Tag Archives: school

Summer Camp Revisited

lawcampWhen I was in middle school and high school, my mother encouraged me to apply to attend summer programs for kids like me, or, as I liked to call it, summer camp for nerds.  Generally held on college campuses, these were residential weeks on a college campus with other kids with similar interests.

These talented and gifted summer programs were organized by the State of Maryland Department of Education, and apparently they still happen.  One year I attend history camp in at St. Mary’s University in Southern, Maryland, where we participated in an archaeological dig.  The next year I attended a creative writing camp at Washington College on the Eastern Shore. And another year I attended a public service camp at the University of Maryland.

Flash forward 30 some years. I am back on a college campus this week with folks with similar interests, learning about interesting and important things.  Only this time, I’m here with a bunch of other elected leaders of religious congregations learning about aspects of civil and canon law which are particularly relevant to our ministry of leadership.

Officially, it’s the Institute of Law and Religious Life, but some of us have taken to calling it “Law Camp.”  And that makes my inner nerd very happy.


2014-11-01 13.03.00If I had to sum up my experience and call of the spiritual life in one word, I think it would be “openness.” Part of my story is that I spent about 10 years as a young adult away from the Church, and really away from any intentional relationship with God. Funny, I know, especially given that I’ve spent mostof the last 10 years as a Catholic Sister.

The challenge, and ultimately the blessing, of my own spiritual journey has been to break through the self-imposed barriers that kept me from God’s love. It’s hard to explain, but my own growth in humility and love has been to open myself more deeply to God’s love for me, as me, in all my brokenness and beauty. Somehow, it’s easier for me to experience God’s love for others, especially people in need in our wounded and broken world. But me? That’s been a constant invitation to growth, life, and love which has led me in surprising directions well beyond the boundaries and limitations I placed on myself. In the end, it was my response to that invitation that led me to community and life as a Catholic Sister.

In my religious community we have a tradition where you can choose to have a personal motto engraved in your vows ring. When I was discerning to profess my vows as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, the phrase that kept coming to me in prayer was “Live with an open heart.” So that’s what is engraved inside my ring. That’s what I wear each and every day, part of my reminder of my commitment to act justly, love tenderly, and walk in the way of peace.

I found myself reflecting on this call, invitation, and response today as I was revisiting the renewal of virtue ethics in Catholic moral theology as part of my preparation for comprehensive exams later this month. I’m working through texts I’ve already read, but this passage by theologian Charles Curran on the particular Christian virtue of openness caused me to pause in my studies (and write this blog post!).

“Openness is a virtue that many Americans today gladly accept. We talk about the importance of being open and the dangers of being closed. However, being open is much more challenging in reality than it seems. Being open to God (and others) stands in opposition to self-centeredness and self-sufficiency. The person who is closed in on oneself can never hear the promptings of the Spirit. … The Christian has to be open to hear the call of God and seize the opportunity in the midst of all the daily duties, obligations, and distractions of our lives. True openness thus calls for a contemplative aspect to our being that allows us to truly discern the call of God amidst the din and cacophony of the many voices we hear. God comes to us not only in the depths of our hearts but also in the circumstances of our daily lives especially in the needs of others. The spiritual tradition often recommends time for contemplation and retreat precisely so that one can truly be more disposed to hearing the call of God in daily life and acting upon it.” – Charles E. Curran, “Virtue: The Catholic Moral Tradition Today”

My response to God’s invitation cannot be a passive response. It requires intention, presence, and attention in the midst of the very many distractions of our lives.

Infographics: Feminization of Migration

As I prepare for my oral comprehensive exams for my MA in Theology which are in three weeks, I am revisiting much of my research and writing from my courses these past two years in ethics and spirituality. Last year, I researched the phenomenon of the feminization of migration for my course on Women, Poverty, and Global Justice. Right now I’m engaging with the ethical reflection work I did on this reality, focused primarily on kinship and solidarity as ethical responses and ways toward immigration justice.

I was also reminded last night, re-reading the work of Gustavo Gutiérrez: “From the perspective of the option for the poor, theology is done not only about the migrants and their situation, but from their situation.”  So what is the situation of the feminization of migration? What can we learn from the experiences of women migrants themselves?  I am sharing below two infographics I made last semester as part of my own research and ethical reflection on this reality. If you find them helpful or engaging, please feel free to use them. My nerdiness is at your service, or really, in the service of justice for all God’s children.  If you do end up using them, please let me know.

[Here is a link to download my Feminization of Migration Infographic]

Infographic on the feminization of migration
Infographic on the feminization of migration
Infographic on women's experience of migration
Infographic on women’s experience of migration

No Longer Strangers … a Scripture reflection

ephesiansI was invited to give a reflection on Ephesians 2:12-22 today at an all school mid-day prayer service held in our chapel at Catholic Theological Union.  It was a wonderful opportunity to ponder the word of God in the context of our community. Here’s what I shared:

As a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, I was delighted when I was invited to offer a short reflection on this reading from Ephesians, in which the theme of peace is so strong.

