019 she was able to travel to Rwanda to see the work being done there. She will work with the CRS as the Community Outreach Manager in the Northeast Mid-Atlantic Region. Fortunately, she will be close to Immaculata and will be working with us occasionally! She will be working with advisors and students in colleges, parishes, and high schools to engage them in social justice activities and events.

For Jess, and all of the IU community, this is a bittersweet time. Jess says she will miss the community here and working with the students and faculty. Students will also miss her around campus as sophomore Lauren Kolenda remarked, “Jess has always been so kind and encouraging to me. I will miss seeing her around Campus Ministry but I am excited for her as she begins her new job at Catholic Relief Services.”

Jess has enjoyed working with the students, and has made life-long friends that will be hard to leave behind. She will also miss the IHM Sisters that make Immaculata, Immaculata. One of our sisters, Sister Laura, who is the Director of Campus Ministry and worked very closely with Jess says that “We really miss Jess, but I am so happy for her new opportunity. She is such an excellent choice for her new position with Catholic Relief Services and I look forward working with her again in the future.”

We wish her all the best as she continues her mission and she will always be warmly welcomed at Immaculata. IU will always have a special place in her heart and she will have a place in ours. Jess finished by saying, “I am very thankful for the community here, and my time here, and it’s off to the next adventure.”