Speaker Series, 2012-2013
the appalachia volunteers program
December 2, 2012
Andrea Vicini, S.J., MD
Associate Professor of Moral Theology, Andrea Vicini, SJ, MD spoke about the healthcare issues and their ethical challenges that might be encountered by APPA volunteers at their sites. He addressed the elements of the context of Appalachia that are important to know, the implications of these elements on health, and how we might deal with the challenges and contexts in an ethical way.
Dr. Vicini focused our awareness on the rural nature and the widespread poverty of Appalachia. High unemployment, low incomes, low rates of literacy, and the sometimes-fatalistic view towards health that is prevalent there were all cited as important features affecting health.
The health disparity between Appalachia and the rest of the US was explained by Dr. Vicini, including higher rates of cancer and hearth disease in Appalachia, less access to specialized healthcare, the detrimental effect of the historical connection to tobacco. The toxicity of air and water that is a result of the industry related to the mountains of Appalachia was also cited.
Dr. Vicini proposed that we might address these health issues by upholding the dignity of the human person. The promotion of the common good was examined through the lens of healthcare, including the preferential option for the poor. Dr. Vicini helped us to understand the importance of promoting social justice and maintaining a firm and persevering solidarity with the poor.
To these ethical ends, Dr. Vicini proposed some practical means. He called us to reaffirm the fact that healthcare is a right, he called us to grow in our understanding and knowledge of healthcare issues affecting the poor, and he called us to educate and empower those who need our help in Appalachia through concrete steps. One such step that he shared with us is the Health Wagon.
To learn more about the Health Wagon, go to: http://www.thehealthwagon.org/
Related themes can be found in Pope John XXIII’s Encyclical Pacem in Terris:
November 18, 2012
Put God’s Love Into Action
Jim Killoran of Habitat for Humanity Westchester County, NY took a short break from Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts to speak to BC APPA on November 18. After Sean Cahill shared his good experience of volunteering with Habitat through APPA, Jim ran through the crowd slapping hands and exhorting students to get on a bus and go re-build in the Rockaways.
Jim described the apocalyptic-like destruction from Hurricane Sandy and used that as a jumping off point to urge us to hit the ground running with service. Jim called service the essence of life and told us how it can embody the Catholic message and mission. He invited us to examine our values in life. Recalling how the events of 9/11 taught us to hate and the 2008 economic-foreclosure crisis taught us about greed, Jim asked us what we would learn from Hurricane Sandy. He expressed his hope that our generation of solutions, spirit, hope, and service would get it right and take life back from hate and greed.
Jim said that he was neither a fool nor a hero for dedicating his life to service, but simply a Christian. He also reminded us that Jesus was a carpenter and that we can emulate him by helping out on a Habitat build. He explained to us the chain of events that can result from service in Habitat. Once a good home is built, people living in it are better able to benefit from education, they become more stable, and they can get a job that helps them get out of poverty.
Jim concluded his time with us by exhorting us to be the generation of service and solutions that ends poverty in our lifetime. He called us to remember that the BC Eagle Spirit is about service to everyone who crosses our path because everyone is important.
To see photos of Jim and Habitat for Humanity Westchester County Sandy cleanup efforts go to: www.habitatwc.org
Habtat for Humanity International website: www.habitat.org
November 4 2012
Did You Wash Your Hands?
As he described the work of Rural Water Ventures to BC APPA on November 4th, Bill McQueeney told us how mothers in rural villages in Nicaragua could now ask their kids if they had washed their hands. This was one way that Bill illustrated the immense health benefits to people who worked with Rural Water Ventures to install spring-fed pipeline-based clean water systems in their village. A BC alumni, Bill was able to tie his efforts in Nicaragua and the work we do in APPA to our Jesuit education that calls us to devote our time, treasure and talent to help others.
Bill made it clear that Rural Water Ventures and BC APPA are kindred spirits because both have the power to transform lives. He outlined some of the ways that it can transform the lives of the beneficiaries of the service, but he also went further and told us how it might transform those of us who are providing the service. Bill spoke of how service can change our character and the flow of our lives and reinforce our values. He suggested that the providers of service might even be transformed to a greater extent than the beneficiaries of a service project.
In addition to the health benefits of clean water, Bill described how the shared labor of a village to build their own system can unleash the power of community for further community betterment projects. He also spoke of how women and girls can especially benefit from the water system. As they are primarily charged with gathering and using the water in a village, when it is more readily available they have more time to devote to such things as education.
Bill left us with the challenge to be the best we could be for others and to remember that, as Alexandra Fuller wrote, acts of transcendent love hang in the air forever.
You can find out more about Rural Water Ventures at: www.ruralwaterventures.org
October 28, 2012
Mario Powell, S.J.
BC alumnus and current Jesuit Scholastic Mario Powell addressed APPA students this week. His comments directed us towards a better understanding of the themes of service and leadership in Catholic Social Teaching. He told us about a high school student who once asked him if it wasn’t enough to just be a good person. Mario responded with a resounding “No!” and went on to explain that we are all called to be holy and especially so to be holy in our service to one another.
