Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 13, 2006
Students deal with real life
Field placement in Christian Service puts U of A pupils' faith into action
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"It has allowed me to meet the poor where they live, to know their stories and to write about them."
- Brittney White
"Some of them already have experiences like this," he observed. "It is not new for all, but it is a chance for them to come face to face with what's really happening (in the inner city)."
McDonald said she decided to take the course "to get a better perspective on my faith, to learn more about society, get involved in the community and get to know more people."
She said the experience at the women's shelter and the weekly seminars have helped her realize one of her missions is to bring the love of Jesus to the women.
"I really try to reflect back on the Scriptures when I am at the shelter and now I understand that my presence at the shelter is a lot of what Jesus teaches - that you need to be a presence in the community to really make a difference.
"I guess the first thing I learned is that it's not always about initiating change all the time, but being out in the community and making aware the presence of Jesus."
Being a presence can take a variety of forms.
"If the women at the shelter need somebody to talk to, I am there to listen to them; if they need someone to give them a plate of food I hope to be there to do that," McDonald said.
"But it can also be something as simple as being there to help clean up. They have a lot of different needs."
Three weeks ago, program participants reflected on what it means for Catholics to have a preferential option for the poor.
"We looked at some Scripture passages, including the Exodus and the Old Testament passage about God's special relationship with the widows, the orphans and the refugees - the foreigners," explained McKeon.
"We reflected together a bit on what the Gospel says and on what some theological writers say about God and the poor and the special concern the Church has for reaching out to the poor.
"That got us into discussion of what they see happening in their placement sites; what they are doing, where they feel comfortable, where they feel uncomfortable.
"It's more in one sense to reintroduce themselves to the Scripture; reintroduce them, if they haven't been already, to the elements of Catholic social teaching and, at the same time, to be in a place where these social justice issues are lived everyday and to begin to think about how these come together."
"This is my favourite course," said 20-year-old Brittney White, a third year student who is doing her placement at the Edmonton Street News, a newspaper that focuses on social issues, especially poverty and homelessness.
"It has allowed me to meet the poor where they live, to know their stories and to write about them.
"And in the process, I have experienced a tremendous personal growth."
White went into her placement with a vision to change the world but is quickly realizing that the poor are changing her.
"People evangelize you; you can see Jesus everywhere in the inner city," she observes.
"I really think I'm putting the Gospel of Jesus into practice (through my inner-city placement)."
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