Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Emmaus: the Ministry Center

Sill Davis, Director of Ministry Center

I spent a lot of time working at the Ministry Center. This was a special place. It was in the basement and it felt like you were at a friend’s home. It had sofas, a dinning room area, a kitchen and an area to do laundry. Additionally there was the pantry and my favorite, the chapel.

Often times the place erupted in song, the guys singing hymns. It was beautiful. Sometimes the guys’ issues came with them and the issues would have to be dealt with. There was the aroma of home cooking. This included the guys making fried chicken, from scratch, peach cobbler, great salads, and spicy veggies.

There was always the sound of guys interacting with staff. This included everything from looking for mail, to doing chores to working on daily goals. The goals were often important: following up with doctors or the court, finding out about housing, preparing for the GED or calling family.

The center was staffed by the interns from Kiao Community and volunteers. It was directed by two very capable folks, Sill Davis the director and Lennette Reynolds the assistant director. Sill saw the guys one-to-one. He worked with other agencies and with the staff. He was a steady guide in the place that often found itself responding the chaos of our guys’ lives. Lennete often redirected the guys and supported them and at times mothered them. She was also directly responsible for the prison outreach program.

These two folks were always busy. They always knew what other workers were up to and how to support them. Together they modeled the head of a family. They modeled their faith and they modeled unconditional love. They were great to work with and I appreciate their guidance and support.

Lennette Reynolds, Assistant Director of the Ministry Center

Drum Roll Please

Well, it is not important. It doesn't change a thing. The world turns, important issues demand our response. Still, 15,000, I just got my 15,000th hit. I started the blog two years ago as a whim. I never knew if I would continue past the first month. It has become a sort of therapy/hobby for me. So, 15,000, I like it. I don't need to notice again for another 5,000 hits. But today I notice, yipee!!!

The Faces of Emmaus Ministries

This is why I know the coming year for Emmaus Ministries will be a good year. As John readies for sabbatical he chose Jonathan Hancock to be acting director. As you will see, he is the right man person for the job. He has commitment to Emmaus. He knows the issues. He has pastoral training. However, what comes out clearly is his commitment, his passion for the well-being of the staff of Emmaus. You want a business or mission to succeed you value its primary assets. In this case those assets are the staff.

Jonathan Hancock Associate Executive Director of Emmaus Ministries

One of those staff members that is so highly valued is Doug Van Ramshorst. He is the director of Outreach. His personal style, his professionalism and his comfort with diversity makes him a valuable member of the team. I loved working with Doug.

I will introduce more staff members in the days to come.

Doug and Emmaus Ministries Outreach

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thoughts on Emmaus Ministry

Well, I am done writing about Collegium 2009. It was wonderful and I hope to hear from other participants or as they are now known as, Collegium Fellows. In the coming days and weeks I will get caught up on talking about Emmaus Ministry in Chicago.

Now I did a lot of blogging about my training experience at Emmaus. However, I did not have the video ready. I am still hoping that the photos I took can be recovered. However, even without the photos there is enough to talk about.

I felt a real connection between Emmaus Ministry in Chicago and Saint John’s University and Collegium. Sure the experiences were very different. However, the experience of getting to know God in our limited capacity, of struggling to be humble, of recognizing we are all made in the image of God connected both places.

My fondness for Emmaus is not just working with the guys, it is working with the staff. This was an ecumenical staff that got it. They got that it was important to recognize all we as Christians of various traditions have in common. They got that we are to go out into all the world. They got they we are all broken and yet all worth loving.

This ministry owes its mission, roots and energy to its founder, Deacon John Green. He shared his family with us. He gave direction and support. John will be taking a sabbatical for a year. However, because of his commitment to this ministry Emmaus will be left in good hands. It will be a good year.

Deacon John Green Talking About Emmaus Ministry

I never knew which aspect of Emmaus I loved more. There was the Ministry Center which was open to our guys daily. At the Center the guys could get their mail, take showers, do laundry and have a home cooked meal. They worked on goals, they did chores and made a contribution. It was a great place.

The Ministry Center of Emmaus Ministry

There was outreach in which we went to the streets from 10 PM to 3 AM letting guys know about Emmaus. It was a supportive, respectful ministry. The guys knew we were there to help and not preach at them.

There was Kiao Community on the third floor. The community consisted of interns who made a year commitment to the ministry. I lived with Kiao for a month and it was a great experience I will never forget.

So, this is what the videos will be about in the coming days. Hopefully it will also include photos be even without I will love remembering my friend and brothers and sisters in Chicago.

