Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Front Yard Community

Well, as I mentioned with the last post, this is a time of catch up! So what do I have first? To start with, just some video of my animal friends who visit our front yard daily. This was last summer. We had made a decision to get rid of the grass. Our yard is all grasses and flowers. Oh, and bird feeders, squirrel feeders and bird baths. Francis would approve! Front Yard Feeding I am especially fond of the Morning Doves and the Woodpeckers. We also get visits from Blue Jays, Cardinals, and finches. We are beginning to develop an impressive little library on birds! A Busy Front Yard I love our squirrels. However, my favorite visitor is this sneaky little chipmunk. If we are in the house he is brave and will eat with the squirrels and birds. However, if we are anywhere near the yard he does the best disappearing act I have ever seen. Chipmunk in My Front Yard Well, now it is winter. Our guests are less spectacular but the one’s who have stayed our loyal. I like our little community.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

USF Graduation 2011

Well I have fallen far behind in my blogging. First I had to make sure I blogged the unique events of the summer. That included attending the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution global conference in May. In June I attended Collegium in Massachusetts. In July I attended a four day conference at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York. All of these needed to be covered. What I did not post was our graduation in the beginning of May. This was a unique event for me. Instead of participating in the graduation as a faculty member I sat in the bleachers with Cathi. I was the proud father of a daughter graduating with highest honors. I got to watch the pageantry from above. I got to watch the procession; the President and Provost, the Bishop and faculty formally greet the graduating students. I got to watch my graduate and under graduate students and especially my daughter move from being students to being graduates. I have a lot of catching up to do. That includes summer day tripos, fall festivals, community service days. However, first I need to finally post my daughter’s graduation. Very late but for those involved in the day it is still fun to watch . Preparing for USF Commencement 2011 I liked watching the faculty forum executive officers prepare for the Commencement. I served three years on the executive committee and I shared their excitement. Best of all, I shared their excitement and pride without any of the related anxieties. It is good to be an observer! USF Graduation 2011: The Stage is Set I remember carrying the mace. It was made by our Dean of the School of the Arts, Rick Cartwright. It feels medieval, academic and connects the students and the day with the history of the academy. USF Graduation 2011: It Begins It was only a couple of years ago that we started the tradition of faculty crating an honor corridor for the students. It feels so good to see all of their smiling faces. b USF Graduation 2011: Oh My,T here’s Amy Carrigan-Smith! b I felt excited not just recognizing students, it was good to see collegues, friends making the day a Rite of Passage. USF Graduation 2011: the Students Enter Finally, the students entered the hall, it had begun. USF Graduation 2011: The Stage Once the stage was occupied the students began to fill the hall. What was moments ago a huge echoing hall becomes full and the robes, the music, and the proud parents. All serve to set a tone of the celebration. USF Graduation 2011: The Hall Fills I have to say, I was not at all neutral or stoic when I say my graduate students! USF Graduation 2011: Some of My Graduate Students Finally we sighted Kerri and she looked so happy. She should be, she worked so hard for four straight years. USF Graduation 2011: My Baby! USF Graduation 2011: So Happy! USF Graduation 2011: Such a Big Screen! USF Graduation 2011: Dr. Daniel Introducing the Bishop USF Graduation 2011: The Bishop Ah, more graduate students! USF Graduation 2011: Shannon, Katie, Janelle and Jesse Finally, the moment Cathi and I had been waiting for! USF Graduation 2011: Kerri Gets Her Diploma The last official act and then…the march into adulthood. USF Graduation 2011: The Turning of the Tassels It was a great day. Afterward we joined Jared’s family and went out for dinner. All and all it was a day that lived up to its expectations. It was a day that marked a turning point in so many lives. It was a beautiful Commencement in Fort Wayne. USF Graduation 2011: It Is Done For our family it was the culmination of a wonderful journey at the University of Saint Francis. Kerri had written for the school paper. She had presented a poster at the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities 2010 Symposium held at USF. She had won numerous literary awards. She had an A-, her one none A! She graduated with highest honors and was recognized as an Outstanding Student in Psychology. She was also a pilgrim to Assisi and Rome. Finally, to top it all off, she met her fiancée at uSF. Yep, it had been a great four years. Kerri’s USF Journey

Monday, September 5, 2011

AFCU-SBU Liberal Arts Conference 2011: Spaces and Places

There was so much to learn while we were at St. Bonaventure University for the AFCU conference. However, there was also so much to see. This was a big campus, a beautiful setting and it was oh so Franciscan!

Each night after dinner we had a social at the Thomas Merton Center. It was a great way to unwind, to plan implementation and to get to know new people.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: A Social at the Thomas Merton Center

We ate in the Hickey Dining Hall. This was considered the regular, nothing special hall. Well, I was impressed with it!

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: The Dining Hall

I walked over to the Reilly Center. I wanted to visit the sports complex again. I would love to see a basket ball game here. The excitement, the noise, it must be wonderful.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Reilly Center II

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Reilly Center

While on campus the Franciscan Institute had a sale on their publications. While the Institute is hosed in the library their inventory was kept at a place known as “the Crypt.” I suspect our gas mileage was lower driving home because we all bought so many books.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Campus by the Crypt

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Outside of the Crypt

Our conference was initially headquartered at the R. Jones Trustee Room in Doyle Hall. Next to it was the chapel. The chapel reflected a time when each priest said Mass and so there were individual altars. The mosaics were colorful and wonderful to just gaze at. Unfortunately I could nevfr get in to video with the lights on. Even dimmed it is a beautiful space for worship.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: SBU Chapel

That was our July trip. The challenge now is to apply what we learned to our own discipline. The challenge is for the various schools that make up the AFCU to support one another. It was a great conference and I hope there is a follow up. We can do this.

AFCU-SBU Liberal Arts Conference: An Early Morning Walk to the Cemetery

We listened, we studied, we learned. We also laughed, ate, drank and made new friends. And I walked. One of my walks along the river was a quiet moment of looking, seeing, and appreciating a simple creature.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Life Beside the River

On our last morning I got up early and walked to the cemetery. Along the road were blossoms that were quietly waiting to be appreciated.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Blossoms on the Side of the Road

When I finally got to the cemetery it was almost too dark to see the Grotto. I could se it but I could not film it proprerly. This is just a hint of how stunning it was.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: The Cemetery Grotto

The cemetery had tombstones from the 1800s. It connected you to the land and the people. This was another dimension of community we often forget. Best of all, no vampires!

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: A Walk in the Morning to the Cemetery

On my walk back to the campus there were more plants awaiting my attention. The campus we beginning to wake up, that was good, I was ready for some coffee.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Walking Along the Road

AFCU-SBU Liberal Arts Conference 2011: Rare Books Collection

By the third day of the conference we are all attending breakout sessions. That took us to another part of the campus. It also helped us individualize our training. We were learning a lot. In the morning I attended a talk by Sister Carney the president of SBU. I went to her talk because I was interested in Clare. I also went because Margaret had been one of our guides on our pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome. It was good to see her again.

Still, as interesting as the talks were the campus kept calling us to her. After lunch we had one of our most interesting tours. We got to see the Rare Books Collection. The library is a beautiful, formal library. There are stacks, alcoves to read in and pillars at the entryway. The Rare Books Collection is in a separate but connected building that is climate controlled.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Father Joe and the Library

The following is a collection of video clips from the tour. Two things are clear, it is an impressive collection and I am not a movie maker! I should edit and remove some of these clips however, the tour was important to many of the members. I have no idea which clip best illustrates what the participant wanted to see or remember. So for better or worse here are all of them!

When we began the tour we did not know we were entering a separate building. The books on display would have been enough to keep many of us happy. However, that was just the beginning.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Entering the Rare Book Collection

The books were from different centuries and even different collections. When a college with a Franciscan book collection had to close it ‘s doors it would send its collection to SBU. They knew the books would be cared for and valued. The result is one of the largest collections in the United States and a center of scholarly research whose reach is worldwide.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Rare Book Collection and Still More Books

The climate control, the security precautions and the restoration programs all reflected just how important and special this collection was.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Rare Book Collection Climate Control

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: The Stacks of the Rare Books Collection

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Rare Books and Dr. Spath

Dr. Spath provided a casual and yet useful tour. It was clear he was a man who was happy with his job. Joseph Campbell would have described Dr. Spath as a man who followed his bliss.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Rare Book Collection Tour

I think we all left the tour wondering if we would ever have occasion to use the resources the collection had to offer. I suspect we were trying to find a way to integrate and apply the treasures of this collection to our own disciplines.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Rare Book Collection

So, that was our tour. It was wonderful and yet it was just a pause in the conference. It was time to go back and learn more.

AFCU-SBU Liberal Arts Conference 2011: A Small Town Church

Many members of our group would get up early and drive into town to attend St. Bonaventure Church for morning Mass. The town was tiny, the church simple and yet, it was such a nice setting for worship. The people were friendly and inviting. The priest was a Franciscan who was always happy to see other members of the Franciscan family.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Outside of St. Bonaventure Church

The inside of the church was deceptive (in a good way!) The outside appeared simple. The inside of the church was beautiful. It was easy to see why so any people made the trek each morning for Mass. Sure it was a sign of devotion but it was also reflective of people who appreciated how special their church was.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: St. Bonaventure Church

I only attended Mass once in the Morning. Others in our group went daily. They knew how to start the day off right!

AFCU-SBU Liberal Arts Conference: A Walk in the Fog

I normally get up very early on trips. This allows me to get in some exploring before we get to work. I was less driven at SBU to get up so early. I had been here before. Still, I did want to walk along the river early in the morning.

Six years ago I was walking along the river when I encountered a young “moose” standing in the river drinking. When it saw me is casually galloped away, lifting it’s heavy hoofs and splashing in the water that was spotted my sun light that peeked between the tree tops. The animal did not have antlers or I cold have know immediately if it was a moose or a caribou. It did have a hump and a shovel mouth and it was large and ‘lunky” looking. So I called it a moose. I was teased for what seemed for ever since there are no moose in this area. However, when I called Natural Resources they told me it was a cross between a European Red Deer and an Asian Deer that is raided in the area. They are smaller than moose and bigger than caribou. They are also the only animal that has the shovel mouth when young. So I walked hoping to see another miracle in the morning.

I was not disappointed. What I found was a fog so thick I could only see a few feet ahead of me. I had also never seen a fog disappear so quickly. By the time I was ready for breakfast there was no indication that the campus had been hidden in fog. It was a time of quiet and solitude and I loved it.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: A Morning Walk in the Fog

After slowly and carefully making my way to the river path I watched the fog lift. The path was revealed and I felt like I was on my way to Middle Earth. It was a nice way to begin a day.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: A Morning Walk by the River

As I walked along the river on my way to breakfast my eye caught a spider web glimmering in the morning light. Upon closer inspection I discovered a whole world of beauty and architecture. It was not a moose but it was wonderful. Morning walks are almost always magical if you allow yourself to see!

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: The Web of Life

AFCU-SBU Liberal Education Conference 2011: The Quick Art Center

Our conference was serious. We were being called upon to be innovators of higher education and at the same time to be guardians of a precious treasure, our Franciscan Intellectual Tradition. We were presented with models of education, research history. Still, during breaks thee was time to be explorers!

I wanted our group to make sure they spent time in the Quick Art Center. The last time I was here the curator had been a fellow pilgrim with me at Assisi. She gave us a great tour. I wanted our group to see how wonderful SBU’s art collection was. However, in fact our group did not need any prodding from me. They were all natural explorers.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Quick Art Center Entry

The Art Center had some special collections. My undergrad degree was in Political Science/Asian Affairs so I was very happy to see the exhibit on Chinese art.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Chinese Collection

I also liked the African Art Exhibit. There was a lot to be seen from a vast continent and yet it was not a large room. The use of space allowed for ‘traveling” through space and time.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: The Quick Art Center African Collection

The Permanent Collection was far more formal and far more European/Western. I liked it but I am not an artist or art historian. I was drawn to the other exhibits.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Quick Art Center Permanent Collection

The first floor was simply an excellent way to be introduced to the building. It was a magi door. Outside was hustle and bustle, the race for knowledge and a degree. Once you cross the threshold you entered a quiet place that stimulated the senses and demanded your attention. I loved this space.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: The Regina A. Quick Art Center 1st Floor

AFCU-SBU Liberal Education Conference 2011: The Beginning

St. Bonaventure University in Western New York sponsored an Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU) symposium on “Liberal Education and Franciscan Pedagogues” from July 25 to July 28th. The University of Saint Francis Fort Wayne sent an impressive delegation. It has lead by the Dean of the School or Arts and Science, Matt Smith. The team included Earl Kumfer, Trish Bugajski, Connie Collins, Dan Torlone, Sister Anita Holzmer , sister Mary Govert and myself. We were the largest delegation at the conference. I think an objective evaluation would also reveal we were the must fun and the best looking as well!

It was a long drive. Once we got to the university and got our rooms we had a little time to wind down before the opening of the conference. I immediately took a walk along the shore of the Allegheny River. The campus is large, over 500 acres. It is framed by low mountains and the river. Forty five minutes away the school also has a mountain retreat. It is a beautiful setting.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: First Afternoon Along the River

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Walking Along the Allegheny River

Behind the sports complex and across the river , on the side of a hill/mountain is “Merton’s Heart.” This is where Thomas Merton went to meditate when he was at SBU. For a man who was rejected by the Franciscans (to be a friar) and became a Trappist, his influence on the campus is substantial. I always feel happy looking at “Merton’s Heart.”

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: SBU Merton's Heart

With the little bit of time we had we did a little exploring of the campus. I had been to SBU for their AFCU Symposium six years ago. It was like visiting an old friend. I loved the buildings, the open spaces, the library.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: The SBU Campus

I always liked spending a little time at the Oratory. It was one of the many ways you knew you were at SBU.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: The Oratory

Inside the Oratory was a quiet place of meditation. You were cut off from the busy campus. It was a place of meditation

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Inside the Oratory

However, as I stated, it was a brief time to explore. At 4:30 the conference began. The first presentation set the tone, “Liberal Education in the 21st Century: The Challenge and Opportunity.”The talk let us know what would happen to schools that did not meet the challenges of distant learning, a move toward professional school education or government funding that was often gong to for-profit schools. It also highlighted what we as Franciscans had to offer that was of value and different. It was food for thought.

And so went then went, had had some food at Hickey Dinning Hall. Finally we had drinks and conversation at the Merton Ministry Center. It was the beginning of a productive and four weeks.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Day Trip With My Nephew: a Wee Hoosier Renaissance Faire

After coming home from the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution global conference I had some catching up to do. One of those joyful obligations on my list was to spend some time with my great-great-nephew, Andre. Cathi suggested that the two of us go visit the Renaissance Faire in Huntington Indiana. I do not normally think of such things as guy time but Andre and I both have vivid imaginations so it sounded good.

Now to be sure it was not your usual Renaissance Faire. There were bar maids and pirates, flood control outside the park and carnival food. There were however lords and ladies, minstrel singers, carnival games, jousting and the Queen.

Now to be sure, watching the Queen hold court was exciting by there was something else that kept grabbing my attention and was that Shakira I heard singing?

It was a grand time and a great way to spend time with a seven year old boy.

Day Trip: Huntington's Renaissance Faire

The Queen was holding court. Kids were being presented to her. I asked Andre if he wanted to meet her but he was a little too shy. After a little too much teasing from me he let me know that she was “fake”! Fake, that was just madness.

Day Trip: Huntington's Renaissance Faire: The (fake) Queen Holding Court

We both enjoyed the jousting. The suites of armor were so cool and the rules of engagement were taken seriously. We both thought it would be cool to be a knight.

Day Trip: Huntington's Renaissance Faire: Jousting

We both had different favorite knights. Which one is your favorite?

Day Trip: Huntington's Renaissance Faire: Jousting

However, the best part of the day was the singing pirates. They got everyone involved, they were fun and funny. I was told their songs were very different in the evening when they sang just for the grown-ups.

Day Trip: Huntington's Renaissance Faire: Pirates Singing

They involved everyone, the adults hiding in the back, the young children and everyone in between.

Day Trip: Huntington's Renaissance Faire: A Group Sing

We were all honored with a visit by the Queen. Still, Andre would not allow himself to be presented to the “fake Queen.”

Day Trip: Huntington's Renaissance Faire: The Queen Visits the Concert

Oh, and there was just one more thing that made this Renaissance Faire unique, Hoosier Belly Dancers. I liked them because they were so comfortable and clearly having so much fun. I liked them because they were enjoying the dance and the music and not trying to just be provocative. I liked them because they brought a little something extra to the stage! Cathi noticed that I was filming Belly Dancers but focusing the camera on their faces. Andre just knew we had a geat day together.

Day Trip: Huntington's Renaissance Faire (Hoosier Belly Dancers)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Collegium 2011: Day Nine

While others were partying and saying goodbye I slept! I awoke at 3 AM and got ready for my van ride to Boston. At 4 AM I left the College of Holy Cross. From Boston I flew to Atlanta. From Atlanta I flew to Fort Wayne. There was an hour delay. The first time I went to Collegium I arrived at 3 AM. The second time it took two days to fly from Minneapolis to Fort Wayne. A one hour delay was almost the same as being on time!

The final day was a day of goodbyes, at the school and at the airports. However, everyone understood it was also a day of hellos. I was looking forward to seeing Cathi. I looked forward to a normal routine. I also looked forward to the next Collegium.

The challenge now is for Collegium Fellows to take what they learned and apply it to their classrooms, their courses and ultimately their institutions. I look forward to hearing how that progress.

Collegium 2011: Day Eight

Well, the final day of Collegium 2011 had arrived. However, that did not mean it was a day of doing nothing. We were busy! We had our second Discipline Group. I co-lead the group with Monica. She was great. The group focused on how they would apply their new knowledge to their respective schools.

Our Small Group then focused on preparing to go home. Again we focused on what the members would take home. Our group had quickly formed its own identity, there was a strong sense of “us.” While it was clear we would miss one another it was time for people to get back to their lives. Some of the members would be traveling and they were excited about that. Others would simply enjoy the remainder of summer. Either way it was time to begin our good byes.

We had our last Prayer/Spirituality group. During that time we had our sending forth ceremony. Looking at the faces of my Small Group members as I lit their candles it was hard not to chock up. They were a wonderful group of folks. Watching all of the other groups having their goodbyes and being blessed by all he participants it was clear that everyone knew they were in the best group ever. That is a perfect way to end Collegium. .

After worship we all got ready for our final social. The social was in the science building. The food was wonderful, the music set the tone and it was just a great way to begin an entire evening of saying goodbye.

Collegium 2011: the Final Social

One of the best parts of the social was simply to watch people interact with one another. It was amazing to think these folks did not know one another a week before and now they were reluctantly saying farewell to new but good friends.

Collegium 2011: Friends, Food, Drink and Jazz

After the social we had our Farewell Banquet. We began the week dining in a huge ballroom/ We ended in a more intimate space. It was a good choice. We were all closer, we all had things to say and things to hear. The food was great, the final statements moving but most of all it was the company that we savored.

Collegium 2011: The Farewell Banquet

After the banquet many participants went over to the Williams social room. There people drank, ate and talked until 3 A.M. It was a great ending to a great week and a great Collegium.

Collegium 2011: The Mentors

I was blessed to work with such a talented and committed group of fellow mentors. Some I had worked with before, two were first-timers. All were great.

Sr. Eva Hooker is an institution at Collegium. She has been there since the beginning and it shows. She is the writer-in-residence at Saint Mary’s College. She has a tool box full of techniques and ideas to engage her group members. She is mellow, supportive, fun and so, so creative.

John Neary is a professor of English at St. Norbert College. He often gives his story or testimony at Collegium. He is published. He served on Collegium’s board. However I know John as a runner and as a person who is all about helping Collegium Fellows get the most out of their Collegium experience. He is a soft spoken man who is worth listening to. He is clearly one of the gems of Collegium.

Karen Eifer teaches in he Education Department at the University of Portland. She also tells her story during Collegium This is an important activity that makes the Collgium experience come to life. Karen is a team player. She is creative, full of life and her energy is contagious.

I had the privilege of working with Eva, john and Karen in the past. They were also mentors during my fellowship year.

My roommate was “Sandy’ or William Karstens. He is an Associate Professor of Physics at Saint Michel’s College in Vermont. He is also a Collegium Board member. Sandy contributed to the music part of our worship every single day. He was at e ach social hour. I found his counselor to be valuable. The stereotype might be that physicists are aloof and not emotionally expressive, that would not fit Sandy. I felt blessed to have Sandy as a roommate.
Matt Schmalz is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the College of Holy Cross. He gave his story this year and everyone talked about how powerful it was. I had never met Matt before. He was flexile, creative and he brought a wealth of inter-faith knowledge to Collegium. I hope to get to know him better in the coming years.

Monica Sylvia was one of two first time mentors. She is an Associate Professor at Le Moyne College. She teaches developmental psychology. Initially she was anxious but quickly found her footing. I am sure her clinical skills as a group facilitator kicked right in. She was always doing something. If she was not focusing on her mentor responsibilities she was helping Joyce or attending to a group member.
Finally there was Nancy Billias who is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Saint Joseph College in Connecticut. Nancy also studied religious studies and was a Fulbright Scholar. She is a licensed psychotherapist and brings a whole palette of skills and experiences to her groups.

Monica and Nancy might have been the new kids on the block but they were major contributors to a great Collegium. So that was the group I worked with. We had a working breakfast meeting every day. We brainstormed together. We supported one another. While our focus was on our own Small Groups we also found time to enjoy each others company. I t was a really good group of mentors.

Collegium 2011: What Made My Group So Special?

I made the claim all mentors should make, that their Small Group was the best. I hope all the other mentors feel that, I also know my group was special.
Jonathan was this very bright Ph.D. candidate in history from Fordham University.He was bright, funny and caring. Life is not fair, he was also tall, in shape, handsome and had great glasses. Still, while he could have been arrogant he was humble and a team player. He was also incredibly easy to like.

Skylar was a Political Science doctoral candidate from the University of California Santa Barbara. He was a serious pianist in high school and he skied competitively. He had an incredible ability to appreciate multiple sides of an argument without being immobilized by the divergent arguments. Our Small Group was successful in convincing Skylar to play a small concert for Collegium prior to worship. The video I have is of Skylar practicing for his concert. His concert was wonderful, his practice is just getting use to the piano.

Collegium 2011: Skylar Practicing for Concert

Ricardo brought a sociologists appreciation of group processes to our Small Group. He had also lived in Central America and had an appreciation for the need for social justice. He also was able to apply our lecture on Catholic Social Justice to his school. Plus he lived in New York which just made me jealous. I suppose there were moments when he was not smiling but I never witnessed those times.

Cara was the enthusiastic English professor. She was also a self-identified secular Jew. It was great to see Catholic Intellectuals Identity though her eyes. She savored everything Collegium had to offer and like Ricardo she could not stop smiling.

Mark was our resident physic and the scientific method was a corner stone of how he made sense of the universe. He was also a self-described “Protestant Atheist.” Mark questioned our readings, the lectures, the movies. He questioned things enthusiastically. He also respected others and he was just fun to be around. One of the strengths of our group was due to the honest challenging that Mark provided.

Collegium 2011: Skylar Practicing for Concert II

Judith was this wonderful art historian. Now I have a bias, I have never met an art historian who is not brilliant, after working with Judith I can state that is still true. Judith savored life and was able to put ideas and reading into an historical context. She was also deeply moved by the sufferings of others. She made sure our intellectual explorations did not ignore the impact teachings have on real people. She also had a contagious smile.

Ray was our theologian. I was at first threatened by that when I read the bios. I suspect I feared looking under-qualified to lead the group next to someone with his qualifications. Boy that was a waste of time! Ray had to be the easiest person to get along with I had met. He was caring, funny and practical. He made theology and our readings come alive. He was able to describe how our readings were lived in his classes. Ray is the kind of guy I would like to spend time with talking about theology over a couple of beers.

Collegium 2011: Skylar Practicing in the Fog

Sonalini was our multi-talented professor. She taught women’s studies and political science. She was a Hindu teaching at a Catholic university. I loved how open she was to the entire experience. She was able to find areas of commonality. She was able to better understand where her students and colleagues were coming from. I appreciated how seriously she took the assignments of the Small Group. Best of all she was simply good company. She is now a fellow Hoosier and Judith is a neighbor in Dayton Ohio. I hope I get to see both of them in the future.

That was my group. It was a group of very diverse people. It was a supportive group, a happy group and a group that took advantage of all hat Collegium had to offer. Yeah, I had the best group!

Collegium 2011: Prayer and Spirituality

We had daily worship and that was an important part of Collegium. However, we also had daily Prayer and Spirituality gatherings. They were led by Marty Kelly. Marty is the Assistant Chaplain and Director of the Immersion Programs of the College of the Holy Cross. The other leader was his very capable wife Megan Fox-Kelly. Megan is an Assistant Chaplain and Director of the retreat program of Holy Cross College. This was an experienced, high powered and nurturing duo. I am always happy to be in their company and I always know which one I like best. It is the one I am speaking to at the moment! They would introduce a different type of prayer or theological reflection to the participants. There would be a brief description, a hand out and then time for people to individually reflect or meditate. It was not unusual for participants to go outside or to other parts of the chapel for prayer and meditation.

The music was an important part of Collegium. The music reflected the Universal Church and was from around the world. I never videoed the services or spirituality classes, that would have felt intrusive. The videos I have here are simply downloaded from YouTube and are samplings of the songs we sang.

Jesus We Are Here - Valley Steel Drum Ensemble

The first night we gathered. This was the first time the participants entered the lower chapel, the Chapel of St. Mary. The place was quiet and beautiful. As we processed in I had the privilege of carrying in the Paschal Candle which was used to light the participants individual candles. The evening prayers set the tone for the week. We were told the chapel would be a place of silence except for the services. The chapel became a powerful place of refuge and retreat for many throughout the week.

We Are Marching In The Light Of God

As the week progressed we were introduced to a variety of prayer techniques and foci. This included “Remembrance and Spirituality.” This was a topic that fit in well with a week that would be lived sacramentally.

Open My Eyes, Lord - Preparation Hymn - 4/3/11

We were introduced to Christian Meditation or Contemplative Prayer. It is very different to change the focus of prayer from one of asking to one of listening. It is especially helpful in developing a pilgrim identity, of knowing we are only temporarily of this world. It is particularly powerful in learning to be humble. Perhaps most importantly, for a group of type A, task-driven folks it was important to simply stop, to pause and spend time with God.

Lord of All Hopefulness.MP4

We were introduced to Lectio Divina and formal forms of reflection. All of this prepared us for our Day of Retreat. All of this assisted us in our private journeys.
Finally, our last prayer service was one of sending forth. Each group came to the front of the chapel. The mentor spoke some private words to his or her group and then he or she lit the groups individual candles. The group would then face the participants who would raise their arms and bless the group. It was simple and powerful. Marty and Megan, you are a blessing!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Collegium 2011: Day Seven, Boston

The week at Collegium was coming to an end. It could have been depressing having something that was so stimulating and so joyful coming to an end. However, it was not. This was the day that ended after the afternoon Small Group. After that we got to play in Boston. Some folks planned on going to the Pops, others to see Blue Men. Me, I planned on walking around discovering the city. There was no time to be depressed. However, first there was work to do.

After Morning Prayer and the Prayer/Spirituality class we had a major presentation. Christine Firer-Hinze from Fordham University spoke on Catholic Social Thought. She gave a history of Catholic Social Justice. Issues of aligning with workers, caring for the poor, being in many ways counter-cultural permeated her talk. When we met in our Small Group the members were able to readily apply the talk to their universities and to their careers. They were also surprised and encouraged to find a history of social involvement that reflected many of their values. At the end of the day I was reminded of the lecture in a surprising way.

Unfortunately the weather was not exactly perfect for being a tourist. It rained on and off during the day and promised to rain more in the evening. Still, it was 4 PM and time to drive in to Boston. I had the bus drop me off where the folks going to the Pops stopped. As I descended the steps I saw a wonderful church. Turns out it was the Christian Science Cathedral. In front of it was a reflecting pond. Behind it was downtown Boston. Even in the drizzling rain I was happy to have this be my first contact with Boston.

Collegium 2011" Boston: Christian Science Cathedral

After viewing the church I walked over to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It was incredible. There were floors of Egyptian, Roman and Greek art. There was sculpture, glass, impressionists painting. It was wonderful. However, I only had six hours to see Boston so it was back out into the rain.

