Speaker pushes beyond the walls of the classroom

By Christy Ross
November 29, 2007

An administrator from Notre Dame University said that Catholic colleges should put the “Catholic” back in Catholic college.

On Thursday, Nov. 15, Reverend William Lies, executive director of University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, spoke to members of the Cabrini community as well as several Notre Dame alumni.

The Hesburgh Lecture, named after the president of Notre Dame in 1983, has been around for over 20 years and is meant to “push the walls of the classroom,” at Catholic college and universities. Lies said that we should “integrate Catholic social traditions throughout the Catholic university curriculum.”

Lies began his speech with a reference to the show “Survivor.” He said how at a young age his father passed away leaving his mother with nine children and one on the way.

“We learned how to ‘survive’ by looking out for each other,” Lies said, “to ‘survive’ difficult times, reach out to others.”

Catholic social teachings has its own primary source of literature but it is not really shared, especially in the classroom. Lies said that far too many Catholics do not adequately understand the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Through the Center for Social Concerns, founded in 1983, students are able to come face-to-face with the poor and spend a day in their shoes. The center believes that students cannot truly appreciate or understand social teachings until they are placed in that particular situation.

A majority of the students who come into the center are not active members of the Catholic religion but want to reach out to others and start to care in ways they did not know they knew how.

The University of Notre Dame students take part in 265,000 hours of community service a year. The center has several different community service programs for the students of Notre Dame to participate in.

Through the “Summer Service Project” retreats are schedules for students to visit all different parts of the United States, as well as some international places in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The students spend eight weeks in their destination and participate in up to 40 hours of community service a week.

Lies concluded his speech by saying that he thinks students from a Catholic college or university think differently than students from another because “Catholic colleges build communities to help them ‘survive’.”

“It is in a community where we find out who we are called to be,” Lies said.

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Christy Ross

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