Peace and all Good,

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Collegium on Faith and Intellectual Life: Day Nine

Well, it was finally over. We all got up early and made our journeys to different locals around the nation. It was a wonderful week. I hope to participate in Collegium in the future. I am sure the "Spirit of Collegium" will be alive and well on our campus.

So, on to a simple journey from Minneapolis to Fort Wayne Indiana, or so I thought! I got up at 4:30 and was at the airport early. I was bumped from United (too full because of the Cubs and White Sox game) to Continental. Two hours later they got behind schedule because of problems in Jersey and I was sent back to United. They sent me to American. I arrived in Chicago a few minutes after my connecting flight took off. I then boarded a plane at 6:00 PM and was taken off it at 6:01. I spent a night in a hotel. Finally, Saturday morning I set foot at Fort Wayne International Airport. I felt like doing a JPII and bending down and kissing the tarmac! Home, I was finally home!

Collegium on Faith and Intellectual Life: Day Eight


This was a bitter-sweet day. We had a great week and we all wanted to go home. Yet we did not want to leave one another and we certainly did not want to leave this beautiful campus and monastery.

Being the last full day did not mean being a slow day. We had our second Disciplinary Group. We had two Small Group sessions. All of them focused on the practical. That included saying good bye and deciding how we could continue this journey at our own institutions and how to make it useful. We also talked about how to maintain balance in our lives. I am a psychologist who focuses on disaster mental health, this is important to me. My students would say “self-care” is my mantra. It also fits in with our Benedictine setting.

Our final prayer group before Eucharist was our “Sending Forth” ceremony. Each Small Group went to the front of the chapel. The mentor then privately gave them a message, prayer or blessing and lit a candle they each held. Then the larger group raised their hands and said:

Let the effect of your blessing
Remain with your faithful people
Top give them new life and strength of spirit,
So that the power of your love
May enable them to accomplish what is right and good

It was a beautiful ceremony. We then had our final Mass celebrated by one of the monks.

Afterwards we had a social at the Monastery yards between the church and the Great Hall. That was followed by a wonderful banquet in the Great Hall. It was a time of good food, good wine, toasts and a chance to hear Parker talk about his wife, the sacrifices all our loved ones made so we could be here and then to hear him sing!

That however was not the end of the evening. After the banquet there was a bonfire. We all went to bed tired, after talking, laughing and gazing at the star-filled sky, it was time to sleep and then go home!

Parker, “The Ring of Fire” in the Great Hall

Episcopalian House of Prayer

Collegium on Faith and Intellectual Life: Day Seven

This was a day of preparing to launch while consolidating what we have gained. However, it was not a day of saying we learned it all! In fact we had a guest speaker. Christine Firer-Hinze from Fordham spoke on Catholic Social Thought. This was a timely conversation because she addressed economics and workers rights. This included a history of the Catholic Church’s teaching from the industrial age to Vatican II. She also introduced us to work of MSGR. John A. Ryan. Many of us had never heard of him and yet he was on of the most influential proponents of Catholic Social Thought in the first half of the 20th century.

The talk gave us new concepts to add to our Small Group discussions. The talk was important in terms of broadening our understanding of what it meant to be Catholic

So our Small Groups addressed how our Catholic institutions could be shaped in light of all our reading. Not a minor discussion! Our Small Group had definitely bonded. Members were spending time with one another in between meetings. We knew one anothers sense of humor. It was a good group.

Afterward the members had the evening off. Some went into Minneapolis to eat at a nice restaurant, walk the streets and see the sights. Some went to Mall of America. One of our Small Group members, Janet, had discovered the Episcopalian House of Prayer. It was a meditation center and retreat. Four of us walked over there.

The place was wonderful. The architecture appeared very Japanese . The geust rooms were simple, the common rooms beautiful and full of color. The meditation room was great. It was round with Zen pillows, a circle for candles and a prayer pole in the center. There were Christian icons. The four windows were diamond shaped and you could see all of the lush green trees and shrubbery when you looked out the windows.

We changed into meditation robes. We joined eight other folks. We entered the room and sat in silence. The leader lead us in chants. He had a number o f different chimes and instruments to guide us. We meditated for an hour. This included a slow, mediation walk around the room. Afterward we toured the building.

Thank you Janet for such a special night!

Our Small Group Class Room

Collegium: Prayer and Contemplation

To say that Collegium was far more than reading and discussing the changing Catholic culture in America would be an understatement. Sure, we explored how we maintain our Catholic identity and what that meant. We explored our own journeys and what worked for others. We discussed the changes in Catholic academic culture following Vatican II. However, we did not simply stay in our heads, this was not simply a cerebral week. We prayed, reflected and listened and for that we had guidance.

