June 10-17 saw some 50+ Faculty Fellows gather at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota for a 3-D Collegium summer colloquy after three years of pandemic interruptions. What a week it was: plenaries on Catholic Intellectual Tradition, the Möbius strip that contains both sacramental and prophetic imaginations, and the bracing principles of Catholic Social Teaching framed each day’s agendas. The beating heart of Collegium are the small mentor groups helmed by Collegium alums who facilitate deep, honest conversations among participants from every discipline. In just one week, an assembly of disparate “I’s” transformed into a coherent “We,” formed and informed by a panoply of gifted thinkers, substantive writers, images, music and film, with ample time built into each day to ponder, discuss, and simply be.
The Benedictine hospitality that infuses St. John’s melded with the intentionality of Collegium staff to create space in which faculty and administrators who’ve spent the past 2 ½ years striving to meet the needs of their own disrupted, fractured campuses were themselves cared for and granted a week that was –in words drawn from the Rule of St. Benedict—“always full, but never busy.” Spiritual directors offered portals into a variety of prayer experiences that surprised many familiar only with campus celebrations of Mass. The rhythm of each day ensured that reflection, rest and spiritual nourishment—too often casualties of the relentless pace of academic life—were accorded the same status as intellectual pursuits.
There are no trivial conversations at Collegium, and a vital takeaway noted by many participants was that our vital pursuit of thoughtful DEIJ goals is not only in harmony with, but indeed demanded by the treasure of Catholic Social Teaching, sacramental and prophetic imaginations.
A bittersweet note running throughout the week was the conclusion of visionary Collegium founder Tom Landy’s 30-year leadership. Tears, hugs and fountains of thanks concluded a week that was "a green world" where participants restored themselves and rethought how the world ought to be, so that in the end they can return and renew their own worlds.
Want re-vitalized, committed, happy faculty?
Contact Executive Director Karen Eifler via email at Collegium’s new home, the University of Portland, for more information on Collegium and how to join next year's summer colloquy.
Karen Eifler, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Collegium.
In addition, she is Professor of Education at the University of Portland where she is also the Director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture.