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2011 Caritas Veritas Symposium: From Motto to Mission (How Cool is That?)

October 7, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Starting a tradition is exciting, but when something actually becomes a tradition, that is truly special.  This year the second annual Caritas Veritas Symposium turned an event into a tradition.  Certainly, to do something once with the size and proceedings of the Caritas Veritas Symposium is impressive, but to do it again is amazing.  This year, the Symposium drew in over 1200 people for 38 scholarly presentations as well as a beautiful opening plenary session and a closing academic convocation.  If you weren’t able to attend the Symposium I would encourage you to watch the recordings of the opening and closing celebrations on the Symposium Website.  The Dominican spirit is especially evident in the beautiful reflection given by Claire Noonan, DMin, Director of the Siena Center.

I had the privilege of presenting in the session “Interfaith Works,” in which a panel of three other students and I spoke about interfaith work in our personal lives, university activities, and world community.  (If I get started now I won’t be able to stop, so I’ll have to save my interfaith passion for another post).  Preparing and presenting this information was exciting.  I got a little sense of why people are excited about teaching—sharing my passion was thrilling.

One special part of the Symposium is the way it creates students and teachers of us all.  Immediately after the “Interfaith Works” presentation, I attended a session entitled “ What We Can and Must Do About Reforming Schools and Making Education Equitable for All.”  Education reform has been a concern of mine for a while, so as a curious non-education major this was the perfect opportunity to learn what our professors of education believe.  I use the word believe here because the Symposium emphasizes not only scholarly evidence, but also compassionate feeling.  The theme “From Motto to Mission” gave a voice to this.  How can we create a more just and humane world using love and truth?  The education presentation and all of the sessions proved to me that “love” and “truth” are not just English translations of lofty Latin words.  It takes mind and heart.  “Interfaith Works” tried to show that it takes spirit, too.

I left the Symposium feeling tired from a busy day, yet inspired by all of the deep thinking and story-sharing.  I was touched by the presentation of M. Cherif Bassiouni, the recipient of the Bradford O’Neil Medallion for Social Justice.  He told stories of his human rights and peacemaking efforts in the world (and I mean the entire world—Libya, Afghanistan, and over 100 more countries).  The way he spoke about working with world leaders and diplomats was eye-opening.  He seemed to have an incredible understanding of the equality and value of every person he worked with.  The conversation he had with political leaders in Libya sounded a lot like the exchange he had with a co-worker.  Talk about being real and honest!  His message was clear and memorable:  when you face God at the end of your life, will you be able to tell Him you did your best?

The Sr. Mary Clemente Davlin, OP Diversity Leadership Award was granted to Krista Hansen, whose work in DU’s theater program has opened many eyes and hearts to truth through the dramatic arts.  As a theater lover, I am thrilled that she has been recognized for her service and meaningful work.  Also recognized was Pat Klbecka who has worked at Dominican University for 31 years.  She surely deserves the beautiful bouquet of flowers, standing ovation, and title of Honorary Dean Emerita she was given!  She will be retiring at the end of October.  The address by Portia Anderson, Class of 2012, was also special because we are co-workers in Dominican’s Residence Life.  Portia is a wonderful co-worker and friend.  It was a blessing to hear some of the wisdom she has gained in her time at DU.  Not only were the Convocation speakers superb, but the procession of faculty members was also splendid—what’s more university-esque than robe-wearing professors marching down a dimly-lit auditorium aisle with stately organ music resounding in the rafters?

In short, the 2011 Symposium was a whole day of inspiration, contemplation, education, and application of love and truth.  How cool is that?

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