Luckily as I was walking past the Christian Science Cathedral I noticed it was open. I went inside and explored. I always associated Christian Scientists with reading rooms. This was incredible. I felt like I was in Europe.

Collegium 2011: Inside the Christian Science Cathedral

After my tour it was time to see more of Boston. I wanted to walk some of the Freedom Trail. As I walked toward it I came to the Boston Public Library. It was raining hard so I went inside to dry off. I was stopped in my tracks by how beautiful the entry way was. It reminded me of the Chicago Cultural Center.

Collegium 2011: the Boston Public Library

As I walked around the library I was amazed at the size of the library. I was impressed with the collections. It was impressed with how friendly the staff was. If I had the time I would have spent the day there. The library also hosted social events. I don’t know what was going on but was there were folks in formal dress sipping wine and listening to chamber music. What a great place.

Collegium 2011: Inside the Boston Public Library

And then I bumped into the courtyard. What a wonderful surprise!

Collegium 2011: The Courtyard of the Boston Public Library

After the library I began what proved to be a long walk, I walked to Boston Commons. There I came up to a church that reminded me my Unitarian-Universalist roots. The church was beautiful. However, the church was closed, it was raining and I had more walking to do.

Collegium 2011: Boston: Arlington Street Church UUC

I walked through Boston Commons. I stopped for some pizza. By then every part of me was wet. My jacket must have weighed 15 pounds. After dinner I began my trek on the Boston Freedom Trail. By the time I was done I had seen the State Capitol, the Old State Capitol, the first public school, King’s Chapel and the site where the Boston Tea Party was planned.
When I came up to the State Capitol I was reminded in a very real way of our earlier lecture on Social Justice. It was raining out and young adults were camping outside. They were holding vigil to protest harsh immigration laws that wee being voted on in the Capital. I was feeling a little sorry for myself walking in the rain and these folks were sleeping in it to help others. I was humbled and encouraged.

Collegium 2011: Boston: State Capital and Social Justice

So that was my day. We learned about social justice in the morning, talked about it in the afternoon and then I saw it in action that evening. I also got a hint of Boston and I know I have to come back for an extended visit.

Collegium 2011: My Small Group

Each day the mentors met with their Small Groups. Each group was picked by Tom and Joyce. They reflected diversity in disciplines, schools, religious identity. The groups usually met twice a day. During that time we would process the readings of the day or a movie or lecture. The goal was to help us understand and appreciate the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and identity. That meant understanding that at Catholic universities faith and reason went together. It meant understanding various views and positions were important. Additionally, to understand identity you need to have points of comparisons. Having groups that were not exclusively Catholic was very important. It also meant not avoiding issues related to Catholicism that were painful.

Each Small Group was named after an important Catholic intellectual. Our group was the Orestes Brownson group. Brownson was a New Englander who started as a liberal minister. He had various Protestant denominational affiliations including Unitarian and Universalist. He published numerous magazines and was a prominent Transcendentalists. He converted to Catholicism and fluctuated in his social and political view. What was important for us was that he was a person whose identify was always in formation.

Our group was also one of identify formation. We had members from different faith traditions, we had an atheist, we had two graduate students and we had enthusiasm.

Collegium 2011: The Best Small Group

We met in Fenwick Hall. Our room looked out over the cemetery which was actually a pleasant view. Our members were diverse but united in wanting to make the week a time of free, honest, and respectful sharing of ideas and values. They were very successful.

Collegium 2011: The View from My Classroom Window

Ricardo Dello Buono was an Associate Professor of Sociology at Manhattan College. He had lived in Central America. Cara Erdheim was a Professor of English at Sacred Heart University. Mark Fisher was a Physic Professor at the College of Mount Saint Joseph. Judith Huacuja was an Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Dayton. Raymond Patterson was an Assocaite Professor of Religious Studies at Saint Michael’s College. Sonalina Sapra was an Associate Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies at Saint Mary’s College. Jonathan Pettinato was a Ph.D Candidate and graduate fellow from Fordham University. Skylar Covich was also a graduate fellow and a Political Science doctoral candidate from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

This was a high powered group. They studied at important schools and taught at important schools. They came from not only different parts of the nation but from different countries. They also immersed themselves in the work of Collegium. That meant reading Vatican II documents, articles on Catholic education and history and processing lectures. However, what I liked most was their sense of fun and their willingness to dive into the work at hand.

Collegium 2011: The Best Small Group Ever in the History of the Universe (this year)

Collegium 2011: Day Six

Tuesday was our Retreat Day. That meant the mentors had the day off. Most of them used the time to participate in one of the formal retreats or to create their own retreat. Catholicism is a pilgrim faith and the mentors knew how to be pilgrims and how to savor the journey. I was leading a retreat for the first time. Luckily I was feeling a little under the weather and tired and didn’t have the energy to be anxious!

The participants had many choices. Fr. Palmigiano led a Cistercian retreat, Dennis McAuliffe lead a retreat on Christian Meditation. I participated in his retreat in Oregon and found it simple, instructive and most of all powerful. Marty Kelly led the Ignatian retreat. I lead the Franciscan retreat.

After breakfast we started the day off with Morning Prayer. I did a Franciscan reading and I was moved by the reading. It was the same reading I had heard Father Andre give at St. Bonaventure’s home church in Italy. After the service we broke into our groups to begin a day of retreat.

I had a small group which was great for an initial retreat. We started with some history. I wanted them to understand how the persons of Francis and Clare influence Franciscan Spirituality today. So that meant having a discussion on living a Gospel Life and being willing to be a Fool for God. It included caring for the lepers of today. It included understanding what it meant to participate in peacemaking, not peace hoping. It also included learning the dance of Franciscanism, of being in the world but also of removing yourself to have time with God. That included an appreciation for the holiness of place starting with Assisi but encompassing the world.

Prayer of St. Francis,(Make Me A Channel of Your Peace) sung by Angelina, EWTN

Just as one of Brother Francis’ conversions was to embrace the leper we meditated on who our lepers were today. We identified the leper and in our meditations we embraced our leper. If we could not embrace the leper we explored what inside of us prevented us from embracing him or her. This we did in our small group in our classroom. It was the beginning of moving back and forth from the world to God and back again.

This was a retreat day, and not a class on Franciscan Spirituality. So the day included meditations, group time, and time alone. The retreat took place in our assigned room but also included using the chapel and the campus.

As we began our journey outside of the classroom we met at the Baptismal Font in St. Mary’s Chapel. There we blessed each others journeys.

Collegium 2011: St. Mary's Chapel, the Prayer Room

Using the skills we learned from Pelikan and having just learned about the connection of the Stations of the Cross and Franciscanism we then moved to the Stations in the chapel. The participants were asked to think about having a live Stations of the Cross performed in their community. In front of the Stations in St. Mary’s Chapel the members individually meditated on what parts of their communities most needed to have Christ’s presence known to them. They were asked to consider what that would look like, what difference would it make, what they could do to make it happen.

It was a good morning and it was time for lunch.

After lunch we did a theological reflection similar to lectio divina created by St. Clare. Finally they were asked to go out by themselves, in a spirit of gratitude to a generous Creator and sacramentally experience the campus. It was a day of peace, of learning, of doing and of connecting. I had never been a Retreat Director before and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it and by how much I got out of it.

