Friday, February 22, 2013

Congrats "friend of Theology" and IHM seminarian Tim Smith for being a winner in the Kabara Elevator Pitch competition!

Summer Discernment Conference/Retreat. Perhaps for free?

One of the pieces encouraged in this program is participate in a discernment retreat.  This is one of your best options, right here: The Catholics on Call Summer Young Adult Conference 2013.  The dates are August 6-10, and it is in Chicago, at the Catholic Theological Union.  Participants rave about this experience and how it helps them think and pray through what God may be calling them to within the Church.  This is not just for people thinking about the priesthood and religious life (although that works too!).  And you get to meet young people from all over the country in the same boat.

If you are interested, talk to Dean of Campus Ministry Steven McGlaun about possible scholarship funding.  You may need to get yourself there, but the registration fee that covers room and board may be covered through OCM, assuming not everyone in the department decides to attend at once.

The application for the summer program is due May 6th, but they are taking applications now.  If you are interested, please don't delay.  And let us know you want to attend!

Much more here.

Want To Be Taken Seriously? Become A Better Writer.

image by -
Want To Be Taken Seriously?  Become A Better Writer.

From the article:

The number of poorly written emails, resumes and blog posts I come across each month is both staggering and saddening. Grammar is off. There are tons of misspellings. Language is much wordier or more complex than necessary. Some things I read literally make no sense at all to me.
Writing is a lost art, and many professionals don’t realize how essential a job skill it is. Even if you’re not a writer by trade, every time you click "Publish" on a blog, "Post" on a LinkedIn update, or "Send" on an email, you are putting your writing out into the world.
Your writing is a reflection of your thinking. Clear, succinct, convincing writing will differentiate you as a great thinker and a valuable asset to your team.
If you want to be thought of as a smart thinker, you must become a better writer. If you want to be taken seriously by your manager, colleagues, potential employers, clients and prospects, you must become a better writer.
It's not just you who must become a better writer- it’s all of us. I'll be the first to admit, I too have had to learn to become a better writer. So here are five ways that I've become a better writer over the last several years....
Although this article is written for people working in business, it holds true for anyone looking for a job.  These days, almost everything you write is accessible online.  Correct the grammar and the typos, and spend some time cultivating a solid writing style. We don't just grade the papers "like English professors" because we get a kick out of correcting grammar.  We are trying to help you present your insights and arguments in their best light.  And that, in the end, is a reflection on yourself.

The rest of the article is here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

History in the making....

As every knows by now, Pope Benedict XVI resigned (technically "abdicated the Petrine ministry") this week, due to his felt inability to do the work of the ministry in declining health.  There has been some good news coverage and some truly awful (as in inaccurate) news coverage of that rare event and how things will proceed from here.

One of the best articles on "what happens now?" comes from John Allen, a longtime religion beat reporter: Conclave 101 .

If you want a review of the bad reporting--from the perspective of a group of veteran religion beat reporters who try to keep journalists (including themselves) honest--you can check out this post at Get Religion.

May we live in interesting times, indeed!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Take the tour!

...of the website, that is.

At the top of the website, just above the posts, you can see tabs indicating different stand alone pages on each of the elements of the program.  We just summarized all those, but if you want to remind yourself what this is about, check those pages.

On the right, you see the various ways to get updates from the website: Email, Twitter, a facebook page.  Email is the most certain way you will see the posts.

You also see the link to how to do a concept map, as illustrated in the last post.  We're working on a new program for it, but the instructions still work, as well as the video link.  If you have questions, ask Dr WD or someone else in the department.

Keep scrolling down the right sidebar.  There are tags, to find the posts you'd like to read, long term volunteer opportunities, Catholic news websites, even the lectionary readings for the day (we're one stop shopping!).

Now, looking at the left sidebar, there is a link to the official department website, pictures of you all (and us) in action, job listings, and a link to an eight week online retreat you can start anytime (if interested).

If there is anything else you would find helpful, please contact us and let us know!

Next post: Great!  I understand it, mostly.  Now what?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The National Standards Concept Map

(Click to enlarge)

Do you ever feel busy? It's likely because you are! Our majors tend to be extremely involved in service and church related activities. This concept map gives you the opportunity to place that formative involvement within one of the four formation branches established by the National Standards for Lay Ecclesial Ministry. Not only is this a useful visual aid to show another person (such as, ahem, an employer) what you have done to discern and prepare for lay ministry work, it is also useful to see what you still need to attend to in some matter.

We have a template of this concept map (thank you, Laurie Ziliak!) available through a Blackboard group. If you want access, let us know. The template requires a free computer program called Xmind...but we are looking into making the template available in simpler formats (although admittedly, if you like these things, Xmind has many bells and whistles). The image above is a sample PYM major concept map, created from our National Standards template. It was created through an easy to use website called Text2MindMap. (And this "filled in Joe Student sample" is found here: .)

If you want see a video created on the why and how of creating a concept map such as this as part of your preparation for lay ministry, click here.  It's not the best quality and the first half minute is boring, but I said, I'm a theologian, not an I.T. person....But this concept map could be a great addition to your senior portfolio.  We ask you to consider it.

Next post: Take the tour!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The last two foundational elements: small groups and spiritual direction, and retreat

The last two elements--once again, activities you are likely engaged in--makes up the co-curricular suggestions that move you toward compliance with the national standards.

Clarifying: Small Groups and Spiritual Direction

Leaves and small group theology discussion
(Meeting in the plaza not recommended in January.)

Part of the Christian life, and your reality as a college student, involves discernment: discernment of a state in life (called to marriage, called to a celibate life for God), and discernment in vocation.  No one can discern for you.  But there are helps available to help you listen for God's voice.  We suggest engaging in one of these practices for one academic year.

1. Spiritual direction: "We define Christian spiritual direction as help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship." (William A. Barry, SJ and William J. Connolly, SJ).  Usually directors and directees meet once a month for conversation and prayer.  There are a number of people trained and available for spiritual direction in the Winona area.  Please contact Campus Ministry for names and suggestions on initiating this relationship.

2. Small groups.  Discernment to the vocation of lay ministry is made easier--and more enjoyable--through community support.  To that end, we're encouraging students to consider participating in a small group for one academic year.  This is your chance to ask the questions with others about how the process is going (classes, paper, internships, volunteering, praying, discerning) in a confidential environment shared by friends.  If there is enough interest, we could help you start a small group.  Please contact Dr WD for more information.

Discerning: Retreat

The last element of the program is to participate in one discernment retreat for majors and interested minors, usually offered in January. Students may attend their junior or senior year (or both years). A time away can help a person recognize and name their vocation, and return to classes with new questions and fresh vigor.

This website is also a good source of online prayer resources and retreats.  One of the ongoing we hear from students in the graduate program in Pastoral Ministries is that even working in a parish, maintaining a consistent prayer life is hard.  They also say it is utterly necessary.  Anything you can do to establish that habit now is time well-spent (prayer is always time well-spent!).

Available discernment retreats are often mentioned through posts here.

Next up: the national standards concept map!  (More fun than it sounds like.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

The first three formational elements: Encounter your world, the Vineyard colloquia, Praxis for ministry

We have the practice of  this program broken down into five categories, all of which you likely engage in--at least to some degree--already.  If you engage in these five elements, you will be reasonably prepared to meet the National Standards and the wings of formation on the National Standards concept map template.  This post addresses the first three categories of co-curricular engagement.

Seeing: Encounter Your World

One element of the Spirituality for the Vineyard program involves attending to and learning from the vulnerable in our human family, as well as reaching out and recognizing we are part of a universal church with many cultures, concerns, and manifestations.  The Church tells us that our engagement with the world--and our attention to most in need--is our mission.

