Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Working with Marian University Students

Last Friday, over 30 students showed up for our first STARR(Students Taking Active Reflective Roles) program of the 2012 Fall Semester. It does my heart good to see our young adults gather weekly to pray, reflect and serve.  It is a source of empowerment for me to see the unselfish desire to "get dirty for a good cause," (quote from a Marian graduate) and learn more about feeding hungry people in Indianapolis.  The energy, commitment, passion that these students bring to service is a sign, to me, of God alive in our world.  I am ever grateful that I have the blessing of working with such as these!  Peace, Jeanne 

Photo Page

Welcome back to Marian University S.T.A.R.R. Be sure to check out the photo link at the top of the page. There will be weekly updates from miscellaneous sites. If you have photos you would like to contribute, see myself or Joe Gehret at any of the S.T.A.R.R. gatherings.

Peace in Christ,

Caleb Ringwald

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Welcome to Poverty

Welcome, one and all, to another exciting semester of Marian University STARR!  For all you returning folk, welcome back, glad to have you.  For all you new folk to STARR, a hearty welcome, and thank you for responding to the call to serve.  Here at STARR, we're committed to the service of fellow man, both here at Marian and the surrounding community, and taking the time to reflect upon those experiences, understanding how they fit into our lives as Christian college students.

The little white lines are pieces of your soul,
forever lost to some bank of servers
at the Facebook headquarters.
 That's where we come in, and by we, I mean STARR blog.  We here at STARR blog understand that we live in a generation of young whippersnappers who like to use the interweb to do practically everything that used to require some form of genuine interaction.  Rather than genuinely talk, we engage in the ever-thrilling Facebook comment war.  We do our shopping on line, our socializing, our planning, our writing, etc.  Heck, even romance, which used to be done by engaging in such ancient customs as conversation, travelling, personal relationship, and self-vulnerability, is now engaged in safe behind the screen of digital glory.  These times sure are a-changing, and the STARR community is willing to change with them.  So, in order to facilitate much of the "reflecting" part of the STARR experience (STARR = Students Taking Active Reflective Roles), we've created STARR blog, using the all-powerful, soul-consuming power of the webbernet (because the word "internet" is sooo passe) to convey some good old fashion reflections on Christian service, Catholic social teaching, and other cool pertinent things.

Starting this year, we here are STARR blog want to spend good chunks reflecting on specific themes.  As our first blog theme this semester, we (and by we, we mean me) decided that the theme of poverty would be a wonderful reflection theme.  Because let's face it, if it weren't for poverty, STARR would be out of a job.  If there wasn't some sort of discrepancy in the world, if there wasn't some need that needed filled, there'd be no reason beyond sentimentality for an organization dedicated to selfless service to exist.  So we have to seek to understand what it is we're fighting.

Luckily for you, Joe's got you covered.  Besides a slew of rambling thoughts on poverty from my own skull, I've consulted with some folks who actually have experience in the realm of poverty, as in missionary work in Haiti, China, Kenya, El Salvador, and Ghana.  As the semester progresses, I will share with you their experiences and thoughts on true poverty, and we'll all learn from their wisdom and experience.

But for know, lets look at poverty on a local level.  Poverty is an important subject.  As long as man has been rich, he has also been poor, and understanding the nature of those two things is crucial to understanding the nature of man himself.  What in us drives us to be so rich, and what in us causes us to be so poor?  The great temptation is to assume that the rich are rich because they deserve to be rich and the poor are poor because they deserve to be poor, and that assisting them in any direct way would only serve to enable them.  While it may be true, this mentality all too often stems, not from concern for the person, but as a justification for our indifference.  Yes, handing money to a homeless person on the street might be patronizing or enabling, but sitting down and talking to him isn't.  Assumptions about poverty are dangerous, not just for the sake of the poor, but for our sake.  When we neglect the poor, either by ignoring them or by writing off our reluctance to aid them as being for their benefit, we risk our own soul.  We deceive ourselves, we somehow come to believe that we're any better than them, that no matter the circumstances, we'd never make the decisions that they have made to get where they are at.  Truthfully, we make them out to be less than human.  And that's wrong.
"What, give him compassion?  Nah, he'd probably spend it on booze anyways." 

So, all things considered, I'd like to make a proposal, I'm going to call it "Welcome to Poverty".  What I want all you awesome peoples to do is to carve a chunk of your time each day and find poverty in your own life.  How are you, like those without money, also poor?  Money is not the only inequality in this world, nor is it the measure of the value of a man.  So, in order to understand poverty, I want all of us to become poor, or rather, to realize that we've always been poor, making us no better than any beggar, panhandler, hobo, or what-have-you.  Think, or even better, pray that you might come to know your own poverty.  Take the time to deprive yourself for the sake of the poor, whether it be money, time, consideration, or (most importantly) pride.  Empty yourself a little bit, so that they might be full.  Step down from society's lofty heights, so that they might look a little taller.  Take the time each day to think, and welcome to Poverty.