The 7 Pillars guide our experience, reflection, and action on our service and justice trips.
People are in need now, so we need to serve them.
Since this is the one pillar that is in the name of our program, it must be important! On each Spring & Fall Break Service Trip we try to include some meaningful direct service work. This could include repairing houses, serving at a soup kitchen or visiting with someone (ministry of presence). The point is that if people are in need now, we need to serve them. If someone is hungry now, we need to feed them. Service is strongly rooted in all faith traditions. An added bonus of service is that it provides the opportunity to explore or clarify participants’ plans for professional commitments and/or discerning the possibility of longer-term volunteer opportunities.
For your consideration, read: In the Service of Life.
Someone is hungry, so we need to feed them AND we need to ask why this person is hungry, then work to change social systems so that the direct service may no longer be needed.
Service and justice are tightly intertwined. We explore justice on Fall and Spring Break Service Trips by doing social analysis around issues that affect the people in our host communities. This social analysis helps us to understand the importance of both personal responsibility and social structures. By the end of our Service and Justice Trips, we hope to be able to put some of our ideas into action on behalf of justice. An influential Jesuit document maintains that all their ministries need be “in the service of faith of which the promotion of justice is an absolute necessity.” Despite the presence of many injustices in the world, we gain hope by learning from individuals and organizations who are dedicated to working in and improving their communities.
“Solidarity is where your heart is at. Kinship is where your feet are at.” -Greg Boyle, SJ
During our service trips, we try to live in a way that is similar to our hosts. We want to learn about their assets and their struggles. In some way, we hope to continue to work with this community once we are home. This may include advocacy, prayer, donations and other forms of support. “Solidarity is the social meaning of humility. Just as humility leads individuals to all other virtues, humility as solidarity is the foundation of a just society. Solidarity shapes our lifestyle, which will depend on each one’s vocation. Solidarity doesn’t mean destitution. It has nothing to do with denying our training or neglecting our talents. Solidarity leads to sharing the obscurity, misunderstanding, and contempt experienced by the poor.” “Our solidarity is not just with the poor. It must be as broad as it is deep, drawing all those with whom we work and those whom we serve into union with one another.” Dean Brackley, The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times.
For your consideration, listen to: Greg Boyle’s CU Commencement Reflection.
Refraining from other “stuff” that gets in the way of hearing our true selves and God.
Life can get complex. Sometimes we need to strip away some of that complexity in order to remember what is truly important. Focusing on simplicity allows us to reconnect with what is essential. Simplicity can mean refraining from excessive material consumption. Simplicity can also mean refraining from other “stuff” that gets in the way of hearing our true selves and God: television, music, busy-ness. Simplicity can also mean doing something such as taking a walk in nature. Simplicity is not poverty, which is always degrading and dehumanizing. Through simplicity, participants can explore and question how their own lifestyles are connected to and interdependent with the lives of others. Participants describe leaving their cell phones and other personal technologies behind on their trips as freeing.
For your consideration, see: The Story of Stuff.
In a world of limited resources, it is time that we ask what is ours to use? and how can we heal and reverse the damage done to our planet? We need to ask our political leaders for environmental justice.
Simplicity and Sustainability are closely related, with simplicity focusing on an individual lifestyle refraining from over-consumption. Living simply may contribute to a more sustainable future but that may or may not be the intent of the simple living practitioner. Sustainability refers to our ability as a society and a species to sustain our existence over time. If we are going to do this, we need to have large systemic global change and some major lifestyle changes.
For your consideration, watch: Six Degrees Could Change the World.
I am because we are; and we are because I am.
Catholic Social Thought teaches that we are always individuals in community. Each individual is sacred, and so is the community. An African proverb puts it this way: “I am because we are; and we are because I am.” There are many communities involved in Service and Justice Trips: the group of student participants, the host community, the Creighton community and beyond. We strive to build positive relationships both within the Creighton group and with people of the host site. We realize that participants are not simply individuals who experience a Service and Justice Trip on their own, but rather that they are persons in a group who can support and challenge one another throughout their experience. We provide participants the opportunity to learn about the dynamics of community and community-building.
Placing our experiences in dialogue with where we make meaning, such as our faith traditions and family backgrounds.
Reflection is as important as the service itself. It is through reflection that we make meaning out of our experiences. Reflection is about placing our experiences in dialogue with where we make meaning in our lives, such as our faith traditions and family backgrounds. Through reflection we hope participants can integrate their immersion experiences with the rest of their lives. We provide times for reflection and prayer, respectful and appreciative of diverse backgrounds. Each evening the group gathers for an hour or so to reflect on the day’s experiences. Many participants find this activity to be the most rewarding of the week.
For your consideration, watch: The Examen.