Shared Franciscan Hearts

In this episode, Rocky Pierson shares her conversation with #NCSW2017 mini-grant recipient Emily Dykman. Emily talks about service and ministry, community building, and community outreach during the Viterbo University event, Shared Franciscan Hearts.

Transcript:
Emily Dykman:
This is Emily.

Rocky Pierson:
Hi, Emily. This is Rocky from National Catholic Sisters Week.

[BREAK]

Emily:
I’m Emily Dykman from Viterbo University. And, I’m the chair associate professor of Religious Studies and Viterbo.

The event is called Shared Franciscan Hearts. And, what we have planned is an ice cream social. And, what that, we are also having participants put together hygiene bags that will then be brought to the different homeless shelters in the community. The reason we chose this particular activity as a service project is that the FSPA are a major supporter of some local homelessness initiatives, and it seemed like the perfect sort of catch to connect both the celebration and something active that we could support them in that they are already very much involved in.

[BREAK]

Emily:
I’m really excited because the FSPA have a group within their community called affiliates. They are lay people who have committed themselves to the same value as the sisters but in their everyday lives. Personally, I’ve been an affiliate since 2001. And, this particular event is a way of involving us in both the FSPA and affiliate connection because this an initiative that was started by both the sisters and the affiliates. And so, I got kind of a vested interest in helping support that, having been part of that affiliate community as well. So, it’s a great opportunity. And again, it’s just building these bridges. And, we chose the name Shared Franciscan Hearts because of this whole idea of all of us, Sisters and affiliates and the Viterbo campus, we all are in this relationship together of trying to bring comfort and love and joy into the community, however, we can. So, this is one way of doing that, I think. But, also celebrating the sisters.

[BREAK]

VHS tape stops, fast forward, and starts again.

Rocky:
I just want to ask you a couple of questions to kind of reflect on the event. So, I guess I’ll just start with asking how is went.

Emily:
Oh, it was a great day. We ended up with about, I say, between 75 and maybe 85 or 90 people there. I know we served at least 75 ice cream sundaes. And, it was just a lot of fun. We had a larger student presence than we had last year, which was great. And, a number of faculty and administration from the university were there. And then, a pretty large group of sisters who came right away at the beginning and they stayed almost the whole time. They really enjoyed the conversation and getting to know people who were there.

[BREAK]

We had the group that was also making hygiene bags. There’s an initiative that the Franciscan Sisters started with the Salvation Army in town of putting together these hygiene bags. We ended up making 40 of them. And, it took us all of maybe ten minutes to put them together with the group that was there. So, it was one of those things that was a really neat idea, but people who got there a half hour after it started, they just got to see how pretty the bags looked. [laughs] You know, it didn’t take very long. But, it made a great impact. I think it was about a month’s worth of hygiene bags that the sisters normally end up delivering. So, it was a helpful little project to add onto it.

Emily:
What did you learn or take away from this experience. Well, it’s another reminder of the wonderful active presence the FSPA have in our local community. This project that they have with the hygiene bags makes a significant impact. And, just the gratitude that the women who have been part of that project had to have a group come in and sort of alleviate a good month’s worth of their work. They really appreciated that a lot. So, that’s kind of the major thing, just remembering how wonderful these sisters are for our whole university community and beyond. And, I feel as though, as a whole university people were really excited to have an opportunity just to celebrate and be together and enjoy time. It’s always just a fun afternoon.

[BREAK]

Emily:
The group that was there, most of them were very interested in continuing to help with the homelessness initiative and doing the hygiene bags in the future. My thought is that, that’s just kind of an ongoing project and we could incorporate that in. I liked how we did the service project this year and last year. But, to have something that maybe builds on the hygiene bags. Or, maybe there is another service project that the sisters will be a part of next year that we can add to the event. But, just to continue to make faculty and students and administration on campus aware that this is going on and it’s a really great opportunity to sort of take a step back and remember the gift that the sisters have been to us as an institution. It would be kind of fun to find ways to get specific classes that are happening on campus to be a part of it and have their own contributions throughout the day somehow. I would say that this is the first year that spring break didn’t coincide with the entirety of the national week. So, it was a great timing for us to be able to get students together before they left for break. So, I think really kind of is capitalizing on student’s energy to bring them to the event would be a major part of it for next year.

[BREAK]

Rocky:
Is there something from the event that really sticks out to you?

Emily:
You know, the one thing that really struck me . . . The sisters have a group of lay people called affiliates, and I know different communities have different names for them. But, the one woman that I worked with to organize the event is one of these affiliates. And, I think for me, and it wasn’t necessarily that day, it was all of the time I spent with her leading up to it and it sort of hit me on that day. Her commitment to just human dignity for people throughout our community. It didn’t matter why they needed this hygiene bag or what was going on in their life, what mattered was that they are a person that was in need. So, as we moved forward into the event, just the realization that this value of human dignity has been at the heart of the sisters’ charism from the very beginning. And, to have that reminder on a regular basis of how important people are. I think that she was a good touch point for me to remember the impact that part of their charism has had beyond their religious community. It really does touch the lives of the affiliates, the lives of the sponsored institutions, it touches the lives of people who are served by this outreach that the sisters have had all of these years. Like I say, it was nothing to do with the specifics of a person’s story, it’s the reality that they are a human person, and they have needs, and that need can be filled by the energy and the time and the sacrifice of someone else. I think that was really powerful for me that day. Honestly, we did the 40 bags that we put together and the people that were there, they wanted to do more. It was almost like they wanted to go buy some more supplies so we could keep doing more and more because they felt that commitment to people and helping people where the need really is. I think that is one thing that I can say about it.

About Be Inspired

A podcast chronicling the success stories of National Catholic Sisters Week - an annual celebration of women religious. Each episode will present interviews with NCSW Mini-Grant recipients to present a picture of the celebration's growth and highlight the valuable impacts of women religious all across the country.