In May, three Lourdes faculty and staff members traveled to Italy as part of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU) Pilgrimage program. (View slideshow)
Anjali Gray, PhD, Chair of Biology & Health Sciences; Joyce Litten, EdD, Chair of Social Work and Helene Sheets ('09, MOL, Organizational Leadership), Director of College Relations, spent nine days learning about the history of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi and touring historical and religious landmarks.
This marked the first year that Lourdes participated in this educational pilgrimage for educators and staff.
The purpose of the pilgrimage is to bring together individuals of various faith traditions from Franciscan institutions to reflect on and learn from the vision and values of Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi. The pilgrimage includes time for reflection, study, conversation, leisure, relaxation and visits to sacred Franciscan places in Assisi and Rome.
"In making this pilgrimage, I found that I am better connected to a Franciscan identity and tradition that will inform my teaching and ability to problem-solve with students. At this time and in this place in our world, students need to be especially well-grounded in the work of St. Francis in order to be better prepared to act on behalf of those without work, without a voice and without a future.
"Within the courses that I teach in social policy, the students and I reflect on the writings of St. Francis in his last testament: 'I have worked with my hands and I chose to work, and I firmly wish that all my brothers should work at some honorable trade. And if they do not know how, let them learn.'"
As social workers, we are called to find solutions to complex problems, to teach people to contribute and work for the common good. In accepting our human connections and community roles, I believe we should heed St. Francis' words in our response to unmet needs.