“For he is our peace … He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.”

I can’t help but hear echoes of my religious community’s Constitutions, where we say:

“Christ is our peace, the source of our power. United with him we engage in the struggle against the reality of evil and continue the work of establishing God’s reign of justice and peace.”

Christ is our peace, calling us to unity. But if we look around, so much divides us. Dividing walls abound, some of them quite literal like the ones we build on our borders.

Christ is our peace, but WE must make that peace known in our world. In the words of Paul VI who was beatified in Rome just this past weekend: “If you want peace, work for justice.”

As I have been sitting with this reading these past few days, I have been struck by another line from Ephesians:

“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners…”

In 2003, the Bishops of the United States and Mexico crossed the dividing wall between our nations, united as one Church, to reflect on the reality of immigration and the need for immigration justice.

They called their joint pastoral letter: “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope.”

In the letter, the Bishops reflect on themes of migration and hospitality in Scripture:

  • From Abraham and Sarah offering hospitality to three strangers, who were actually a manifestation of God
  • To the edict to welcome the stranger, remembering Israel’s own exile in Egypt
  • To the Holy Family’s own flight into Egypt
  • To the reading we have today, of which the Bishops say:
    “The triumph of grace in the Resurrection of Christ plants hope in the hearts of all believers and the Spirit works in the Church to unite all peoples of all races and cultures into the one family of God.”

Just look around our community here at CTU. Our students come from places that are far and places that are near.  We come from places of relative peace and prosperity and places that have experienced deep division and heart wrenching violence.

We come to learn to be unifiers, reconcilers, bearers of mercy and builders of peace.

CTU is now even a place of hospitality, welcoming immigrant women and families in the Marie Joseph House of Hospitality across the street.

We have also been invited to participate in a practical work of mercy this week through a winter clothing drive for our immigrant brothers and sisters.

As the CTU community, we are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.

May we be reconcilers in our families and communities.

May we welcome the stranger and work for justice.

May we seek, build, live, and bring peace.


Movement and colors

Given that the main focus of my life (studying & writing) involves sedentary tasks, I have made myself a promise to get moving everyday. Sometimes this involves going to the gym where I move on the elliptical machine with music in my ears (of my own choosing, not the gym music mix!). Other times like today this means a brisk walk in the neighborhood.

I have chosen the neighborhood walk most non rainy days this fall, because of the colors! 


This is my third autumn in Chicago,  and while I will be lamenting the bare branches and lack of anything green soon enough, the fall colors are lovely! They also serve as added motivation for me to get outside and get moving.

Breaks and Falls

Perspective from my window on the train
Perspective from my window on the train

My life these days is mostly consumed with what is right before me–writing my thesis and preparing for my oral comprehensive exams. So, while this week is technically “reading week” at Catholic Theological Union, every week has been reading (and writing) week for me since I came back from our congregation chapter almost a month ago.  I’m hoping to get to the halfway point of my thesis today or maybe tomorrow (God willing!), which helps me to realize that what is ahead of me is doable and I just need to focus.

But focus I’m realizing also requires breaks for perspective. And so I took the train to Wisconsin this weekend to visit a younger Catholic Sister friend. There was no substantive reading and no writing this weekend. Just visiting, laughing, exploring, and relaxing which I think I really needed. Breaks are important. They ground us in reality, help us touch back into the wider world and see beyond the tunnel vision we can develop when we’re focused solely on what is ahead. I guess you could say that breaks are a way of getting practice using our peripheral vision.

While I have plenty to be about in my immediate future, given that I am working to finish my degree requirements before Christmas, I also find myself skipping ahead to the adventures that start in January. But a funny thing happens when I do that, or at least a funny (and somewhat painful) thing has happened twice in the past month. I fall. No major bones broken, just some minor scrapes and bruises that I have acquired while thinking far ahead into the future instead of paying attention to where I am walking. My subconscious does this to me sometimes (or maybe it’s the universe or even an experience of God’s sense of humor).  In any case, I wonder if it’s not a way of keeping me real.

For example, I remember when I was preparing to profess vows I fell not once, not twice, but three times in the weeks before,  in a very similar fashion–walking while worrying about the far off future instead of paying attention to what lies directly ahead. What’s funny is that this last incident literally occurred just as I was arriving home and getting ready to cross the street with my suitcase to my building. Here I was, physically transitioning from my mini-relaxing-weekend-break to the work of research and writing, but my mind was even farther down the line. So my body protested, bringing my focus and attention back to the present moment.  I could do without scraped knees and bruised elbows, but I’m also happy to be present in this moment. I just hope that maybe I’ve learned what I’ve needed to learn and can avoid a third fall?