Collegium 2011: Brother Rabbit's Sanctuary

Finally, we all participated in a casual dinner. We had a picnic out of doors. Again, it was good food and a beautiful setting that was secondary to wonderful company. After dinner some participants went to a baseball game. Others gathered for a social and yet others participated in a “Poetry Smorgasbord.” It was a wonderful day of putting our work and studies into action.

Collegium 2011: The Picnic

Collegium 2011: Day Five

Day five was a day of varied activities. Right after the working breakfast meeting there was Morning Prayer and then the Disciplinary Groups. I skipped out on both. My second day at Collegium Joyce approached me and asked if I would be willing to direct a Franciscan Retreat on Retreat Day. After thinking about it I said yes. Well Retreat Day was less than 24 hours away and I used that time to prepare my retreat.

The next group meeting in the morning was modified groups that talked about “A World in Need of Redemption.” It was really the other end of the continuum of sacramental living. It addressed the role of evil in the world. I was impressed with how our group started talking about their responsibilities as professors. They focused on what they could do in their little corner of the world to make a difference. They were great.

In the afternoon we addressed the Pelikan book; Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture. We talked about how Jesus was depicted in art through the centuries. The campus was a good place to have this discussion. The statue of Christ the King, the statue of the Hand of Jesus, the Stations of the Cross, and other religious art set people in a reflective mood. One of our members talked about religious music that inspired hm. He also spoke of touching the art of Rome and seeing the art with his hands. The discussion helped members realize which images of Jesus were most powerful for them, which images were called up at different times. In our group it was interesting to hear about the images that were called up by members who were not Christian.

Face of Jesus

The Prayer/Spirituality group then focused on “Where Do We Need Healing? Where Does the World Need Healing?” The service tied the first discussion on redemption to our depictions of Jesus as the source of healing. Afterward we celebrated Mass. We then had dinner at Kimball Hall. Afterward many went to a social hour. It was a very good day.

Collegium 2011: The Kimball Dinning Hall

Friday, July 15, 2011

Collegium 2011: The Holiness of Space and Place

One of the things that makes Collegium so special is all of the people. Another thing that makes Collegium so special is the ability to get away from them! There is always time to be alone with your thoughts, with the quiet, with God. What is even better is the spaces and places are all so beautiful.

Next to the Chapel is a small cemetery for the Jesuits. Bishop Fenwick, the founder of the school is buried there. The cemetery has places to pause and pray. There are often birds, chipmunks and rabbits who visit the site. It is simply one of many peaceful areas to visit on campus.

Collegium 2011: Cemetery of the College of the Holy Cross

The second level of the cemetery has a wonderful statue of Mary. It is good to see the Patron Saint of North America have such a prominent place on campus.

Collegium 2011: Mary Giving Comfort

I would get up early and walk around campus before breakfast. I was never alone, There was always other participants, many whom ran while they took in the sites and quiet of the campus.

Collegium 2011: A Walk Around Campus Before Breakfast

The walk up to the library was always nice. There were statues, gates, flowers. However, what was truly special was the statue of a large hand at the top of the stairs going to the library. I did not initially realize I was looking at the hand of Jesus. It stopped you in your steps.

Collegium 2011: Encountering the Hand of Jesus

After walking to the top of the campus I would make my way down. As I passed Fenwick Hall and got closer to the Dining Hall I also entered an area of flowers, blossoms and the statue of Christ the King. I loved my solitary walks on the campus of The College of the Holy Cross.

Collegium 2011: Blossoms and Christ the King at Holy Cross

Collegium 2011: Day Four

Our fourth day or the third day for the participants was one of my favorites. The focus was on living sacramentally. That meant allowing all that is, all that is taken in by our senses to speak to us. It means being reminded of the awesome generosity of the Creator. It meant listening, seeing, really seeing, touching and being touched by the world we live in.

My early morning walks, my time with the trees, the flowers, the birds and the rabbits was part of living sacramentally. I watched the participants and it seemed to me there were simply two types of participants; those who were intentionally living sacramentally and those who lived sacramentally during Collegium but were not aware of it. Now to make sure I am being sensitive to the Protestant participants and the non-Christian participants, I am not talking about the seven Sacraments of the Catholic church. I am talking about allowing the world to remind us of the miracles of the world, of life. I am talking about becoming aware of that which we had taken for granted.

So after breakfast we all gathered for Common Prayer. This was very special. We read the wisdom of numerous Christian leaders from various denominations. However, we also read the teachings of other faiths. Remembering a devout Muslim student who attended USF I felt privileged to honor her by reading from the Koran. It was a great way to begin the day.

After the service we had a break and spent time with one another outdoors. Then we proceeded to the Fenwick Theater to watch Babette’s Feast. I love this film. It touches me as a Catholic and as a Scandinavian-America.

Collegium 2011: Getting Ready for Babette's Feast

After the movie we had our own feast. In the courtyard among the flowers, the fountain and the distinct buildings we had a Champagne brunch. We discussed the film, the campus,and Collegium. Most of all we laughed and enjoyed each others company.

Collegium 2011: Our Feast

It was a lazy lunch. Afterward people walked, did some readings or spent time in Chapel. It was a great way to take in the teachings of the movie.

Collegium 2011: Our Feast II

After lunch we all went to combined groups to watch Michael Hines talk about “Finding God in All Things: A Sacramental World View.” It was a bookend performance of sacramental living.

The day continued with processing in the small groups. There was more prayer services. There was dinner at the Kimball Dining Hall. What made this day additionally special was the presentations by mentors Mat Schmatz and Karen Eifier. These were the presentations that made the Collegium journey real. These were the Catholic equivalent of testimonies. Participants left moved by what they heard.
Then, to top off a wonderful day many gathered for another evening social of drinks, company and laughs. It was a good day.

Collegium 2011: Day Three

Day three was the beginning of our regular work schedule. Not that anything was regular. There was always something different and unique added to the schedule each day. However, this was the beginning of the mentors earning their keep! We were happy to begin the work of Collegium.

As usual we began with our planning or working breakfast. I liked this because I would get up early and walk the campus. By the time the meeting started I was ready to begin focusing on Catholic Intellectual identity. I was ready to work with my colleagues and to help my Small Group form its own identity. I also loved the breakfast meetings because we got to interact with the kitchen staff. They were the friendliest group of people around. I know we Midwesterners think we are the friendly Americans, well, we got company!

We had two small group meetings. The first was for us to get to know one another and to talk about the upcoming week. I really liked my group. It was academically diverse, religiously diverse and in so many other ways diverse. We did not just have Catholics of differing experiences and questions. We had Protestants, an atheists, a self described Secular Jew and a Hindu. The group differed in disciplines, age, abilities. Two were graduate students. They all brought so much to the group.

The second small group meeting of the day was actually to get to work. That work was in part a response to the talk Tom gave. Tom spoke in the Rehm Library, a small but elegant library in Fenwick. Fenwick was named after the bishop who founded the school. Tom spoke on “What if Our Work Mattered? Thinking About the Intellectual Vocation Today.” The talk grabbed people’s attention. When we returned to our small group rooms people immediately got to work.

Collegium 2011: Tom Landy at the Rehm Library

We then went to the St. Mary’s Chapel for prayer and spiritual training. St. Mary’s chapel is the lower church. Above is the more formal St. Joseph Chapel. Both were beautiful but also very different from one another. Prayer and worship would occur daily. Each day we would be introduced to a new form of prayer/reflection/meditation. Our spiritual directors were old (but young) friends, Marty Kelly and Megan Fox-Kelly. I first met them in Portland. They bring a quiet, comforting touch to Collegium while introducing folks to new ways of faithing. I am always happy to spend time with them.

St. Joseph Chapel, College of the Holy Cross

After our spiritual direction we all celebrated the Eucharist. The setting was lovely, the company was great and the sense of being connected to other Collegium fellows, to other faculty members of Catholic Universities and of being part of the Body of Christ was powerful.

Collegium 2011: Inside St. Mary's Chapel

Afterward we all had dinner together. Later in the evening many participated in the social hour. It was simply a time to enjoy each others company and that was so easy to do.

Collegium 2011: An After Hours Social

Collegium 2011: Day Two

After all of the traveling the previous day the second day was actually a fairly light work day, for mentors. We all met for the first of many working breakfast meetings. We got to know each others working styles and the expectations of the week. There was a nice blend of new mentors and experienced mentors. We would be facilitating discussions in our small groups. The discussions would be in response to our readings and to lectures.

The meeting was extended. We reviewed the week’s schedule of events, special concerns or needs and resources. I am always impressed with the organizational skills Tom and Joyce bring to the table. They always make us look good.

After the meeting we had free time. Now it was not free time for Joyce or for the school. Participants were beginning to arrive., However, the mentors had the afternoon off. I would have liked to go into the city. Worcester is the second largest city in New England. It has 10 colleges, many museums, great restaurants. I was interested in seeing hte museum of armor, I like knights. This museum is the best collection of knights armor in North America. It is a center of New England architecture. The buildings are beautiful. It was here that the Declaration of Independence was s first read aloud to the public. However, I was tired and decided to just walk around campus and get the lay of the land.

The campus is hilly and at times steep. That also means the vistas are breathtaking. I kept looking down at downtown Worcester.

Downtown Worcester from the hills of the College of Holy Cross

As I walked around campus I noticed a lot of activity at the bottom of the hill. I went down to an area just outside of the campus. In this valley were tents, a stage, banners and lots of activity. It turned out this was the weekend for Worcester’s Relay for Life. I spoke to a young woman who spoke of her commitment to her family and how this event helped her deal with a family history of cancer. I decided I would have to visit the Relay for Life in the evening when it was active.

Collegium 2011: Relay for Life Preparation

I was also getting excited. I walked into the ballroom before it was set up for the evening’s his was where we would meet the new participants and where we would have our opening banquet. From here you could look out eh window toward the city and see part of the campus. This was going to be a great setting to explore Catholic intellectual identity and to make new friends.

The College of the Holy Cross from the Ballroom Window II

That evening we had our first social hour. It was great to identify the members of my small group. They were full of energy and I knew I was blessed with a great group The banquet was wonderful. The food, wine and camaraderie made for a great opening night.

When I finally got back to the dorms I remembered I had planned on checking out the Relay for life. I could see the valley from my window. It was illuminated by lights and the sound of music permeated the evening air. So I walked down the hill o see how Worcester put on a Relay. Well, they do it with gusto!

The place was loud and crowded. People were happy even though they were all united in dealing with a serious issue. I arrived to see a bunch of young men dressed in drag. This was the “Miss Relay for Life Competition.’ The guy who got the most money ‘donated” to his/her waist band would be declared “Miss Relay for Life 2010. It was just campy fun and a way to raise money for cancer research. These guys in drag looked very different fro the guys I met during my sabbatical!

Collegium 2011: Miss Relay for Life

So I had a full day. We planned. I explored. We greeted the participants and I got to enjoy some of the Relay for Life. It was a good beginning.

Collegium 2011: Miss Relay for Life Competition

It was also good to see the folks from the city just letting their hair down and being silly for a good cause.

Collegium 2011: Miss Relay for Life Awaits a Winner

Collegium 2011: Day One

I had an opportunity to serve as a mentor at Collegium this summer. I first went to Collegium four years ago at the University of Portland. I loved the campus, the city and the Pacific Northwest. That is also where I fell in love with Collegium.

Collegium brings together instructors from 85 Catholic colleges and universities and during a period of a week explores Catholic Intellectual identity. It is a week of reading, studying, sharing, praying, worshiping, eating great food and playing. A friend of mine and a Collegium fellow said Collegium is where smart people get together to discuss interesting things. Yep, that is it.

I first served as a mentor two years ago at St. John’s University in Minnesota. I loved the lakes, the wildlife, and the monastery but again, it was the program that spoke to me in a deep way. I was invited to be a mentor last year but I had to decline. Our school was hosting the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities 2010 Symposium. I had helped plan the symposium and it was important that I stay on campus at the University of Saint Francis and help the rest of the leadership team. Besides, I would not have missed the symposium for the world. It was great to spend time with Franciscans from around the country and it was wonderful to show off our beautiful campus.

So this summer I again had the privilege of serving as a mentor. This time it was at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester Massachusetts. This was the final Collegium school that hosts the event. It is also the headquarters for Collegium. I had never been to Massachusetts before and was excited about Collegium, the school and the area.

I was immediately lucky. I had a lay over at the Detroit International Airport. While there I bumped into John Neary. He is a fellow mentor and is a Professor of English at St. Norbert College in De Pere Wisconsin. He is a great guy and it made the travel time go by quickly.

I actually like traveling, even the sitting around part. So I love the Detroit Airport. I loved the airport tunnel which is awesome and I loved the monorail. I loved flying over Boston Harbor. I was excited to be in Boston just after they won the Stanly cup. Driving through Boston, seeing the downtown, Boston College thinking about Harvard, it all let me know I was in a different part of the country and I liked it.

Detroit Airport Tunnel

Mentors arrive a day prior to the Collegium. That gives us time for planning, introductions and to get settled. I needed that time to settle in. My first day was traveling from Fort Wayne to Boston, then taking a shuttle to Worcester for dinner and then arriving at the campus around nine in the evening. However, Tom Landy, the director of Collegium and Joyce Gawlick, the assistant director know how to make people feel welcomed and ready to work. We all arrived at The Citizens Kitchen and the People’s Wine Bar in downtown Worcester. This is a restored firehouse in the middle of the downtown. The food was great, we had a relaxed setting to get to know our fellow mentors and we had some laughs before a week of intense work.

After dinner we drove to the college. We were staying at the Williams apartments. It was a great residential setting looking down at the city and for the next nine days it would be home.

Collegium 2011: Our "Home"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Michael Dickman's " Birds and Scarves" at the Peace Frog Coffeehouse

Michael Dickman is an Art Education major. He is also always doing something. He is involved in service projects. He attends school and community activities whenever he can. He produces art, boy does he do that. I saw an exhibit he had at the library on 50 portraits. I filmed a flash mob he coordinated at an art opening. The participants all wore masks. While he was working on a service project for Emmaus Ministries he designed their facebook cards. Well, he has been a it again.

