We are pleased to introduce Emily Carman and Amanda Williams, two students who will represent St. Catherine University (St. Paul, MN) on ACSSJ's pilgrimage to Le Puy, France this June. We asked them to reflect on their upcoming journey.
Q: Who or what inspired you to apply for ACSSJ’s Le Puy Pilgrimage?
Emily: I was inspired to apply for this Pilgrimage because I felt like I was missing something from my education at St. Catherine University. I felt like I wasn't living out our school's mission statement of social justice and that my knowledge of the Sisters of St. Joseph wasn't complete. I have met some of the Sisters here at St. Catherine University when they had come to our volleyball games this past fall to say a prayer with us before the match, and then they stayed and got to see us play. I learned then about their care they have for the students and I was curious to learn more.
Amanda: Last spring, I fulfilled my Theology credit by taking a class called “The Mystery Called Church” taught by Professor Rhodora Beaton, who is no longer teaching at St. Catherine University, but her class taught me a great deal about Catholic Social Teachings. It particularly sparked my interest in the Catholic Worker Movement leading me to the Catholic Worker House in Minneapolis to share a meal in community with a kitchen full of strangers. These strangers spoke about the pillars of the Catholic Worker Movement – the foremost pillar being hospitality which they enact by opening their home to strangers in need of shelter without question. When I saw the application for the ACSSJ’s Le Puy Pilgrimage I talked about it with my good friend Liz Allen – we decided to apply together. I almost didn’t finish my application, because I thought I wasn’t deserving of this amazing opportunity, but Liz pushed me to finish. I am incredibly thankful for her selflessness and for believing in my abilities. Since my senior year of high school, I have kept Mother Teresa’s poem “Do It Anyways,” with me because my great-grandmother had given it to me. I suppose my friend Liz believed in the poem’s sentiment if she knew it or not.
Q: What are you most excited about as you prepare to embark on the Le Puy Pilgrimage?
Emily: I am excited to meet everyone that will be apart of this trip and to get to know more about the different schools that are going. I am also excited to immerse myself in a new culture. I feel blessed to have been chosen to represent my University and to bring back all that we have learned.
Amanda: St. Catherine University remarkably embodies loving our neighbors without distinction – this value is held with such deep care and respect within our institution that my peers and I exemplify it wherever we may go. However, our institution falls incredibly short in caring for God’s creation – we must innovate our sustainable practices to become better stewards of our fragile Earth. I am excited to meet students from other ACSSJ institutions to learn about how they fulfill and live this Catholic Social Teaching. Additionally, I am interested to learn about how the CSJ’s and other Catholics in Le Puy interact with France’s secular government. For instance, do they believe the Church has an obligation to take a stance where social and political issues meet? Finally, I am excited to travel to Le Puy, France to hear the experiences of those who I will meet through the pilgrimage and bring the lessons I will learn back to St. Catherine University.