Leave it to ITI students to make the most of their summer break. The following is a roundup of some of the global adventures of returning students, which includes volunteering, teaching, and attending summer schools.
What I did: I taught English at the English Summer School (ESS) in Ukraine for the Ukrainian Catholic University. ESS is a summer camp held each year outside of Lviv for students attending the Ukrainian Catholic University.
My thoughts: Teaching English at the English Summer School in Ukraine was truly amazing and unforgettable. It was a blessing to be able to help these students learn English and to learn so much myself. I made so many dear friends and had such a wonderful time being a part of the community there. I also came to love Ukraine more and more and all things Ukrainian, Слава Україні! I was surrounded by amazing and inspiring people, all of whom I am grateful to for such an extraordinary summer: the priests who said liturgy for us everyday, my fellow teachers and other camp volunteers, the administration and leaders of the camp, and of course the wonderful students (especially the seminarians)!
What I did: This summer I presented a paper at the Hildebrand Schülerkreis on Moral Action and the Apprehension of the Person. The Schülerkreis was focused on Christian Personalism and Phenomenological realism, and it particularly sought to foster dialogue between this tradition and that of Thomistic philosophy. It was hosted in Gaming, Austria.
My thoughts: It was a wonderful event and posed some very interesting questions which led to great discussions, particularly concerning the encounter between metaphysics and phenomenology. One thing that really struck me was how two people can disagree profoundly over something, and yet discuss it in a spirit of friendship, both seeking the truth together. It was also my first time presenting a paper at a conference, and so the experience was really encouraging, particularly as I look to continue my studies and delve deeper into some big questions.
What I did: This summer I attended the Central European Summer Summer school for 10 days in Poland, walking in the footsteps of St. John Paul II and learning what it means to be a leader.
My thoughts: I especially enjoyed visiting the places of John Paul II, including: Wadowice, the place of his birth and childhood and home parish, hiking on the nature trail he walked near his home, and visiting Kraków, the city where he was a young priest and bishop. I also enjoyed meeting and interacting with people from England, Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine. Thanks be to God for a blessed time!
What I did: This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Armenia and Georgia. I spent one month volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity in Spitak, an Armenian village. I assisted the Sisters at their center caring for those with physical and/or mental disabilities.
My thoughts: My days consisted of praying with the Sisters, cleaning/cooking, visiting women and families in the village, and most importantly, and giving as much love and attention as possible to those living at the center. It was a wonderful experience filled with so much joy! I cherished every moment spent with my new Armenian family and I left the country with a promise to return next summer.
What I did: I attended the Humanum Institute’s Sex and Gender conference at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, England.
My thoughts: The conference offered a wealth of insight into gender dysphoria and the issues surrounding it, and Dr. Newton (ITI alum and past professor) was one of many amazing speakers. It also allowed me a glimpse of what our British brothers and sisters in Christ are currently facing. And last, I discovered Cadbury is superior to Milka (sorry, Switzerland).
What I did: On July 30, I attended the first-ever celebration of the feast day of Bl. Solanus Casey, a Capuchin friar who lived in my home archdiocese of Detroit (Michigan, USA). Present at the feast day Mass were the archbishop, members of Solanus Casey’s family, members of the Capuchins, and the Panamanian woman whose healing prompted his beatification in November 2017. The Mass was held at the National Shrine of the Little Flower, a basilica where Solanus Casey often prayed.
My thoughts: I was at the ITI when Solanus Casey was beatified in Detroit last November, so I wasn’t able to attend the beatification Mass, which made me that much more eager to attend the first feast day of Detroit’s first “hometown saint” with the archbishop. The basilica was packed, and when Archbishop Vigneron asked during his homily how many people had had a prayer answered through Solanus’ intercession, there wasn’t a single pew without at least one hand in the air.
Bl. Solanus is a great reminder to me of the importance of humility and of God’s ability to work through His “little ones”. Solanus was ordained a simplex priest (meaning he could not preach nor hear confessions) due to his academic and linguistic struggles in the German-language seminary in Wisconsin, and he was assigned the lowly job of “porter” at the friary in Detroit after his ordination, and yet God chose to use him as an instrument of healing for thousands of people, both during his lifetime and afterwards. People would line the street just to speak with him, and he encouraged and affirmed many in their faith.
As a student of theology, immersed in academia, I have found it tremendously important to have such role models to remind me that a smile or a cup of water given to one in need is worth more than all the “right answers” in the world. And whenever I find myself struggling to understand a concept – or a language – I know that I can turn to him for assistance in both humbly accepting my limitations and joyfully persevering in my assigned tasks, no matter how difficult they may seem.
Bl. Solanus Casey, pray for us!