As many of you know, the Mission Chairs have been hosting monthly meals focused on our move toward an integrated campus. We alternate meals between campuses and provide van transportation for those traveling from one campus to another. By the end of the academic year, a person from each office and department will have received at least one invitation. We plan to continue our meals throughout the next academic year.
Thus far, we have hosted four meals (Nov. 28, Dec. 13, Jan. 31, and Feb. 15) with participation from nearly 70 faculty and staff. We shared our first meal with members of the campus integration team and from there, we have invited faculty and staff from across departments, offices, schools, and colleges.
Our goals for these meal gatherings are to share mission-centered stories and perspectives from all corners of the University, and encourage University members to reflect on their contributions to an integrated St. Kate’s community. The meals have served as a way to gain a deeper understanding of our institution and build community through story telling.
People are invited to bring an object and a story — sacred and quotidian — that represent who we are as a community: a compass, healing stones, art, a hockey puck, a name tag, a book, key chains, an “ancient” Greek vessel, a communication board, a Frisbee, a coffee cup, a mason jar of marbles, a shawl, and a desk set of pins and tacks. See the photo above for more examples.
We savor the stories that we have heard… of bearing witness to the incredible growth of our students, and of the first-generation children of immigrants who honor the opportunities provided to them. Stories of sacred spaces, of the spirit of “breaking trail,” of the reciprocal nature of our work, of the entrepreneurial spirit that lives at St. Kate’s. Stories of recognizing pain and disconnection, of problem-solving, of flexibility and renewal, of relationships, of opportunities and collaborations that feed our souls, and stories of student dreams. There are stories that have the making of legends — the feral cat, the sister and the marine; the troublesome lab table, a chainsaw and one determined biology professor. Your stories have been of space and place, of faith and grace, of resilience and determination, of intellectual challenge and contemplation, of balance and encouragement.
Through a reflection exercise, we name our unique gifts that could serve the campus integration. Highlights and commonalities include listening, curiosity, relationship-building, problem-solving, dedication, dialogue, thinking out-of-the-box, work ethic, flexibility, optimism — and so many more!
As we move through our ‘anger and frustration’ and ‘reset the table’ for our campus integration on March 7 (per President Becky’s email on Feb 23), we are confident that as a community we have an abundance of gifts to share with one another. When pooled together, these will lead us in building our integrated campus while celebrating and building upon our unique cultures and identities we hold as schools, colleges, departments, and offices.
As our CSJ sisters say....“while we barely know how, we love.” We would suggest that while we barely know how, we will move forward together as a community, and like the sisters, we will do it well.