We have been blessed by great leadership. This was true for both Mission-Values and Planning through Tom Landy, and in making sure EVERYTHING was in order thanks to Joyce Gawlick. We had great Small Group leaders and our retreat leaders helped blend the intellectual with the practiced spiritual.

However, the one group that kept all of us focused everyday were the Ministry Leaders. Megan Fox-Kelly and Marty Kelly were our spiritual directors. They did their jobs with authority. They were sensitive, creative and fun. The provided us with guided worship in the morning and evening, they taught us styles of prayer. They organized Eucharist.

Some of our lessons and techniques included:

Praying with Scripture
Centering Prayer
“Rummaging for God”
Remembrance and Spirituality
Imagination and Prayer

The sessions often flowed seamlessly into the next activity. The Sending Forth ceremony was a wonderful integration of the Small Groups and the larger Collegium of 2009.

Place becomes important. We are at a Benedictine Monastery so of course place should be important. We have so many places here that touch us. There are multiple chapels, many in the Saint John Abbey Church. However, there is also the Emmaus Chapel that we use and love. There is the chapel at the College of Saint Benedict that rises up in all it’s white splendor in contrast to the strong cement walls of St. John Abbey Church. There is the chapel across the lake we all walk to individually. There are statues, the grotto and we all can describe our own personal favorite places to listen and pause. There is the Great Hall and there are gardens.

So, among all of the formal learning, all the laughing and joking and all the budding friendships there was prayer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CSB/SJU: A Catholic and Benedictine Tradition

CSB/SJU: A Catholic and Benedictine Tradition

Every Job is an Important Job

Our visit to the College of Saint Benedict was great. It was fascinating to see how these two very different schools with different cultures interacted. They had a shared curriculum. They had shared Benedictine values. Both had monasteries. However, they were also very different. One school was in town, the other in the woods. One was male, the other female. One very modern architecture, the other traditional

We took a bus to get from one campus to the other. Our bus driver was John Doman. One of our members asked him how he liked his job. I remember his answer, "I can't believe I get paid to do this." He loved his job.

John told us he took the job to fill some time. Before he knew it he fell in love with spending time with young folks. he started giving quizzes on the bus, trivia tests. The winner would get a DumDum sucker. The students would compete for the prize and become energetic. I though perhaps he exaggerated. Then he told us that as time went by his students graduated. They would then call him and ask him to drive for their weddings and reactions, but only if he promised to play the trivia games while driving!

It was great meeting John. It was a clear reminder that what is important is relationship. And now I discovered a brief video clip of John, enjoy.

Bus driver offers trivial pursuit aboard campus shuttle

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Brothers and Sisters

The campus was full of life. Not just students and professors or monks, sisters and the occasional friar. Life was everywhere to be found. When I spoke with Cathi on the phone she could hear all of the birds singing. As you walked by the shore you could see fish swimming near the shore.

Deer on the Trail in the Morning

In the morning and the early evening you could see deer eating grasses and watching you. There were squirrel, chipmunks, every variety of bird and there were turtles, boy was there turtles.

Sally the Turtle

At times it was difficult to get from one place to another because our brothers and sisters just had to be spoken to and so we did. And of course they listened and sometimes talked back to us.

This Benedictine Abbey and campus was a wonderful place to be Franciscan!

The Trails

By the Shores of Lake Sag

One of the best parts of being at Collegium this year was walking the trails. They were everywhere.. Trees, swamps, gardens, it was a world of green. It was also a world of shade and sun light dancing against the foliage.

The Grotto

Between the trees, the ferns, the lakes and the sky it was hard to focus on the tasks we were assigned. Lucky for us it was cold and rains the first part of the week!

Lily of the Mohawk

The Little Chapel on the Lake

One of our favorite hikes was to the other side of Lake Sag. There we would enter the Chapel of Mary, Star of the Lake or the Stella Maris Chapel on Lake Sagatagan. The chapel is directly across from the Grotto. To get there you have to hike and hike and hike! The trails are beautiful. You could also take a canoe there, it has a dock.

The chapel is simple. No seats just stain glass windows and a statue. However, the windows are of fish and water, there is also a rose window with a large star. The statue is of Mary about five months pregnant.

I was able to get to the chapel three times while I was there. Each time was an adventure. Each time was different. I hope to visit the chapel again in the future.

