Thursday, March 27, 2014

Student Franciscan Pilgrimage: Day Five

Today the students leave Rome and begin an intense focus on the lives and impact of Francis and Clare. They begin, not in Assisi but in Greccio. Greccio is a mountain hermitage outside the village of Greccio in Tuscany. In this little town, in 1223, Francis recreated a living Nativity scene. Francis was a concrete thinker. This concrete thinking appears to function as his launch into activity. In this case it was a way for Francis to demonstrate to others the humility of the creator joining His creations by becoming a helpless infant to a poor family. His demonstration must have been effective because 800 years later living nativity scenes are still popular!

The Christmas Crib of Greccio

The pilgrims will spend time in this mountain hermitage. They will spend time in the places Francis visited and prayed at. They will see displays of crèches made today by the village people of Greccio. The crèches are not of Bethlehem 2000 years ago but of the world today. They demonstrate that Jesus is with us now.

The pilgrims will celebrate Eucharist at Greccio. This is appropriate since Francis was able to get the pope’s permission to have Eucharist celebrated on that Dec. 24th 800 years ago.

The Rieti Valley has a number of Franciscan hermitages. The valley was not always a valley. The ancient Romans came across a large lake. They drained the lake to make a staging area for the Imperial Army. I cannot even comprehend how that is possible. The pilgrims will have a traditional Italian Christian lunch at La Foresta. They will then take a bus ride south to Assisi.

When they arrive in Assisi they will walk past most of the important sites they will get to know over the coming days. They will get their room assignments at Casa Papa Giovani, their pensione. They will then have their first of many meals at Casa Papa’s. They will learn to look forward to the food and the prayers that are song.


After dinner they will have a brief orientation and then they will join the city in welcoming in the New Year. They will go to the piazza commune, the town center. This piazza, with its fountain,. Roman Temple, cobblestone and city walls will prove to be the anchor of many of their excursions in the coming days. After the celebrations they will join the New Year in the chapel with Adoration and Praise.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Link to New Vlog

Well, this blog is moving way too slow. It was a nice introduction, for me, to blogging. Now it is time to continue the journey but with a clean slate. So, "alongthepaths" will now be my active/current blog. I will not close this one and from time to time refer back to it.The new blog will focus more on video and will be more of a vlog and a traditional blog.

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.