Sunday, March 3, 2019

Human Dignity in our School of Religion

The food packing event was part of different themes our class has been exploring related to Human Dignity.  A few weeks ago, we  had speakers from the Culture Project talk to our class.  Ally and Jessie were great - both young adults spending a year in service and they talked a lot about why they made this choice for their own lives.  Their dedication to service alone was an inspiring message.

The video and discussion they showed covered a range of topics related to human dignity, from slavery and sexual trafficking to abortion and pornography.  The kids spent most of the time listening, but at the end were asked to submit questions in writing, which the speakers then sorted by topic and began to address.  Many of the questions were profound and showed the degree to which the speakers' message resonated with the students.  One student commented that s/he "learned that there is much more to our society than I thought there was.  Another raised a question about the nature of evil, why God allows it to exist, and how those who engage in destructive acts could have also been created by God with a purpose - in other words, do "the bad guys" also have human dignity.  The speakers did an excellent job of explaining the big picture about issues that affect human dignity while also bringing the topic to the kids' daily lives and how they can help others.  

We continued this conversation in the next class where we viewed a documentary called, "A Dollar A Day" about four college students from the US who go to Guatemala and try to survive on the equivalent of one US dollar per day.  It's interesting and inspiring on many levels and in our discussion the kids did a great job of reflecting on both economic justice and possible solutions, with their ideas moving beyond fundraising to ideas related to advocacy, policy, solidarity, and understanding.  We discussed how advocacy for the poor relates to Christ's teachings.

Then, in this week's class we had the opportunity to hear from another speaker.  Sr. Carolyn is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who has worked in South Sudan since 2011.  She spoke to the kids about her work there and the challenges of working in a region with economic and political challenges. Sr. Carolyn also shared her own motivation in becoming a Sister and particularly one called to missionary work, running a medical training and teaching training school.  She said that she grew up in Millbrae and was inspired by stories of the Saints to serve God amid the poor.   We reminded the kids that God likewise created each of them with a unique purpose to serve others, to be Christ in the world.  I found her bio at the Sister's web site.  Love this:  

She says of her 50+ years as a Sister, “My thoughts are filled with gratitude to our Good God for Her great mercy in loving me and my family and bringing me to Notre Dame and blessing me with such wonderful years of ministry in Kenya and Sudan. Reflecting on the thread of events through my various ministries fills me with wonder at how God does work in our lives.”

So happy with the way these topics have come together to get the kids thinking about faith in action, especially as we approach the Lenten season.

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