How does the Marianist charism affect your everyday life?
We asked that question of Maureen O’Rourke ’05, director of PULSE, a post-graduate service program of the Society of Mary.
Two courses taught by Brother Ray Fitz, S.M., really nudged me to live the charism in the urban core of Dayton.
Living in the Five Oaks neighborhood for the last 12 years, I have served on the neighborhood association board with many committed individuals. Joan Means, in particular, has a steadfast dedication, confidence and passion for inner-ring neighborhoods.
At our local Catholic church — while serving spaghetti, delivering care packages and engaging children while their caregivers enjoyed their meal — Joan and I shared stories.
Since 2015 I have worked with Marianist PULSE (Partners in Urban Leadership, Service and Education). Each of our volunteers serves 35 hours per week from August to June at nonprofits in Dayton meeting needs for education, justice, integrity of creation and food access.
I told Joan of our challenges in finding housing. One evening, while Joan and I were offering desserts to guests, she said she’d like to buy the PULSE program a house.
We now own a home in the heart of Five Oaks.
Joan’s gift honors her late husband, Michael Means, who served on UD’s faculty for 38 years. Mike had a passion for medieval literature, the circus, the Marianist charism and family spirit of UD, and the Five Oaks neighborhood. He and Joan served on countless city and neighborhood committees and boards.
Her passion has enlivened her work as a Dayton Public Schools teacher, her neighborhood leadership and her gardening. As we prepared to close on our new home, Joan was meeting neighbors, weeding the yard and dropping off pots of flower arrangements.
The home will be called the Michael Means Marianist PULSE Community. In the dining room volunteers will gather for meals and, for spiritual nourishment, in the second-floor chapel. On their porch, they will form relationships with neighbors, living in solidarity.