Norcia Leadership Community comes together for weekly Sunday dinners

"For many students, the Norcia community truly is their home away from home. While there are many other opportunities to become a leader on campus, the Norcia community is the perfect place to start and learn many crucial leadership skills."

Connor Stakelin
Communication Studies Class of 2018

What exactly happens during the Sunday dinners of the Norcia Leadership Community? Most of the time, they are filled with conversation, laughter and just unwinding from a busy week. The residents on the floor are able to come together and foster their relationships.

“The community dinners embody Saint Martin’s University’s Benedictine values of community living, hospitality and stability. The community dinners are meant to replicate a tradition within our monastic community. By continuing the tradition of community dinners, we honor our Benedictine heritage,” says Janie Sacco, resident director for Housing and Residence Life, who oversees the weekly get-togethers.

The Norcia community is one of many leadership opportunities that take place on our campus. First-year students who apply to live on the floor and get accepted are treated to a year of various leadership exercises and bonding experiences, including these dinners. The dinners are “fundatory,” meaning they are mandatory but fun events. While some absences are excused for school-related or family activities, the dinners are an important element of the moral and “family” feel of the Norcia Floor.

The Norcia community is designed to connect Saint Martin’s emerging student leaders with first-year students committed to establishing their leadership on campus. Students are able to participate in service projects and retreats, leadership-oriented activities and community development programs. The amazing part is that while there is an application process and you must be accepted in order to live on the Norcia Floor, anyone can be involved with the community and all are welcome at the dinners. In my opinion, the entire purpose of the Norcia community is to foster relationships and growth in students on our campus. It is also so nice that those who don’t live on the floor are still able to attend the Sunday dinners and build an even bigger community in our residence halls.

What exactly happens during the Sunday dinners? Most of the time, they are filled with conversation, laughter and just unwinding from a busy week. The residents on the floor are able to come together and foster their relationships. I know, personally, that although everyone is so busy, it is such a great opportunity to sit down and enjoy time with each other before starting a new school week. Of course, enjoying the delicious food cooked each week is a plus, too. Each mentor group gets to choose what dish to make for dinner. During the week my mentor group cooked, we made “Tachos,” commonly known as tater tot nachos. Recently, one of our dinners featured a murder mystery activity that brought a ton of laughs and bonding with other residents.

“From the dinners, I took away the importance of being present and enjoying the company of those whom I was surrounded by. After racing through my week going to classes, studying and participating in extracurricular activities, the Norcia dinners presented the opportunity for me to stop and live in the moment of being with what felt like extended family members,” says senior Constance Uribe of her experience as a first-year, Norcia Floor resident. Uribe, who is the Norcia community event coordinator, has also served as a mentor on the floor.

For me, I have found the community dinners to be a great start to the week ahead. Although there are many other activities going on and it is sometimes hard to fit it into my schedule, it is such a rewarding experience for everyone to gather and enjoy the company of others on the floor. For many students, the Norcia community truly is their home away from home. While there are many other opportunities to become a leader on campus, the Norcia community is the perfect place to start and learn many crucial leadership skills. After residing on the Norcia floor during your first year, you can choose to apply to live on the floor again and serve as a mentor to first-year students. This is also a great opportunity to continue your leadership on campus and serve those students who  are passionate about becoming a  campus leader.

A common misconception of the Norcia Floor is that only our Benedictine Scholars reside there. The 10 Benedictine Scholars are required to live on the floor and take part in the community activities, but there are about as many Norcia residents who are not Benedictine Scholars. This blend of residents encourages a fantastic collaboration among students with many different interests and skills who are all focused on becoming better leaders at Saint Martin’s.

The Norcia community is warm and welcoming for anyone with a passion for growing their leadership skills. These dinners truly are an amazing feature of our campus community that you will not find at every college. In my opinion, we are very fortunate to have this opportunity! 

This story was written by Connor Stakelin '17 and originally appeared in Insights magazine (Summer  2015).

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