As the summer vacation approaches, we often think of vacations, beaches, and family reunions. This year, consider adding a faith renewal experience into your summer plans. This edition of Today’s Catholic Teacher provides suggestions for pilgrimages to step out of ourselves and encounter God. Three articles focus on travel and spiritual renewal.
Suzanne Riordan provides suggestions for pilgrimages in her home state of Florida. My family and I had the opportunity to take a family pilgrimage to Orlando’s National Shrine of Mary this past year. Beyond the magnificent 2,000-seat church, our sons were in awe of the open-air chapel and the tranquil paths of the rosary garden. We look forward to future pilgrimages as a family.
Mary Mitchell adds to the conversation in her piece on spiritual getaways. She shares her shift in mindset to the process of experiencing a pilgrimage when traveling alone or with students. My favorite suggestion: “Put away all anxious thoughts.” Such thinking challenges so many of us as we continually run through our daily to-do lists.
Rachel Wilser’s feature article centers on ways travel can recharge your spirit and enrich your lessons. In July 2000, the summer after my first year of teaching, I traveled to Europe and Africa. Immersed in the history I taught back in Massachusetts, I was constantly thinking about how I could bring my learning back to my students. In Morocco, I photographed mosques across the region in anticipation of sharing them with my students during our course on the history of the Middle East. On a more recent trip to Japan, we attended a Buddhist fire ceremony in Koyasan and, later, a traditional matcha tea ceremony in Tokyo.
For my history methods courses at Assumption College, I created travel boxes filled with Japanese artifacts to use with future elementary teachers. The hope is to share how artifacts support young learners in uncovering their assumptions about other cultures and inspire wonder as they learn both the similarities and differences of people around the world.
Rachel Wilser also highlights four steps to successful experiential learning using travel artifacts. If cost limits travel opportunity, the author shares virtual field trip ideas, as well as possible travel grants and exchange opportunities for teachers.
Another possibility for bringing new ideas into your classroom stems from Barb Szyszkiewicz’s article on bringing Catholic authors to schools. Writers enjoy sharing the process for developing a book, including how faith plays its part in their writing. Both our boys have enjoyed face-to-face and Skype author visits at school.
May your summer months be a time of joy and peaceful reflection.
Dr. Lisa D’Souza
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