Being holy in service to one another means “getting out of the kitchen” sometimes. Mario related a story of helping to serve meals as an undergrad to people suffering with AIDS. One fellow student would not leave the kitchen and sit and eat with the people she was serving. Mario shared the lesson here that we need to move from simply helping people to being present to them. Getting out of the kitchen and into the dining room helped this young woman and Mario to see the importance of sitting down with people in solidarity; talking and sharing with them so you can be a better witness and advocate for them. Mario told us that being holy also involves “going home” from a service experience and recalling the people who you have encountered there and allowing their presence in your life to inform the questions you ask of yourself. Like it did for Mario, this could help you to uncover your true mission in life.
Mario challenged us to take up the lessons of Catholic Social Teaching and allow them to help us move beyond just doing something for someone into living day to day in such a way that we are in service. He showed us how Catholic Social Teaching calls us to live on the two-way street of servant leadership and to be served by those we serve and have our hearts instilled with their stories. Like St. Ignatius, Mario invited us to “set the world on fire” by giving our hearts over to those we serve and being changed by them.
Links related to Mario’s talk:
Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching:
“If You Want Peace, Work For Justice” Message of Pope Paul VI:
October 21, 2012
This weeks meeting allowed us to hear how APPA impacted the lives of four BC APPA alumni. Margaret Nuzzolese BC ’06, Ellen Modica BC ’82 & ’86, Paul Chiozzi BC ’07 and Rob Casilli BC ’12 shared with us how their experiences in APPA have formed them into the people they are today. The common transformative theme in all four experiences was relationships. All four spoke about being impacted by the relationships they developed with people living in poverty and the other BC APPA members they were working with.
Four questions were posted to the panel. The alumni were asked to reflect on their most meaningful moment in APPA. Ellen spoke about people she met who lived in poverty and yet were giving from what little they had to a church benefit and how much that experience enriched her APPA group. Rob described how his worldview changed after just one hour in a migrant population aid warehouse.
When asked to share a memory that illustrates well the APPA mission statement, Margaret recalled the deep sense of solidarity with the poor that she experienced when a member of one of the communities she had served in came and stayed at BC for a week. Paul spoke about how buzzwords of the mission statement such as “marginalized” and “social justice” came alive for him when he began to get involved in service.
All four members of the panel agreed that their APPA experience had guided them to where they were today. All four shared that their current work in campus ministry, Teach for America, higher education and student formation was a direct result of the transformative effect APPA had on them.
When asked to share ideas on how changes affected by APPA can be carried into life after BC, Rob reminded the group of the bonds they were developing with one another in APPA and how those would continue past graduation. Ellen shared how the people in APPA became the kinds of friends she wanted to have and how she currently works with three APPA alumni as a result of this. Paul spoke about how APPA had given him an avenue to explore his social responsibility to the world and Margaret said it showed her that Jesus is on the side of the poor.
October 14, 2012
Marina Pastrana, who directs the Montserrat Coalition here at Boston College, spoke to us about the way that she was transformed by her experience of service while at BC. She also shared how things began to change in her life the more she got involved in BC activities. She spoke of how these experiences prompted her to help create the Montserrat Coalition at BC to ensure that limited financial resources would not prevent any students from participating in these same transformative experiences.
Marina shared how several service trips to Central America and her business ethics coursework caused her to begin to ask questions. Marina asked us those same questions: What brings you joy? What are you good at? What does the world need you to do? She challenged us to question our role in the world around us. Marina invited us to begin to make decisions about our lives based on our answers to these questions and to begin to really live as men and women for others.
Marina reminded us that most of the world is impoverished and most of us at BC are privileged and therefore have the responsibility to understand poverty and make a difference in the lives of those who live in poverty. She quoted Pedro Arrupe, SJ in describing APPA as a way to fall in love with being men and women for others She challenged us to recognize how the people we meet in APPA will change us. Marina asked us where we want to be and showed us how APPA might help to answer that question.
Links associated with Marina's talk:
Pedro Arrupe, SJ Prayer: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/prayers-by-st-ignatius-and-others/fall-in-love/
BC Montserrat Coalition: http://www.bc.edu/offices/mission/montserrat.html
September 30, 2012
Political Science professor Jennie Purnell spoke about the importance of "Whole person service." She reminded us of the "3 Be's" of Jesuit education: Be Attentive, Be Reflective, Be Loving.
Jennie told us that our experiences in Appa will focus our attention and get us out of our comfort zones and that will make us pay attention and become more attentive. She told us that the uncomfortable but pressing questions that we come back from our Appa experience with are the important ones to bring our critical analysis to and to become more reflective about. She challenged us not to settle for easy answers and to connect the passion in our hearts with the reflections in our head. Jennie also asked us to think in terms of charity and justice as we become men and women for others. She helped us to understand that this can happen when we meet others with love, generosity and respect.
Jennie called us to make this more concrete in our own lives by "buying less stuff." She spoke of the way that people around the world are forced into slavery to support the lifestyle we live in the USA. She challenged us to become more aware of this and to become more attentive, reflective and loving in regards to the people who live life this way. Jennie closed her talk by calling everyone to "find something to do that you're passionate about and do it with love."
Links associated with Jennie's talk: