“A Theology of Open Doors” explores the integral role the Hispanic Institute of Mundelein College played in the expansion of Hispanic ministry within Chicago and the United States. The Hispanic Institute was created in the late twentieth century following a time when Hispanic identity was typically not welcome in Chicago’s society and Catholic Church. There was a great need for leader in Hispanic ministry that understood the Hispanic Catholic culture and practice. Thus, the work of the work of the institute liberated Hispanics from dependence on the predominantly unaccommodating Catholic Church and gave them the tools to minister to their own community in accordance with their shared Hispanic Catholic identity. Sister Carol Frances Jegen and Sister Dominga Zapata understood the Hispanic struggle and helped the institute rise and commit to the Hispanic community. These efforts are evident in the Hispanic Institute Records in the Women & Leadership Archives of Loyola University Chicago and in the testimony of Dominga Zapata herself. The key legacy the Hispanic Institute left is seen in the students it educated about Hispanic ministry. Students like Deacon Enrique Alonso speak of the influence the institute had on growing Hispanic ministry in Chicago. Ministry was focused on educating the key aspects of the Hispanic Catholic identity: praxis, mestizaje, popular religiosity and oppression. In the end, the Hispanic Institute evolved to embrace an alternative mission. Its education allowed its message to transcend Mundelein College and flow into the Hispanic communities in Chicago.
We got out first draft back! I was incredibly scared to see my papers filled with Xs. Once I finally read through the edits I realized that the comments were made solely to help me improve my writing. But little did I know that I was already taking steps to improve my paper according to the edits I would receive.
In fact, the day after I turned in my draft I continued to research my topic. The way I researched was by conducting an oral interview with the Hispanic Institute graduate, Deacon Enrique Alonso. As I spoke to him, I thought of all of the ways I could improve my paper with his information. He was able to give me a greater perspective into the educational programs of Mundelein College’s Hispanic Institute. Deacon Alonso was incredibly helpful and his information reassured me that my first draft still needed work.
When I got my first draft back with edits, I was so glad that I did not stop researching. One of the main pieces of advice that Amelia gave me was “Make a BOLD argument.” I knew that the Hispanic Institute was an influential program, however I did not know how to turn that into an argument. One of the ways in which I hope to make my argument bolder is by emphasizing the power of the Hispanic Institute to form a bridge between Hispanics and higher education. I am still searching for a way to make the argument a solid and BOLD argument.
This means that I will also have to search for additional information from students that went into higher education with the help of the Hispanic Institute. Thankfully, Deacon Enrique Alonso gave me many names of potential interview subjects. I will search for these alumni that way I can have some examples to add to my paper.
Although I spent most of my week in Cudahy Library, I have finally finished my first draft! To reward myself I spent most of my weekend sleeping and shopping at Target. Why is Target a reward? Let me tell you, not only is Target awesome but also I had to get a new reusable bag because my books destroyed my old one.
Now let me tell you how my Target bag was torn to pieces. After turning in my outline, Professor Nickerson and Amelia reminded me that I needed to include a historiography in my outline. I had not included it because I did not even know what that was! It turns out that a historiography is a history of the history. At this point, I knew the main concepts and origin of Latino/a Theology but that was not enough. So in a short amount of time I had to become an expert on the important literature of Latino/a Theology.
At Cudahy, I checked out a bag full of books by important Latino/a Theology theologians. I read through them and became a Latino Theology literature expert. (It was tough, but I did it!) From that day forward, I would pack my target bag with books in hopes that carrying all these heavy books around would motivate me to finish my draft. I found that I had plenty of motivation but I did not meet my goal of finishing my draft in one sitting because this beast is not one that can be tamed in one day.
So I decided to take it one day at a time. My plan was to cover my historiography one day and the next the historical context section and on and on. This allowed me to not carry as many books around everyday since that day would be dedicated to only one section. This method was great because I not only gave my arms a rest day but also was able to give my full attention to one section.
