A new two-year project will make living connections for students and faculty between a core curriculum based on the Common Good and the legacy of service that is the bedrock of the Mount’s founding Sisters of Charity.
A $44,000 Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) Program Development Grant was awarded to the Mount in November 2013. The grant comes from the Council of Independent Colleges with funds from Lilly Endowment Inc.
The Mount will spend the grant during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years on mission and pilgrimage trips designed to deepen the understanding of the Charity Charism embraced by the Sisters of Charity. There are very few sisters left actively working in education ministries, said John Trokan, D.Min., associate professor and chairperson of the Department of Religious and Pastoral Studies. This makes it especially important for faculty to immerse themselves in the life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the teachings of her order, Trokan said.
“In terms of the meaning of a charity education – we all need to own it,” Trokan said. “We are the living link in terms of the Charism and how it is lived out on campus.”
The NetVUE grant will fund two summer pilgrimage trips for 12 faculty and staff members at a time to the National Shrine and Seton Heritage Center in Emmitsburg, Md. This is where Seton founded the Sisters of Charity in 1809. Sister Nancy Bramlage, SC, director of mission and ministry, said being in the same spaces where Seton worked is empowering. Faculty can strengthen their perspective on approaching teaching, advising and coaching as a ministry. “This makes the whole story and person of Elizabeth Seton come alive,” Bramlage said.
For students, the NetVUE grant funds mission trips to New Orleans. The Mount has sponsored these service learning excursions trips for years. The grant will emphasize the “mission” part of them, Bramlage said. Students stay at the Sisters’ House of Charity, where activities mirror the Sisters’ Charism of doing whatever presents itself. “God is calling us to do what is needed at this moment, and in New Orleans it’s very obvious that what is needed is housing,” Bramlage said.
After daily volunteering, students will spend evenings processing their days, talking about what they learned and whom they want to pray for. They also will gather footage and conduct interviews for a DVD they will produce, in order to share their experiences with others.
“That will really help them reflect on what they are doing,” Bramlage said. “And it will encourage more students to make the trip.”
The NetVUE grant is just the beginning of the Common Good/Charity Charism connection. Mount President Tony Aretz, Ph.D., said he is committed to sustaining the outcomes of discerning meaning and value in serving the common good for years to come.
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