About the Moreau Center for Service and Justice

Inspired by the vision of Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, rooted in Catholic social teaching, and guided by the mission of the University, Moreau Center programs center on direct service. Service is one of the key components in a Catholic education.

Direct service involves directly connecting with people and programs through service.

It addresses real community needs while allowing students to encounter and critically examine issues of poverty and injustice. Students engaging with people whose life experience and perspectives may be different from their own helps to break down fears, stereotypes, and apathy and often inspires people to do more.


  • Responds to a community or individual need and creates opportunity for change
  • Encourages academic, emotional, and spiritual growth
  • Provides practical work experience and leadership opportunities

Participating in activities that raise student awareness to social concerns and issues of justice:

  • Educates students in the tradition of Catholic social teaching
  • Helps students integrate their academic studies with current issues and events
  • Challenges students to seek the common good in all that they do
  • Encourages students to think critically about their ideas and values
  • Moves students to concrete action on behalf of others

We encourage students to make a commitment to ongoing community engagement. Members of the University of Portland community find service with and for others to be a powerful way to apply their education and faith in the world.

Moreau Center Core Commitments

Our direct service programs are grounded in the following commitments:

Social Justice

Catholic social teaching emphasizes the dignity of all human life, preferential option for the poor, and consideration of the common good. Educational and reflection opportunities embedded in our programs allow for participants to come to a deeper understanding of self,  as well as the political, social, economic, and religious issues connected to their volunteer experiences. Participants gain a sense of how their unique interests, talents, and skills can affect social change and consider their responsibility to take action.


Participants in Moreau Center programs learn what community is by directly experiencing it. Each participant takes the time to listen to and respect others and offer their own ideas and resources. Shared responsibility for meal preparation and group reflection are expected during immersion experiences. Participants enter communities they visit with humility and respect and engage as curious students and grateful guests in the community’s customs and culture. 


Solidarity is a belief that we are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. One of the most common ways to practice solidarity is through voluntary simplicity. We plan immersions, events, and programs with cost effectiveness in mind. This reduces the finances required by participants and advances our commitment to living in solidarity with the often under-resourced communities and organizations that host us. This may take the form of being open to simple accommodations, observing local customs and culture, patronizing local business and services, or listening to and learning from local people outside of formal gatherings.


Reflection is central to all we do. Our programs and service experiences often stimulate profound questions and offer an opportunity to intentionally explore them. As part of reflection, participants may draw on their faith tradition and engage in social analysis. 

Our Definition of Service

Inspired by the Holy Cross call to cross borders of every sort and its charisms, service at the University of Portland is defined as intentional engagement with local, regional, or global communities, particularly those who are marginalized or vulnerable, in order to promote social justice and the common good. We value collaborative partnerships that encourage reciprocity and reflective practices within and beyond the UP community.