Writing was definitely not an easy process. Sometimes I had too many ideas and at other times all those ideas disappeared. Sometimes I thought I had to rewrite it all, other time I wanted to just be done. But it was in writing that I realized how much I have learned in the past weeks about my research topic. I also learned a lot about myself. I learned that I work hard when I am passionate about something. My Target bag can attest to that because my hard work came from the books that tore it up. I know there is much room for improvement and I am excited to get some good feedback from Professor Nickerson and Amelia. Wish me luck!
Hello everyone! I am super happy to be writing this blog post because it means that I have finally finished my outline. It definitely needs to/will be modified and changed in the coming weeks, but it feels so good to have all my ideas on paper. I hope you are excited because you are about to tour my journey through the hair pulling, “aha” making, and exhaustingly helpful outline writing train.
If you click on the link above you will be able to see my outline in its entirety. If you have any feedback please send me a message, I would greatly appreciate it!
You know how they say never start writing until you have a plan. Well I thought to myself, I am writing an outline, I do not think I need an outline for my outline. I was completely wrong. This naiveness led me to frustration especially because I did not know how to start. This meant that my ideas would not link perfectly which led me to I to write and erase and write and erase and…you get the idea. When I finally realized that I did need to make an outline for my outline, my train picked up all its frustrated passengers and headed to the next destination.
In the “clarification stop”, I realized that I needed to concretely identify my thesis and the topics that would back up my claim. I sat down and wrote a solid thesis statement (that will most likely change as I get feedback). Now, my argument was on paper. I could visually see the reason behind all the research I had been doing in the past weeks. In writing my thesis, everything else made sense. I was able to write my topics down as well. Once that was all done, I was ready for the next stop.
Once I had the outline of my outline done, I was able to enter all of the sources that I had read for my project. This part was exciting because I was able to thank the Carolina from the past. I thanked myself for looking through sources diligently and making the process of selecting evidence much simpler.
Getting to the final stop on the outline writing train was amazing. I had in front of me the blueprints to my research paper. It was the culmination of my research in one document. I know that there is still a lot of work to get done but I was so proud of my progress. Now I have to transfer to a new train that will take me on a new journey: the “writing of the first draft” train. Wish me luck!
The two-day Revolution of the Heart Symposium was created to honor the life and teachings of Dorothy Day. For those who are unfamiliar with Dorothy Day, she founded the Catholic Worker movement in the 20th century that promoted the works of mercy and advocated for living like Christ. Now, more than thirty years after her passing a large group gathered to praise her teachings. The symposium included talks from those who personally knew Dorothy Day, have researched her, and those that live out her example in Catholic Worker communities.
While I am not an expert on Dorothy Day, I believe it is safe to say she saw the world through a poetic lens. A common theme when reflecting on the life of Dorothy was emphasizing how much she enjoyed reading. Particularly, she loved Fyodor Dostoyevsky and one of her favorite quotes from him was, “The world will be saved by beauty.” Dorothy knew that a beautiful flower cannot stop the world from natural disasters, wars, and other misfortunes. However, she held on to these words because there is a spiritual and metaphorical truth to this language. Beauty is able to motivate and give meaning to a life.
Dorothy loved this quote so much so that it surpassed time and resonated with her granddaughter, Kate Hennessy. Kate Hennessy explained that the reason why she named her book about her grandmother The World Will Be Saved by Beauty is because anytime someone spoke about her book they would be saying a small prayer, “The world will be saved by beauty.” In saying these words the world will not literally be saved of all disaster, but saying these words reassures the soul that there are positive and warm parts to the world.
The words of Dostoyevsky were so important in Dorothy’s life that they resonate with the Catholic Workers that follow her example. During the panel of Catholic Workers, my classmate Amanda asked, “How do you feel beauty has saved the world in your work?” Two stories really really stuck out to me from this question.
The first story was from Molly, a Catholic Worker who explained that being a part of a Catholic Worker is ugly. The ugly parts are for example, being dirty all the time from cleaning muddy animals. However, for Molly, that is not the beauty that will save the world. Molly did not view “beauty” through its literal meaning. Aesthetic beauty means nothing when you find beauty in sitting as a community and just laughing together, truly together.
