Several years ago, I was inspired by a colleague to think about a service/learning course that would link the classroom to my faith community. Why could I not do the same? I thought we could read Franciscan literature and history and theology and then see how Franciscan spirituality was manifested in the real world. I finally got to launch this course in the Fall on 2012.
I assigned the following readings: Dante’s Paradiso, Bonaventure’s Life of Francis, Leonardo Boff’s Francis a Model of Human Liberation, and the various Rules and Admonitions found in the Western Classics Anthology. I would love to review all of these at a later date. I think our students enjoyed the readings but Dante proved to be a little bit, I don’t know, not so exciting for them. HAHAHHAH!
The projects we undertook were visits to our Wellspring Fraternity, Brookfield Zoo (our roving naturalist Mary H was absolutely fantastic and transformative!), the Transitus, the McQuard Center, and the Good Mourning Program hosted by Rainbow Hospice. I believe they enjoyed all of these tremendously.
All in all, I think I learned a lot. Teaching a subject I thought I knew has been a revelatory experience. I have been transformed deeply by this experience. I learned a lot about Francis, about how our students can be still idealistic, devout and dedicated to a life of faith and the practice of love, about my own shortcomings and how much I have taken for granted. I am very grateful for the opportunity I was given to teach this course.