After graduating from St. Joseph's College in 2002, I completed two years of full-time service. From 2002-2003, I coordinated community service projects, Spring Break Workfest, and social justice education programs in the SJC Campus Ministry Office through the Maine Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA program. The following year, I was a CapCorps Lay Assistant at Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries in Garrison, New York, where I facilitated a variety of faith-based and leadership retreats for junior high and high school students, led a few service programs with high school and college students, and served as a youth minister for three Catholic parishes.
Seeking a multicultural, progressive, urban experience, I followed my SJC mentors (Erin Swezey, former Community Service Director in the Campus Ministry Office and Tim Leary, former VP of Student Affairs) to Seattle University, where I completed a Master of Arts in Transforming Spirituality with a specialization in Spiritual Direction at the School of Theology and Ministry (STM). STM attracted me because it is an ecumenical school within a Jesuit university whose mission is pursuing a "faith that does justice".
While earning my graduate degree, I also worked at Seattle University as one of the founding staff members of the Center for Service and Community Engagement. As Program Coordinator for Student Leadership through Service, I developed co-curricular service and leadership formation programs for undergraduate students and mentored many students who are passionate about creating a "more just and humane world" through public service.
I served for two years as Residential Minister in an undergraduate residence hall at SU, through which I provided emotional and spiritual support to students and assisted the Resident Assistants with programming. In the Seattle community, I served on the Board of Directors of the Ignatian Spirituality Center (ISC) and supported their work with young adults and people on the margins of society. ISC also invited me to co-preach a nine-day Novena of Grace in March 2008, which was a great honor. I was also invited to lead retreats for alumni of Jesuit institutions in Seattle through Seattle University's office of "Magis: Alumni Committed for Mission".
Seeking to relocate back to the Northeast, I developed an internship with Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center in Westfield, MA. At Genesis, I facilitated a variety of afternoon and evening programs, weekend guided retreats, and longer silent directed retreats. I also offered spiritual direction and healing touch and assisted Genesis with marketing and strategic planning.
As I complete my move back to Southern Maine in 2010, I am seeking ways to weave together all of these various experiences: theological and spiritual formation; ecumenical and interfaith dialogue; public service and leadership on behalf of the common good; experiential education and empowerment of young people; and holistic programs that nurture the whole person to create a more whole community.
My theological and sociological education at Saint Joseph's College of Maine is the foundation for all of my post-graduate work. I found that the Theology courses at Saint Joseph's College fully prepared me for graduate courses such as Hebrew Scriptures, Christian Scriptures, and Christology. I identify Sr. Marilyn Sunderman's senior seminar in Liberation Theologies as a critical turning point that caused me to dismantle, examine, and reintegrate my experiences as a woman within my religion of origin. This "crisis of faith" sent ripples throughout my ministerial life and has enabled me to work effectively with people who find themselves on the margins of the institutional church. Because of this senior seminar, I developed an independent study in graduate school that examined cross-cultural female images of God, and I have considered PhD programs in the areas of Religion, Gender, and Culture or Women's Spirituality.
If I have a few words of advice for current or prospective SJC Theology students, it is this: follow your passion, and create your own education. Utilize the resources of the committed SJC faculty and staff who want to see you thrive. Get involved with the community, through a service program or internship, because the community is one of the best classrooms out there. Study abroad if you can. Open your mind to people of different backgrounds. Find a mentor who you connect with. And don't take yourself too seriously...have fun!