Less than six months later, she had applied and was accepted into the program’s year of service.
“Once I attended the meeting, I instantly felt drawn to the four pillars that the program consists of: spirituality, social justice, community and leadership,” said Liuzzo, 24.
Liuzzo, who’s graduating from St. Joseph’s University this May with a degree in recreational therapy, is set to start her year of service in Minnesota this August.
A Commitment to Service
Not only did Liuzzo get accepted into the program, she also got accepted into her first choice for volunteer placement: St. Kate’s/CSJ Food Access Hub.
“The St. Kate’s/CSJ Food Access Hub is a collaboration between the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ) and St. Catherine University (St. Kate’s), which was created to address food insecurity, nutrition and personal wellness needs within the Twin Cities communities,” Liuzzo explained.
“I will also be working in the community gardens with elementary children, as well as teaching about gardening techniques to intergenerational groups at Garden Nights,” Liuzzo said. “I am most excited about this aspect of the position because I love working outdoors and tending to plants!”
During the year of service, Liuzzo will live with a small community of other St. Joseph Worker Program volunteers. They receive stipends for groceries and necessities for the house, and they participate in weekly “sharing of the heart” sessions — a tradition started by the founding Sisters of St. Joseph in Le Puy, France.
Finding What the Future Holds
Liuzzo is most excited to explore life outside of Long Island and the tri-state area.
“I never thought I would be going to Minnesota, but I can’t wait to explore this new terrain and venture outside of my comfort zone,” the Smithtown resident said. “While I’m nervous to be moving so far away from the things in my life that are so certain (my family, friends and community), I know I will find my independence while pursuing what I’m called to do.”
“My time at St. Joseph’s has brought me some incredible individuals who have inspired me to live out a life of faith and service, including Cristian Murphy, former director of Campus Ministry, who became a mentor to me and provided much spiritual and personal guidance,” said Liuzzo, who transferred to the University during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am so grateful to know my amazing friends through Campus Ministry, who have guided and inspired me on my college journey,” she added.
And while Liuzzo considered missionary work in the past, she never felt it came at a feasible time — until now, that is.
“The St. Joseph Worker Program felt like just the right program at just the right time, which I could have never planned for,” she explained. “But I believe that when God calls you, it is never what you expect or when you expect it.”