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"