The Church's social doctrine “is itself a valid instrument of evangelizationand is born of the always new meeting of the Gospel message and social life. Understood in this way, this social doctrine is a distinctive way for the Church to carry out her ministry of the Word and her prophetic role. ...This is not a marginal interest or activity, or one that is tacked on to the Church's mission, rather it is at the very heart of the Church's ministry of service: with her social doctrine the Church “proclaims God and his mystery of salvation in Christ to every human being, and for that very reason reveals man to himself”[90]. This is a ministry that stems not only from proclamation but also from witness.  (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church #67)

We ask students to participate in one extended cross-cultural service experience.  That could mean a variety of things:

  • Go on a Spring Break or May SOUL (Serving Others United in Love) trip through campus ministry.  If you're new to SMU, SOUL trips are week long (or longer) trips of small groups from SMU, including staff, who immerse themselves in a community service project.  Some sites are international (Guatemala, the Phillipines, Jamaica), but most are in country (for example, the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, New Orleans hurricane relief, working with L'Arche in Iowa, and the Kansas City Catholic Worker, among others).
  • HECUA study abroad student in Ecuador
  • Do a developing world study abroad.  There are many options, including quite a few connected with the Lasallian consortium for study abroadHECUA is another program SMU is affiliated with that has impressive programs in the developing world, and a "Metro Urban Studies term" in the Twin Cities.  There are also summer programs available.
  • Do an extended volunteering year in Winona, but in an area that puts you a different space than what is typical for you: weekly volunteering at the local Catholic Worker (Winona or LaCrosse), Big Brothers/Big Sisters, tutoring at the Red Wing Correctional Facility, etc.

Learning: The Vineyard Colloquia

Rich Curran: Spirituality for the Vineyard workshop #3
Rich Curran, Mar 2010: "All the questions you have about youth ministry, answered"
A colloquium is an informal, yet academic, conversation between scholars (that's you) on a given topic.  The Vineyard Colloquia give students a chance to hear from local and national scholars and practitioners in lay ecclesial ministry.  What is it really like out there?  How did you get to where you are?  How do I discern this?  Are there spiritual practices I should be cultivating now?  Come, listen, ask questions, and learn.

The Spring 2013 speaker?  We soon as details are nailed down, we will announce it!  Coming soon....

Exploring: Praxis for Ministry

Outreach Jeopardy
Lisa and Jake leading a confirmation class.
Yet another element of the program is the expectation that students will be exploring a variety of Christian ministries.  You may have your heart set on one particular ministry, but college is a great opportunity to explore options...and you could always go back to that "one particular ministry" confirmed that this is indeed your passion!

The simplest way to complete this element if you are a Pastoral and Youth Ministry major or a Religious Education major is to complete the requirement one semester internship at a local parish or church affiliated organization.  There are also other volunteer ministries--through SMU and in the local churches and dioceses--that students may count toward this element.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hello, And We're Still Here

First, a great big "whoops."

Late last semester, our rss feed became corrupted (unclear how) and people stopped receiving emails of these posts on the blogsite.  We figured it out on this end in late January...and it took a while to figure out how to fix this very I.T. problem, especially given that your friendly blog administrator is a theologian, not a super techie.

However, the problem is fixed.  We're on a new feed and we have a new email delivery system.  If you are not receiving emails of these posts as of Feb 1, please sign up for the new Mail Chimp email delivery system in the box at upper right.  You can opt out at any time through a handy "unsubscribe" button on each email.  If there are bugs in the system, we will work them out through the next week.  Of course, you can also see the posts through visiting a lot, connecting through Twitter or facebook (see right sidebar)...but please, sign up for the email list.

So!  Where were we?  We were in the middle of the great big Spirituality for the Vineyard reboot!  What is it, why will it help me, and how do I plug in?  You can begin to explore this voluntary co-curricular program right here...and the "how to" posts will begin again starting Monday, Feb 4th.