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The Aquilian

An energetic smile added to campus ministry

Mr. Rizzo pictured center in photo with the leaders of January 2024 Kairos. Photo credit Gonzaga Campus Ministry.

Talking to students as they pop in and out of campus ministry to running around the freshman retreat making sure every student is fed while balancing his own plate of baked ziti, Mr. Vincent Rizzo’s smiling face has made an impact on the Gonzaga Community. Mr. Rizzo is Gonzaga’s newest Assistant Director of Campus Ministry. He hails from Ohio, and like Lebron James he is “Just a Kid from Akron.” Mr. Rizzo may be new to Gonzaga’s faculty, but his own Jesuit education at Walsh Jesuit High School and then at John Carroll University have provided him with the knowledge and spirit to be an impactful campus minister at a young age.

“There’s something special about Jesuit education. I kept coming back to it. As a freshman in high school, we had a different theme every year. In my freshman year, it was cura personalities in word and deed so that care for the whole person, which I really felt during those formative years and then wanted more of and continued to buy into throughout my four years of college. As I entered my senior year and started thinking about the next steps, I knew that wherever it was I wanted to continue with Jesuit education,” Mr. Rizzo said. 

Mr. Rizzo, armed with a love for Jesuit education and a political science degree, decided to take his talents to the nation’s Capitol. On the day of his job interview at Gonzaga, he and his parents drove from Ohio through the night and early hours of the morning to make it to Washington, D.C. When walking out of the interview, he told his parents that if Gonzaga were to call and offer him the job he would answer. Answering that call has given Mr. Rizzo a community he can call family in just the short amount of time he has been at Gonzaga.

“It’s a special place. I mean it when I say that I’ve been received with open arms, not only by faculty and staff but by students alike. From my first week during orientation to finishing up that week at Claggett on the Gonzaga retreat team retreat, I’ve just been met with open arms. It feels like home; it feels like family, and there’s something really special about this community, which is what drew me here and what will keep me here,” Mr. Rizzo said. 

Rizzo’s presence in the campus ministry office cannot be understated. His co-workers and students alike have high praise for the energy and enthusiasm he brings to his job. 

“Mr. Rizzo is an excellent co-worker. He’s so much fun to have in the office. He brings life and energy to our work and really; I think he renews all of us with His Spirit, and it’s awesome to see how he means so much to the guys here at Gonzaga,” said  Dr. Colleen Karchunas, assistant director of campus ministry.

Mr. Rizzo was paired with senior Mikey Settles ‘24 on the January 2024 Kairos retreat and the two connected in their leadership of the group. 

“He’s a super nice guy. He’s super down to earth. I don’t think there’s anyone that is more energetic than him; he has a very unique personality and is very easy to talk to,” Settles said. 

Mr. Rizzo has loved the extra-curricular activities offered by Gonzaga, whether it is the retreats put on by the campus ministry office to the electric environment that is brought to every sporting event.

“I’ve loved them [Gonzaga’s extra-curriculars]. There’s something so special about all the retreats, whether that was freshman retreat with the energy around and being able to meet these freshmen fully for the first time and embrace them and show them that brotherhood and what Gonzaga is all about,” he said. “I think there’s something so special about trying to build those relationships and get to meet students and see students outside of the classroom and outside of the school.” 

Gonzaga is very excited to have welcomed Mr. Rizzo to the family and community present on Eye Street. His excitement and passion have impacted the people he has encountered, and he hopes to carry these connections as he continues to represent Gonzaga.

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    Carol CorganFeb 28, 2024 at 2:23 pm

    Colin, thanks for highlighting Mr. Rizzo and filling us all in on his backstory! Well done.