Chapel and Monastery Cemetery

Collegium on Faith and Intellectual Life: Day Six

Today was a day of retreat. It was great. We had to choose between Benedictine, Franciscan, Jesuit spiritualities or Christian Completive Prayer and finally Family Prayer. I choose the Benedictine approach and could not have been happier. Because of that choose I was able to see and touch the Saint John Bible.

This was a great day for a variety of reasons. We all broke into new groups and interacted with different folks. We stopped acting like graduate students and acted like we were actually at a monastery!

I loved learning about the charism of place and time, of balance between labor and prayer and between listening and then acting.

Our spiritual class was in the chapel in Saint John Abbey Church. Afterward we had Mass and we all moved back to a different chapel in the back. During the homily we heard about St. Saint Peregrine the Martyr. St. Peregrine was a 12 year old boy in Rome during the reign of the Emperor Commodus. This is the same Emperor we have all seen in the movie The Gladiator. In the year 192 the Emperor demanded his subjects worship him as the demigod Hercules. Peregrine was one of four young men who refused to worship the Emperor. Young Peregrine was tortured. He was thrown in the dungeon. He was placed on the rack, he was whipped. Finally he was flogged to death with leaded whips. The young martyr’s relics have been venerated ever since.

So why the homily on this young man, as inspiring as it was? Because his remains did not stay in Rome. In fact, his remains were right in front of us. This was the first full relic I had ever seen. I saw many others but they were mainly parts or covered. Not so with Peregrine. Here was a skeleton with cloth and the red material to show he was a martyr. Now I am not a fan of relics, they kind of weird me out. Still, here I was in Minnesota being connected with the early Church, with a true martyr and with the Emperor Commodus.

I pay attention to modern martyrs. Sadly there ware far too many of them. The 20th century has been the century of martyrs.

So today I learned a Benedictine method of prayer. I saw and touched the Saint John Bible and I saw and spent time with St. Peregrine. All of this while being with my fellow travelers in Collegium. This was a day I would always remember.

Saint John's Univesity: Around Campus

The campus was wonderful. It was full of wonderful lines, curves, bricks, stone and statues. There were gardens everywhere. The campus smelled of blossoms.

Each building had its own secrets to tell you. Handmade bricks, the Saint john Bible, the Liturgical Press, pottery, pendulums. Each turn lead to a different vista and another reason to smile.

This campus was surrounded by trees, lakes, birds, deer, turtles and the memories of the First Americans. This was a special place and time.

Saint John’s University Campus

Outside of the Great Hall

There were visitors throughout the week. There were local and regional conferences. There were young college students. There were monks and sisters. And yet, despite all of this activity this was a quiet place

Inside the Great Hall

Between the trails, the apartments, the classroom buildings and the many, many chapels there was God. God was waiting to be discovered, to be listened to and to be with.

My Small Group

There were seven Small Groups. These were folks from different schools and different disciplines. Each group was unique. All of the groups had great members and great leaders. I however, was really, really lucky. My Small Group consisted of the most intelligent, funniest and most attractive of all of the Small Groups. Any member of Collegium may send me an article, photo or video to post and I will gladly do that. However, do not send me a letter questioning the objectivity of the above statement. I would toss it out faster than a Democrat’s vote gets tossed out in Florida! (OK, I still have issues about that.)

Our members were:
Sheila Candelario, Ph,.D, Fairfield University
Bill R. Wilkes, CPA, Our Lady of the Lake College
Iskandar A. Arifin, Ph.D candidate, University of Connecticut
Tim M. Trygstad, Ph.D., The College of St. Scholastica
Craig J. Rivera, Ph.D., Niagra University
Maeve M. O’Donovan, Ph.D., College of Notre Dame of Maryland
Kristin Anne Fieseler, MFA, DeSales University
Brian J. Els, Ph.D., University of Portland
Janet Maher, MFA, Loyola College in Maryland

This was a diverse group. It included performance and visual arts, the sciences, social and behavioral science, history, philosophy, languages, journalism and administration. Sheila was recognized as one of the 50 most influential Latina Women in New York City, 2004. Isaknder was from Indonesia, a Catholic from the largest Islamic nation in the world.. Bill was a Southern gentleman.

This was a group that challenged the readings, bonded quickly and was just plain fun. Their personal styles were all very different. Some were very emotive which was a challenge for this stoic Norwegian-American. Some read everything, others skimmed. All contributed making Collegium 2009 an excellent experience. Yep, they were the best.

Saint John Abbey Church

Saint John’s Abbey Church

Inside Saint John’s Abbey Church

College of Saint Benedict Church

These are photos taken by Collegium members at the church. All you photographers, feel free to comment and take credit for your keen eye and sense of image. In the meantime, thanks for sharing!