News, On Campus

Espresso Your Faith Week Wins Outstanding Spiritual Initiative Award

Boston College’s “Espresso Your Faith Week,” an annual campuswide celebration of faith, received an award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators in February, according to BC News. 

“The Outstanding Spiritual Initiative Award recognizes a program or initiative that promotes spiritual and religious growth on a college campus and demonstrates a significant impact on a college campus by promoting spiritual and religious engagement among the student body,” Colleen Dallavalle, senior advisor to the vice president for student affairs, said in an email to The Heights.

Espresso Your Faith Week, sponsored by the Church in the 21st Century Center (C21) and Campus Ministry, takes place at the beginning of every academic year and aims to celebrate faith across campus through various gatherings such as masses and prayer groups, as well as sacramental practices and food pop-ups. 

Dallavalle, who nominated the program for the Spirituality and Religion in Higher Education Knowledge Community Outstanding Spiritual Initiative Award, said Espresso Your Faith Week offers an opportunity for BC community members to come together through their shared faith.

“Often, we can get caught up in the day-to-day and not allow ourselves the space or the grace to reflect on things like our faith, our values, or our purpose,” Dallavalle said. “What I loved about Espresso Your Faith Week at Boston College is that it calls people into the process of exploring those ideas in a deeper way.” 

Karen Kiefer, director of C21, said Espresso Your Faith Week stemmed from the popularity of Agape Latte, a national faith storytelling program that started at BC through C21 and Campus Ministry in 2006.

“We started to think, what would it look like if we dedicated one week to sharing all of the beautiful faith riches of this university with our students, so they in turn, could not only realize what was there, but then also experience just the epiphany of knowing that God is working in all of our lives,” Kiefer said. 

According to Dallavalle, the week allows members of the BC community to learn about and reflect on backgrounds and faiths different from their own. 

“It invites individuals (regardless of faith denomination) to think about what faith means to them and how they practice it in their daily lives and in their vocations,” Dallavalle said. “People are drawn together by values- they connect with other people, learn more about different experiences, all by being open to exploring more about their beliefs.”

Dallavalle said the national award provides the opportunity to share Espresso Your Faith Week, as well as the work of C21, with a wider audience, potentially inspiring those outside of BC to explore their faith as well.  

“[The award] allows us to share how this format can call individuals from any faith back into their spiritual practice,” Dallavalle. “Providing a platform where this could be shared on a national level gives even more people access to share these ideas/programs with their own communities.”

According to Kiefer, Agape Latte and Espresso Your Faith Week are just two examples of C21’s work in leading the world of Catholic education through its programming.

“A lot of what we do here at the center is we create models,” Kiefer said. “Our whole mission is to be a catalyst and a resource for the renewal of the Catholic Church, and so it’s our job to create models that we can not only execute, but that we can also give away and that they become contagious.” 

Kiefer said she hopes the award will encourage other universities to adopt Espresso Your Faith Week programming as well. 

“We have worked with over 150 colleges, high schools, and parishes that have adopted the [Agape Latte] model, and what I was so excited about with this award is the possibility and the great hope that other universities will see this [Espresso Your Faith week] model and adopt it on their own campuses,” Kiefer said.

March 19, 2023