Service & Immersion

University Ministry immersion trips provide experiences of direct service rooted in relationship. They offer students the opportunity to work for the common good, encounter new realities, and reflect on their experiences in the context of a diverse community.

What are Immersions?

Immersions are key experiences of a transformative Jesuit and Mercy education rooted in social justice. These experiences include manual labor, cultural learning, relationship building, and daily prayer and reflection. They offer a life-long path for our students to become persons for others, and we believe that performing them changes the world.

Immersion Trips

Service Immersion Trips

During winter break and spring break, students travel to locations throughout the United States to engage in direct service. Students build community, reflect and share work with communities affected by injustice. They immerse themselves issues of social justice.  CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION

The Detroit Mercy Service Immersion program offers students the opportunity to participate in cultural immersion trips centered around service and learning. Each trip has a different focus that encompasses the social injustices of that region. The service immersion trips are offered over the winter break, spring break, and in April/May after classes conclude. The cost is dependent upon the location and covers transportation, lodging, meals, and a donation to the host organization. Trips are led by a student leader and a faculty, staff or alum of the University. Participants will be asked to participate in at least four preparation sessions and one post-trip session.

Winter Break


Cost: $600 (includes flight)

Theme: Immigration/Border Issues

December 16-22, 2018

Students will visit the border to experience first-hand some of the issues connected with migrants and refugees. Immigration speakers, work with people at refugee housing etc. Part of the immersion experience will be incorporating the holiday traditions such as Las Posadas as you build relationships with the local community. Accomodations will be at the Sisters of St. Joseph Convent near Sacred Heart Church in El Paso.

Host Organization:

Encuentro Project through Sacred Heart Church 602 S. Oregon St. El Paso, Texas and Fr. Rafael Garcia, S.J.

Spring Break


Cost: $300

Theme: Disabilities

March 3-9, 2019

This 6-day service immersion trip explores issues around people with disabilities. Misericordia is a continuum of care and a network of services operated by the Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, IL working towards a future where people with disabilities can achieve maximum independence. The community serves more than 600 children and adults from different racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Participants will be paired with groups of people with disabilities on the Misericordia campus in a variety of ways that include work and community building Monday-Friday during the work-day. Each evening in Chicago we will be joining communities such as Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Catholic Worker and exploring areas of Chicago or hear various speakers on a variety of justice issues. Participants will be lodging at St. Scholastica Monastery at 7430 N Ridge Blvd, Chicago, IL 60645. Host Organization:


Cost: $300

Theme: Rural Housing Insecurity, Appalachian Culture

March 3-9, 2019

Nazareth Farm is a Catholic community in rural West Virginia that transforms lives through a service-retreat experience. Founded on the cornerstones of community, simplicity, prayer, and service, Nazareth Farm seeks to empower and work with its neighbors while celebrating God in all things, especially the richness of Appalachian culture. While the primary work at Nazareth Farm is home repair, volunteers can also expect meaningful relationships with the people of Appalachia as well as education around the issues effecting the local community. The staff at Nazareth Farm facilitates the week and Detroit Mercy volunteers will join groups from 2-3 other Universities. Host organization: Nazareth Farm


Cost: $600 (includes flight)

Theme: Immersion to the Farmworker culture of Immokalee/Immigration

March 3-9, 2019

The participants will be part of a variety of experiences including Habitat for Humanity, Guadalupe Outreach and PACE School for Girls. The experiences will create an understanding of social justice versus service and a perspective through the lens of humility in entering a community. It will create an awareness that people of Immokalee do not need their help yet instead they are willing to share with trust and confidence their story for the purposes of help bringing about awareness of their experiences. Accomodations will be at Bethel Retreat Center where the group will live in community and experience simple living, reflection, and solidarity. Expose to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (etc) Host organizations: Humility of Mary Volunteer Service – Sister Mary Stanco;

International Service/Immersion Experience (ISE)

