Saint Louis University

Immersion Experiences

In the spirit of a Faith that seeks Justice, the Eckelkamp Center for Campus Ministry partners with other university organizations to plan and lead immersion experiences to local, national and international destinations. These experiences, which challenge students to engage the gritty realities of the world while reflecting on the values of human dignity and servant leadership, are integral to a Jesuit Catholic education at SLU.

Participants in immersion experiences meet multiple times throughout the semester to learn more about Catholic Social Teaching, social analysis, spiritual reflection and the history of the communities they will enter into. At the heart of the experience is the time students spend on their immersion with a marginalized community. They will build community on multiple levels, engage with communities that wrestle with marginalization and social injustice, and reflect on this experience in light of their diverse faith and spiritual lives.

Reflections based on theological reflection and social analysis are a crucial part of the experience and are designed to serve two purposes; help students begin relating their experiences to their lives and studies at SLU, and provide an opportunity to think about the themes of the trip in the light of each student's faith and or spirituality. Towards these ends reflection time will be scheduled at the beginning and end of each day. Students will continue to meet after spring break to continue reflecting on their experience and begin asking what it means to accompany and be in solidarity with the communities they encountered. This process of "bringing the immersion home" is where the fruits of the experience are integrated into each students experience at SLU and shared with the broader community.

The Immersion Program is grounded in the pillars of Solidarity, Social Justice, Spirituality and Community. Each Immersion Experience will incorporate the four pillars in to a unique experience shaped by the communities they work with. Common aspects of all the Immersion Experiences are:

  • striving to be in solidarity with the host community and each other
  • participating in daily reflections grounded in Ignatian Spirituality and social analysis
  • learning about and working to change social injustices
  • building up the immersion team as a community and participating in the local host community

Some of the ways that the different immersion experiences can differ from each other are:

  • Being a part of a service-learning course that connects a trip's on-site experiences to course learning outcomes.
  • Emphasizing accompaniment through engaging and learning from local non-profits, community members, governmental leaders, historical & cultural sites, etc.
  • Emphasizing completing or participating in an on-site service project (e.g., upkeep, outreach, or building projects).
  • Emphasizing the reflection and faith-sharing purpose that is a part of service and/or immersion activities.
  • Emphasizing a strong reflection an social analysis focus that is a part of group experiences while on site.

Immersion Experiences vary in the amount of service you will do. Each experience is the product of the local host community's desires and our desire enter into relationship with and learn from them in their work for social change. Some experiences are built around a large project; for others the team will help the host organization with some aspect of their programs; and some trips focus entirely on learning from the experiences of the host community and bringing their stories back to SLU. No matter how little or how many hours you spend doing service to central goal is to deepen your experience of the host community.

If you have a trip idea, or would like to learn more about Mission Trip opportunities, contact John Burke, Campus Minister for Faith and Justice, at or (314) 977-1532.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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