Expanding the Opportunities for Conversation
I began the new academic year with an invitation to two groups: CTU staff and faculty; and members of my own parish, St. Gertrude in Chicago. For each group I created a private, "secret" Facebook Group where they could post a 100-150 word story and photo that illustrated in some way one of their callings. I invited my Sacraments I students to create digital stories about one of their callings. I wrote for my own parish and gave a presentation to a local parish...all on our callings.
Here is the follow-up information I provided to CTU staff and faculty after I made a short presentation on the CCW project at our start-of-the-year August 27th faculty-staff gathering. I invited participants to consider sharing one of their "call" stories. I explained then how we were expanding the conversation about Christian's callings through a community art-making project located on a private Facebook Group, "Our Callings: CTU":
Welcome to The Christians’ Callings
in the World (CCW) Project
How do we to create opportunities for people to connect the callings of their everyday lives with their faith, to make meaning of who they are and what they do? That’s the question a small CTU team of staff and faculty has been chasing for more than three years. We have been doing research on, writing about, and experimenting with ways to help our students empower others to share their stories about their callings in the world. This year, we are opening up this Lilly Endowment project more broadly to invite others in CTU to participate….including you!
I have created a private Facebook Group as the online place where we can share with each other 100-150 words about one of our callings and a photo that illustrates that calling, whether literally, metaphorically, symbolically, or (however you are inspired) artistically. Why share your story? It can be a very spiritually enriching experience. I have made this invitation to students in courses. I have offered this opportunity to my fellow parishioners at St. Gertrude Church through a six-week mini-course on Photography as a Spiritual Practice. In the very act of thinking about our callings, shooting or choosing a photo to illustrate one of them, and having a chance to talk with others about how we have experienced God’s call in our daily lives, we find how greatly we have been blessed. Often I hear, “I never thought about that as being a calling…” To see examples of such surprises and to learn more, go to http://www.OurCallingsInTheWorld.net.
WHAT’S A CALLING?
That’s up to you to discern. The simplest way I have found to describe a “calling” is to say it is whatever nudges us to become more and more a person-for-others. In extending ourselves in loving care for others, we become more and more who God calls us to be. God calls. We respond in all kinds of ways, simple and complex. What might "count" as a calling? You may realize you have had a calling in living out:
-- your commitments and passions,
-- your loving relationships,
-- your work, whether paid or volunteer,
-- your talents, skills, and experience,
-- your actions to serve others in whatever context.
Whatever it is, a calling stretches us to be more and more a person for others. What is one of your callings? We would love to hear your story!
HOW TO START?
(1) Get a Facebook account. (2) Send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) that you want to join the group. (3) I’ll send you an invitation to join, that you then accept. (4) Next, you post your story and can read those of your colleagues.
Eileen D. Crowley, on behalf of the CTU CCW Team
At top right is one of the fruits of this project...
A Good Friday Sermon
Being A Dad
by Scott Alexander, Ph.D. (August, 2012), Associate Professor of Islam
Director of Catholic-Muslim Studies Program, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago
I am a parent. Despite the fact that there are other aspects to my apostolate, being a father and a husband are probably the most essential of all. I say this largely because I have come to experience the mystery of God's redeeming love most profoundly in my relationships with my wife and son. Maybe in another post, I can talk about my successes and many failures as a husband. Here, however, I would like to share a bit about my calling as a "dad"--or, as my son (who is a developing professional triathlete likes to put it)--a "doach." For those of you who may be less inclined than my son and I when it comes to inventing silly hybrid neologisms, a "doach" is a dad who is also a coach. (He and I thought it had a much better ring than "cad"!). In a way, I suppose I have been a "doach" ever since my son was born. Like any parent, one of my main set of responsibilities has been to encourage, instruct, support, and inspire my child as he both trains for, and simultaneously 'runs the course' that is his life. One of the most profound, and terrifying, lessons I have had to learn in my calling as ""doach" has been, and continues to be, the power of my words. My son remembers things I have said to him over the years--both good and bad--of which I myself have little to no recollection. This inescapable fact has inspired in me great trepidation, as well as a healthy, though not overwhelming (thanks be to God), sense of regret. It has also caused me to be a better, albeit far from perfect, custodian of my words. That the authenticity of my words depends on my actions is without doubt. But if I do not take the time and effort, when I am able, to choose my words wisely, then I usually stumble and fall in my vocation as "doach." If I take the time ti offer my words eucharistically--as a sacrifice of love in truth--then I stand a much better chance at living up to my calling to encourage, instruct, support, and inspire this incredible young man I am proud to call my "boy" and--more importantly--my friend.
Digital StoryTelling Continues
I gave students in my Fall 2012 W4200 Sacraments I course the option to create a digital story about one of their baptismal callings. Here one of our
CTU seminarians tells his story of a surprising callings:
Here is the invitation I made through the parish bulletin, as part of our Growing in Faith column, a column written each week by a different parishioner. I am a member of the Growing in Faith editorial committee and chose to write a column that would appear in the Sunday bulletin of Labor Day weekend (GIF Bulletin Article for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 2, 2012)
What’s Your Calling?
On this Labor Day weekend, we celebrate all the ways people contribute to society. Surely that includes more than how we make our living, as important as that is. And the sad fact is, far too many people these days have no employment. So let’s expand the definition of “labor,” shall we? Let’s include all our “labors of love” we offer to people and causes in our lives. Some of our labors have arisen from the nudging of the Holy Spirit. They are “callings.” How can we tell? These are the ones that have beckoned us beyond ourselves to become people-for-others. Of course, our first calling comes in the waters of
baptism – to be Christ’s disciples sent forth to serve the world, especially those who are poor, sick, hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, homeless, or oppressed. (Luke
4: 14-21). But if we see the callings of our daily lives with the eyes of faith, we may realize that we have had and are now living out many callings…not only whatever we may do with our skills and talents, but also how we live in our loving relationships and how we empower others to flourish through our passions and commitments.
An Invitation: Since helping ordinary folks connect their lives and their faith is one of my callings (and part of my labor), I invite you to share a story of one of your callings in 100-150 words plus a photo posted on a private Facebook Group I’ve created just for St. Gertrude parishioners. Once you have a Facebook account, send me an email: email@example.com. I’ll invite you to the Group and give you instructions on how to upload your call story. To learn about my larger research project, go to www.OurCallingsInTheWorld.net . So…what’s your calling? We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
Eileen D. Crowley for Growing in Faith
Note: This bulletin article needed to fit the 300-word limit of the GIF space allocated for our column.
Imaging Our Callings in the World
During Spring 2013, I led a 6-week mini-course on Photography as a Spiritual Practice, hosted by two churches, one Lutheran and one Presbyterian. At the close of the course, I invited the participants to create a series of photographs that literally or figuratively told stories of one or more of their callings in the world. Two view their photography and comments, click on the pages below.
Our Baptismal Call: