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Social Work and Catholic Studies’ Academy Realizes Prestigious Partnership with St. Joseph’s University Medical Center  

image of St. Joseph's University Medical Center

St. Joseph's University Medical Center

The Catholic Social Thought in Action Academy, a Seton Hall University Innovation Challenge Grant initiative established by the Social Work Department and Catholic Studies Program, has entered a partnership with St. Joseph’s University Medical Center. The partnership will give Catholic Studies and Social Work double majors unique opportunities to put their classroom learning into practice, promoting public health and serving the vulnerable.

In recent years, the connection between Catholic Studies and Social Work has been strengthened at Seton Hall, as the two programs have established a double major and collaborated to create the Catholic Social Thought in Action Academy. These initiatives help students better understand the connection between social work and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, which draws upon disciplines like philosophy and literature. A joint degree in Catholic Studies and Social Work offers students the opportunity to collaborate with peers who share common core values while seeking solutions to societal problems. Central to degree progression in the Social Work and Catholic Studies double major is an extensive experiential learning requirement, through which students integrate their classroom theory and knowledge with experiences in the field. “Central to both Catholic Social Thought and social work are the values of family life, individual self-determination, the dignity of the human person, and servant leadership, making them natural partners,” stated Dawn Apgar, Ph.D., Director of the Bachelor of Arts in Social Work Program. The double major welcomes students of every faith by recognizing universal values to create a holistic view through interreligious dialogue.

To support students in applying the core values of Social Work and Catholicism, Seton Hall has partnered with St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, NJ. St. Joseph’s Health is a healing ministry of the Catholic Church sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth. Their mission articulates a commitment to sustaining and improving individual and community health, with a special concern for those who are poor, vulnerable, and underserved. Consistent with Seton’s mission of preparing servant leaders in their respective professions and communities, as well as in a global society, students in this program have an exciting opportunity to see the power of service.

“I am thrilled about Seton Hall University partnership with St. Joseph’s University Medical Center,” said Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., Professor of Religion and Director of the Catholic Studies Program. “It is a natural partnership. We are continuing a tradition that was started by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, the first bishop of Newark. Bishop Bayley founded Seton Hall University and sought to establish a community of women religious, primarily to care for orphaned children and to open parochial schools in each parish. These were the beginnings of the Sisters of Charity in New Jersey. The original site of Seton Hall College and Seminary became the first Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity, which is now called Seton House, when Bishop Bayley was relocating Seton Hall College and Seminary from Madison to South Orange. But there is more: In 1859, when the congregation was established, it was named Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth in recognition of Elizabeth Ann Seton and in anticipation of her canonization. In sum, this new initiative is a partnership which follows in the footsteps of both Bishop Bayley and Mother Seton. It doesn’t get better than this,”

Under the clinical supervision of Caren Lee, LCSW, social work supervisor for Community Medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and of Prof. Mary Landriau, LCSW, Director of BA in Social Work Field Education at Seton Hall University, Margaret Bautista, a senior Social Work major, completed a 400-hour internship at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center this past May. Additional students will start their internships in early September. “Margaret had the unique opportunity as an undergraduate student to work in a hospital setting. She excelled in all the core competencies, demonstrating ethical and professional behavior while working with a diverse population,” commented Prof. Landriau.

This academic year, Seton Hall Social Work student Karla Becht will be working in the DePaul Ambulatory Center in several different clinics, including Pediatrics, OBGYN, General Medicine, and various subspecialties. In addition to participating in direct care, she will have the opportunity to advocate for uninsured patients for quality and timely access to health care and prescription drugs. She will also participate in the newly launched Domestic Violence Training for Health Care Professionals facilitated by the Paterson Police Department.

St. Joseph’s is a fitting partner given its deep tradition of quality care for the sick, especially the sick poor. St. Joseph’s commitment to the community has never faltered. The shared Setonian values of each institution are upheld with the mission of the Sisters of Charity. For further information about course offerings, research opportunities, or the double major, please contact Prof. Ines Murzaku, Director of the Catholic Studies Program, at, or Prof. Dawn Apgar, Director of the BSW program, at

Categories: Faith and Service , Health and Medicine

For more information, please contact:

  • Gloria Aroneo
  • (973) 275-2808