International Immersion Trip: San Salvador, El Salvador

Cost: $1500

Theme: Immigration, Salvadoran History and Culture

April 28 – May 6, 2019

The CRISPAZ El Salvador Encounter is for people who are willing to have their lives touched and forever changed. During your time in El Salvador you will have the opportunity to meet with Salvadorans, hear their stories, and accompany them for a short time in their daily lives. As a group of North Americans, you will also have the opportunity to reflect together on the challenge this experience offers personally, politically, and spiritually. We hope that the stories you hear and the experiences that you have will lead you to continue to work towards justice and peace in El Salvador and in your home community. To participate in an El Salvador Encounter is to enter into an ongoing dialogue with the people of El Salvador and with other North Americans, a dialogue which we hope will challenge and change your heart, mind, and spirit.

Our Encounter groups generally stay at simple guesthouses. Sometimes this means that rooms will be shared by 2-3 people, but in most cases larger rooms house 3-4 people. The guesthouses use fans instead of air-conditioning, and water for showers is usually room temperature, not hot. Meals will be simple. Breakfast and dinner are usually served at the place you will stay. Sometimes lunches are taken “on the road” at reliable, typical restaurants (your meals are included in your delegation fee). Your trip will also include a two-night stay in a rural village.

A PASSPORT is REQUIRED for this trip.


Basic SPANISH is helpful but not necessary as a translator is provided.

All immunizations should be up to date. A few recommendations (not included in the above fee): Hepatitis A is recommended at least 2 weeks before the trip; Malaria prophylactic; an oral typhoid vaccine; medicine to deal with traveler’s diarrhea. Please contact your local travel clinic or the CDC’s website for more information. Host organization:

Mystery Trip

Cost: $600 (includes flight)

Theme: Urban Poverty, Hunger and Homelessness

March 3-9, 2019

The mystery trip is exactly how it sounds – a mystery. You are given a theme and the student leader and colleague will guide you through various topics to prepare for the trip. Guidelines will be given on packing as well. If you are interested in a surprise trip, this is a great way trip for you!

Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice

The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is an annual gathering for members of the Ignatian family (Jesuit institutions and larger church) to come together in the context of social justice and solidarity to learn, reflect, pray, network, and advocate together. It is a place where students are empowered, re-energized, inspired, challenged, and supported by a community that sees faith and justice integrally linked.

Over three days in Washington, D.C., students will listen to inspiring speakers, participate in break-out sessions, pray together, and spend a morning on Capitol Hill.

Check out the Ignatian Solidarity Network website and contact Julia Erdlen at or 313-993-1560 for more information!

Service Opportunities

Detroit Mercy is distinguished by graduates who lead and serve in their communities. Whether it's for one afternoon, one week, or all semester, all of our service opportunities will develop your leadership skills even as they give you an incredible, transforming experience of serving those in need, often in another cultural setting. Plus, you'll have fun with other students while you're at it!


    Service in the City

    Every Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. and one Saturday a month, University Ministry will be taking a group of students out to different service sites to serve others and get to know the local community. If you would like to sign up or have any other questions or concerns, you can contact Julia Erdlen at


    Current Students service learning

    See the Institute for Leadership and Service for more information on other service learning opportunities at Detroit Mercy.


    Post-graduate service programs

    What are you doing after graduation? Are you still trying to figure this out?

    Have you ever considered volunteering for a year or two after graduation?

    You have lots of choices even after you commit to doing service. There are many programs that are available to men and women who want to make a commitment. We recommend joining ones sponsored by the founders of our university, the Jesuits and the Sisters of Mercy.

    Each is committed to the pursuit of justice within a faith context, community and simple lifestyle. Be a part of something bigger. You can find your personal niche while staying connected. The experience goes beyond the year(s) which you serve. The opportunities are diverse and the experience is in common.

    If that sounds like you, check out the websites below or contact University Ministry at 313-993-1560.