Editor’s Note: Award winner Emma Laut pictured on far left of featured image.

Franciscan Mission Service is proud to present the first-ever San Damiano Servant Leadership Award to Emma Laut of Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Through her extensive work with several social justice-minded organizations and her dedication to her faith in Christ, Laut embodies what it means for a student to be dedicated to serving her community with over 400 hours of registered service hours.

The selection committee was impressed with how Franciscan and service values permeated all aspects of Laut’s life. This lived-witness encourages her peers along their own personal and spiritual journeys. “Emma never stops serving,” Director of the San Damiano Program at Marian University Mark Erdosy said. Laut is well-known for her random acts of kindness around campus, such as keeping care packages and food at the ready for the homeless she encounters.

Throughout high school, the Indianapolis native annually attended her church-sponsored mission trip to a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. She extended this passion for working with the Navajo into her college years taking charge and leading a retreat for Marian University’s San Damiano Scholars Program.

As a high school senior, two of her friends opened the only Catholic Workers Movement house in the city, where Laut gladly helped and continues to help today by spending time with the patrons at community dinners, and also aiding in the formation of unions for both the local hotel workers, and also her university’s grounds crew.

“It’s something that has been very near and dear to me,” she said. It takes what I have been learning throughout my life about social justice and working with friends to make a difference.”

Laut has even found a way to garner her passion for and dedication to her biology major to impact the city as well. Through her internship with Growing Places, an organization that focuses on urban agriculture, as well as overall health and wellness, she has run after school programs to educate youth about health and wellness, as well as starting a compost initiative for the local community.

Dorothy Day, one of Laut’s role models, started the Catholic Worker Movement from nothing but passion and dedication. Likewise, so did the founding members of Growing Places in 2012. “It was born out of nothing,” Laut said.There was no federal grant, just a passion they’ve had and they’ve already started to make a difference.”

Laut will receive the San Damiano Servant Leadership Award at Franciscan Mission Service’s annual World Care Benefit and Celebration on May 1 in Washington, DC. While in the capital, Laut will attend meetings with social justice-minded individuals and organizations who share her interest and be awarded a check for $500, which she will donate to several of the organizations she works and volunteers with.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to get closer to such a good program like FMS,” Laut said. “Winning this award gives me the opportunity to show my gratitude to the organizations I work with by giving the proceeds to them. It gives merit to all the good work that they do.”

Emma Laut

Emma Laut