Because of Mike’s creativity I had the pleasure of attending a n art opening titled “Birds and Scarves’ at a new coffeehouse in town. The show is at the Peace Frog Coffeehouse. The place is not far from the university. The atmosphere is early 60s. The people are friendly and everyone liked what they ordered. The Peace Frog has live concerts and late hours. I think it is my new favorite hangout.

Mike’s art fit in with the décor. It elicited some strong emotional reactions. This was true for “Lover”, “Divorce” and “Death of a Homeless.” This was a great way to spend an afternoon. Thanks Mike, so, what is next for you?

Michael Dickman's "Birds and Scarves" at the Peace Frog Coffeehouse

ICAP 2011: "Estelle, I'm a Testimony"

So some how I did not post the video of Major Estelle Blake singing “I’m a Testimony.” I loved it, it was so simple and humble and from an earlier time. I loved it because Estelle sang it. Estelle is the Salvation Army officer from London. She is full of life and dedicated to a life of service. There is nothing arrogant or judgmental about here. She just loves, laughs and serves everyone and anybody. How did I forget to post this?

CAP 2011: Estelle, "I'm a Testimony"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A One-day Outing to Mexico with Whitney!

As I had posted at the beginning of my ICAP 2011 journey, I spent a day in Chicago before heading to the conference. During that time Whitney Merrell and I got to go on a little outing to the Pilsen neighborhood and Little Village, two very distinct Mexican areas of the city. I was looking forward to this outing with my former Kaio Community member. On my last visit I went to an Ethiopian restaurant with Bethany Wilson, I worked outreach with Emily Manting and I attended Joshua Kent’s art opening. Nik Burkhart is always busy and our schedules just did not mesh. So, I still owed Whit some time together. Whit had lived in Mexico for two years so I wanted to share this part of the city with her.

As I stated earlier, it was a great day. There were giant murals, ethnic churches, and great food. Best of all, their was excellent company. So, the following is simply some of the video that was upload from the museum and the streets of Little Village.

National Museum of Mexican Art: Galleries of the Past

We were able to take pictures and video in the permanent collections at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

National Museum of Mexican Art: Now that is a mural!

National Museum of Mexican Art: The Nativity

Nothing like Christmas in the springtime and nothing like a regional interpretation of the holiday!

National Museum of Mexican Art: Now That is Catholic Art!

After a great morning in the yuppie/Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen we headed over to Little Village. There we had some good food and did some window shopping. Whitney assured me it was like being back in Mexico. To make a good day perfect we ran into an outdoor band. Ah, the sight, smells, tastes and now sounds of Mexico. I love Chicago!

Walking the Streets of Little Village

Thursday, June 9, 2011

ICAP 2011: Shannon Taylor and Nepal

We included a number of guest in our van for our ride back to Chicago. One of them was Shannon Taylor. Shannon works in Nepal. I can think of no more exotic place so far removed from the corn and soybean fields of Indiana than Nepal. My dream would be for Cathi and I to visit Shannon and provide some training for their workers. In the mean time she was nice enough to tell us about her missions. Yep, it was a great week!

ICAP 2011: Shannon Taylor and Nepal

ICAP 2011: Endings, Launching,and Beginnings

Well, after many workshops, time spent with new and old friends, prayer and worship and lots of food, it was finally time to begin to say good bye to the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution 2011 global conference. After a great meal we all gathered one last time in the Pillsbury Rooms for worship and praise. The music was lividly. Hornrette and Sven got us into the mood with “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus.”

ICAP 2011: "Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus"

After a number of songs we are all pulled together in a united song of praise. Representatives from each country or language group sings “Good Is So Good”. As the nations rolls out the impact of working, playing and praising with people form 40 different nations begins to hit. This was a great time togheter and now we need to support one another as we good off to our home countries or missions. Yep, God is So Good!

ICAP 2011: And the Whole World Sings

ICAP 2011: Prophetic Dance of the Nations or Spanish Translated to English for a Russian!

Prophetic Dance was not something just for workshops, it was to fortify us as we go our separate ways in the knowledge we are all truly united in One Body. However, the introduction of the dance again reminded us of the challenges of the week. We had translators in every workshop, whey should tonight be any different! Spanish directions translated into English so the Russian translator can than translate them to the languages of Central Asia. I love this group of people!

ICAP 2011: Joyfully Ending a Great Conference

And so there were long, prolonged goodbyes and there were brief farewells mixed with joy and sadness. While many people prayed for the world, they prayed for the 2012 Olympics that it not be a center of prostitution, they prayed for the women and the people working missions in Central Asia, they prayed for their homelands, I was perhaps most moved by Toss. I love her simple faith, her willingness to be vulnerable and her willingness to share her journey in this work. I love her leadership. It was a chaotic,, joyful dance unto the Lord,. It was a joyful goodbye. I hope to return in three years to hear how missions have grown and how people’s lives have been transformed.

ICAP 2011: Trusting that the Victory is Already Assured

ICAP 2011: Beauty, Art and Worship

My Franciscan roots run deep. I appreciate the ICAP Leadership Team providing special places for prayer and contemplation. I also appreciate the other effort they made that is important to Franciscans, they cared about beauty. For Franciscans beauty is all around us, we only have to open our eyes, our ears, pay attention to what we smell, feel and taste. Brother Francis instructed people to make sure they planted some flowers in their vegetable gardens simply to be able to pause and appreciate them. Beauty reminds us of how generous our Creator has been. The grounds of Green Lake Conference Center were full of natural beauty and the buildings proclaimed the beauty of simple, clean design and architecture. Well another way beauty becomes part of our consciousness is through the Arts. The ICAP Leadership Team made sure that the Arts were part of the global conference experience.

Now to be sure the sharing of music from around the world was part of the arts. The proud wearing of native dress also added to this. However, there was a more conventional addition, dance and visual arts.

Mariliana Morales, the Latin American Team Leader also provided a workshop on prophetic Dance. Now it would appear to me that the process is more important than the dance, the dance is simply the medium of communication. However, it is dance and involves the telling, if not of a story than at least a feeling, that is set to music and involves the full body as the avenue of communication. Mariliana danced for us at the conference, she led a workshop on Prophetic Dance and she then involved the entire conference is dance.

ICAP 2011: Prophetic Dance

Next to one of the prayer rooms was an art gallery. The paintings were powerful. The artist, Diane Graham had a very special exhibit, "Every Man's Daughter." The exhibit was sponsored by WE International. Nobody talked in the room except in short, muted whispers. The paintings were of girls and women of various ages from different nations. They shared a common sisterhood of bondage and trafficking. It was a sad room and yet it touched you. Part of art is to communicate, to touch and to change. It is difficult to look at this exhibit and not feel called to action. There are more people sold into modern day slavery than in the 1800s. The sex trade robs people not only of their innocence but of their sense of self, of their own power and of being able to see beauty in the world.

ICAP 2011: "Every Man's Daughter" A Powerful Exhibit

This gallery was not a quiet refuge from a busy conference. It was a stark reminder of why we must act. It was a reminder of why we must act today, tomorrow and the next day. It was a reminder that human trafficking is a global problem and a local reality. This gallery was a call to action.

Finally, we had a week of music that lifted us up, that connected us to one another and helped us move from one part of the world to the next. That music was provided by our Swedish drummer Sven-Gunnar Liden and by the master of music herself, Hornrette Washington. She was dynamic, inspiring and she was a blessing. Now that is the power of art.