University of Mary’s Annual Day of Service Unites Hundreds of Students, Faculty, and Staff to Lead Through Service

Day of Service raking at the zoo

Day of Service Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, celebrates Homecoming Week

BISMARCK, ND — It’s amazing what hundreds of helping hands can do in a day’s time. The number of tasks that have been tackled by the University of Mary Day of Service volunteers since it began nine years ago are staggering and run the gamut: shoveling tons of debris at an empty school in Mandan; database entry at a grade school; installing fence at a national park; zoo cleanup; apple picking for a world apple bobbing record; tree wrapping to protect from winter critters; cleaning ditches from campus to the Capitol; ecumenical cleanup at Trinity Lutheran, and preparing meals for those underserved, to name just a handful. There isn’t much they haven’t done or can’t do.

University of Mary’s Day of Service has become North Dakota’s largest one-day volunteer event and is organized and run by students. And this year looks to be just as exciting and big with around 1,200 students, faculty and staff swarming the streets, businesses, and organizations of the Bismarck-Mandan community — while a group of students are bussing to Watford City to volunteer in that community. Also taking part in this event from afar are students at Mary’s campuses in Rome, Italy, and Arizona State University in Tempe.

Classes are canceled for this event so students can come together with professors and administration to serve others by giving of their time and talents. It’s an opportunity for everyone to join in fellowship to build new relationships and community.

“I expect this 9th annual Day of Service event to be a physical representation of the formation and education that our students have received here at the University of Mary,” said Marty Longsdorf, Mission for Life coordinator that the University of Mary. “It is an opportunity for them to give of themselves in new ways and partake in the broader community around us. I hope that the students can learn more about themselves and what they have been made for by serving in this way. Our goal here at the university is for students to not just simply partake in more activities or events, but that they are sent on mission in learning to give their lives away in love. My hope is that the Day of Service will be a springboard for the student body to enter into this mission every single day.”

The event begins on campus at 8 a.m. in the Starion Living Room, located in the lower level of the Lumen Vitae University Center, with a candlelight procession into the McDowell Activity Center (MAC) for an All-School Mass and Day of Service Commissioning. Breakfast will follow in the lower level of The Crow’s Nest Restaurant before students and faculty begin their service projects from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. A homecoming feast will be served in the Crow’s Nest Restaurant at 5:30 p.m. followed by Coronation at 7 p.m. in Founders Hall.

Serving others is a big part of the University of Mary’s mission since being founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery.

As part of the ongoing Vision 2030 Campaign, University of Mary’s student body recommitted itself to becoming servant leaders of moral courage, providing a culture grounded in service, fostering a great capacity to pour themselves out in loving service to others. The new, campus-wide Day of Service campaign that began in 2014 answers that pledge and strengthens every student’s commitment and understanding that each were made for more.

Anyone who wishes to learn more about the University of Mary can do so at or, or by contacting an admissions representative at, or by calling (701) 355-8030. The University of Mary is one of only 15 Recommended Cardinal Newman Society Residential Colleges and Universities in the US.

About the University of Mary: True to its motto “lumen vitae”—The Light of Life—the University of Mary offers education for the whole of life through cutting-edge professional programs and graduate programs animated by moral courage and leadership in chosen professions and service to the community. A private, co-educational Catholic institution, the University of Mary welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.

A Christian, Catholic, Benedictine institution founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Mary offers nearly 60 bachelor’s, 18 master’s, and five doctoral programs—in Business Administration, Education, Nursing Practice, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. The 20-sport Athletic Department adheres to its Greatness Through Virtue mission under the governance of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), and the USA College Clay Target League. With more than 3,800 students, Mary has locations in North Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Rome, Italy, as well as vibrant online offerings