The second story that reflected on the language of Dostoyevsky was from Frank from the Lombard Catholic Worker. Frank shared the story of his encounter with a homeless man who asked him for money. Instead, Frank bought him a coffee and had a genuine conversation with him. Weeks later, this man visited Frank’s house of hospitality to gift him a ski cap he had knitted himself. Frank explained that although the ski cap was not very fashionable, that gift was where he saw the beauty that will save the world. There was beauty in the man remembering Frank and thanking him for his kindness. That ski cap will not save the world but it does create community. Community creates happiness and true spiritual beauty.
In the end, we see that the world CAN be saved by beauty. Why you ask? Well that is simple, because the beauty Dorothy and the Catholic Workers see is not merely aesthetically pleasing. True beauty is community, love, compassion, service, and most importantly a revolution of the heart.
During winter break, I was able to jump into a rabbit hole of background information on my topic. I learned a lot about the Hispanic community of Chicago and it was incredibly interesting. However, as I start receiving research advice I realize that my winter break research lacked structure. I was simply reading about my topic and anything that could relate to it.
Now I have a better idea of how to structure my research and thus have more relevant and reliable sources. One of the types of sources that I have engaged with in the past couple of weeks has been primary sources. The records of the Hispanic Institute are housed in the Women and Leadership archives, which are conveniently a part of Loyola’s campus! Even though I can easily return to the archives, I have trained myself to take advantage of the time I am there. I went in last week to look through the Hispanic Institute records and I found information in two very unexpected ways.
The first instance that I found very helpful information was when I opened a folder I thought would only have dry financial statements. The folder is titled, “Reports, Budgets, & Donors.” I am not sure why I opened it, but I am glad that I did. As I scoured through the documents I realized that the Hispanic Institute was very detailed in the way they spent their budget. Within every school year’s report, there was a description of the course offered and the name of the instructor who offered the course. I was beyond excited because these documents gave me a list of instructors and the subjects they taught the leaders of the Hispanic community. This way I not only have a list of possible interview subjects, but also an idea of what the Hispanic Institute valued. The purpose of a budget report is meant to be financial but I learned to not categorize a source and rather picture how the information could relate to my topic.
Another instance in the archives in which a primary source gave me great information was when I encountered documents in Spanish. The Hispanic Institute archives had a brochure that must have been handed out to the Hispanic community. The brochure stated, in Spanish, the mission of the Hispanic Institute and the different ways in which it offered opportunities. I was able to see how the Hispanic Institute viewed themselves and their progress. I was also able to use a skill that I take for granted at times: being bilingual. An integral part of the Hispanic Institute is its bilingual and multicultural identity. I am excited that I can continue researching without the obstacle of having sources that have not been translated.
I am excited to continue reading primary sources and to continue my research project. I am proud of the fact that I am not aimlessly wandering through a rabbit hole of information.
Chicago had its first snow day today. I am extremely excited! The season is changing which means that soon I will have an entire winter break to relax and find out more about my Ramonat research topic. I know that sounds nerdy but I am really interested in my topic. Let me tell you why.
As I reflect on the process of choosing a research topic, I cannot help but compare it to the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. Anyone who has not seen Beauty and the Beast stop what you are doing and go watch it right now. Then come back…
Ah you’re back! I hope you loved the movie, I know I did. Anyway, when I first met the Beast (my research project) I was extremely scared. This guy was big, scary and something I had never seen before. Sure, I had encountered other overwhelming research projects but this one was different. This Beast is a semester long research project with a final paper, public presentation and the possibility of publishing. Isn’t that overwhelming? I was completely overwhelmed when the time came to start solidifying our research topic. I struggled because I had so many ideas and I could not focus on one.
So I did what Belle did when she asked all of the talking objects in the castle for help. Since I did not have a live candlestick, I went to my amazing TA, Amelia, and asked her for guidance. I wanted to understand how I should approach this Beast. Thankfully, she has dealt with Beasts of her own so she passed on her knowledge. She told me to look at different archives and explore anything that could relate to my interests. I needed to approach the Beast because if I did not I would never find my topic.
I started exploring archives all over the Internet. I found really interesting archives but I did not connect with any until I remembered the visit I took with my class to Loyola’s Women and Leadership archives. My memory vaguely saw a box that said something about Hispanics. I thought to myself, I want to do something with Hispanic social justice in Chicago, might as well see if my memory serves me well. Thankfully, I found an archive named the Hispanic Institute. I began to read about it and I really liked it. The Hispanic Institute was a program that began in Mundelein College. The mission of the program was to provide pastoral ministry education to Hispanics in Chicago. I finally found a way to approach the Beast. I would research how the Hispanic Institute promoted social justice to the Hispanic community in 20th century Chicago.
I am still getting to know the Beast but I am no longer scared of him instead I am excited to learn more about him. So far I have learned bits about it. For example, I found influential people who graduated from the Hispanic Institute: Deacon Enrique Alonso, Sister Dominga Zapata and Mrs. Angelina Marquez. Each one of these graduates put their Hispanic Institute education to work as seen in their dedication to Hispanic ministry. Soon I will get to know more about their work and how they have promoted social justice thanks to the Hispanic Institute of Mundelein College.
I know the next six months will be challenging but I am excited to get to know the Beast. I cannot wait for the moment that everything comes together and the Beast turns into the handsome prince or in this case a remarkable final paper and presentation.
The lecture given by Randal Jelks really resonated with me. Jelks explained that his research topic (“The Role of Roman Catholicism in the Inner Lives of Ethel Waters, Mary Lou Williams, and Eldridge Cleaver”) was so central to his persona. For example, he grew up during the time period he is researching. Also, he is comfortable researching people who are not a part of his faith background because he grew up experiencing different religions. Thanks to his previous knowledge, he was able to thoroughly analyze the sources he read. He did not simply accept the information written by theorists on religious experience because he had experiences that encouraged him to question those theorists and create his own argument. He was able to use his experience to be curious and seek the information he believes would support his argument. The fact that his experience impacted his research effectively made me contemplate researching something that is central to my identity.
I grew up around many Mexican-Americans. I did not really realize that being Mexican-American is neither the same as being Mexican nor the same as being American. For me, it meant owning both identities but at the same time having neither. This confusing limbo can feel very lonely at times, but that is precisely why I want to base my research on the injustices Mexican-Americans have faced. That way I can learn more about the people I identify with and demonstrate the research from my perspective. I know that I am not an expert in Mexican-American history but I have a unique knowledge about the subject because my life has revolved around it.
Jelks explained that his previous knowledge led him to a different research approach. Jelks used music, novels, and many alternative sources to research/support his claim. I enjoy knowing that I could research using some nontraditional sources. This is especially reassuring because I am not 100% sure what I want to research.
This uncertainty comes from the words my professor, Dr. Nickerson, shared. She said something along the lines of: you do not grow when an experience is easy. I definitely am not saying that researching social justice in Mexican-American communities will be a walk in the park. What I am saying is that I am also interested in various other research projects in which I have little to no expert knowledge. Which is why I have asked myself, do I want to dig deeper into a familiar subject or explore an entirely new concept. The lecture inspired many questions for myself about my project. Now I have to start answering them. I’m off to research… wish me luck!
When I think of the Catholic Worker Movement, I think of social activism in which people are fighting poverty, violence, and injustices all within community. This is the mentality I had going into the White Rose Catholic Worker farm in La Plata, Missouri. I thought my classmates and I were going to be staying at a farm, which was a part of a large community. I expected that the farm would be near a poverty stricken area, which the catholic worker community helped as a part of their mission. We arrived when the sun had set and nothing could be seen without a flashlight or candle made of bees wax. Because of the darkness, I was not able to see the other farms of the community and poor neighborhood that I was expecting. The next morning when we were given our tasks for the day I was surprised that we were not helping the poor of the community and what struck me more was that there was not a poverty stricken town or a larger Catholic worker community. The Catholic worker community was just our hosts: John, Regina and their daughter, Johanna. I soon discovered that White Rose has a different approach to the Catholic Worker ideals of fighting poverty, violence and injustice.
White Rose is a truly intentional community because everything they do has a meaning. I was amazed that the way they fight poverty is by living a voluntary life of poverty. They do not have a steady income. Their meals come from what they grow and any donations they receive. They pretty much live off the land. What struck me about this is that they will never truly live a life of poverty. John and Regina have degrees in higher education. They have the opportunity to strive if they decide to leave their farm but most people in poverty do not have that option. Instead of helping the poor have options, White Rose lives this simpler life; a life that is in unity with the poor.
It was also unexpected that they fight violence and injustice by seeing how every action they take can be violent or encourage injustice. For example, they do not participate in elections. They would much rather vote for no one than vote for someone who could begin a war and thus their vote is in support of a violent war. Another aspect of their life that really resonated with me was when John told us the reasoning behind not using cellphones, laptops and any other form of technology. John told us that technology is created with very precious metals that are mined by people who are paid very low amounts and work in very dangerous and brutal conditions. The White Rose members do not believe in using technology because buying that product is supporting the mistreatment of the earth and the miners. They do not want their actions to be tied to promoting injustice.
The White Rose members’ beliefs promote social activism and Catholic values effectively but not in a way I am used to. I associate Catholic social activism with going into communities and promoting change. I think of the Catholic Workers who fought violence by burning draft cards and of the Jesuits whose schools promote being men and women for others who go forth and set the world on fire. For me, Catholic social activism is a more international ideology that advocates for the well being of all. This global idea I have of the Catholic Church began because of the Jesuits. Professor John McGreevy, author of American Jesuits and the World, spoke to us about the internationalization of the Catholic Church when he mentioned that the Jesuits spread all over the world to promote Catholicism. As the Jesuits spread into different countries they became a very international and cosmopolitan group in a world that was becoming very nationalistic. This ideology is present today in that the Pope advocates for the lives of all, not just the people in his country. Because of the Jesuit’s international stance, I have associated social activism with traveling to other countries to stop an injustice or training in a Jesuit institution to later go into the community and stimulate change. I always thought of social activism as a big community oriented practice that hoped for justice for all not just personal development.
Although White Rose has a different way of approaching social activism it is still lighting the world on fire. They promote being aware of how our actions affect our values. They lit my world on fire by creating a very thought provoking experience. My time at White Rose helped me reflect: would I be willing to give up all of the time I have spent studying and my intentions of advocating for social activism to live a simpler life; a life in which everything I do is modified to match my deepest values? It is a tough question to reflect on and I do not think I have an answer. However, I do know that I admire John and Regina immensely for being courageous and dedicating to a very radical life style. I learned that although I do not plan on living my values exactly as they do I do wish to keep in mind their ideology of seeing how my actions go against my beliefs indirectly. For example, instead of giving up technology I could recycle my cell phones and inform others of the importance of recycling unused technology. What I take away the most from the White Rose’s different approach to living out their Catholic Worker values is to be aware of the consequences our actions cause. I would most likely advocate for social activism in the traditional way by reaching out to communities but by also include the White Rose’s ideology into my life I could make my mission more intentional and personal.
History can only be understood when one puts one’s self in the shoes of the people in that location and time period. Presently, we comprehend each other because we understand the norms and cultures in the twenty first century. For example, you would most likely understand why those who appreciate personal space relinquish that right at a concert in which everyone is immensely close. We think this as normal in a concert venue because everyone there loves the music and is willing to be crowded together in this place. We also understand that hundreds of people wait in line for hours in the cold, snowy, winter on a Black Friday night in order to get “amazing” deals. These lines are not typical in everyday shopping sprees but they are acceptable at this time and space because it is the day of immense savings. What I am trying to get at here is to put into perspective the importance of space and place when we analyze history. It seems unbelievable that 150 years ago people from all over the world would travel long hours to see hogs, sheep, and cows slaughtered in front of their eyes. But during this time, this act was not only acceptable it was also immensely popular.
In the turn of the twentieth century, many Americans, important politicians, and wealthy businessmen traveled to the south side of Chicago to see the amazing Union Stock Yards and Packingtown. The stockyards were the mecca of the meat industry. They began shortly after the Civil War on Christmas day of 1865. I can only imagine what it must have been like during this time. The Civil War created a very broken country. People must have been traumatized by the war and fearful of how the country would advance with all the change occurring. However, the stockyards gave people hope that the country was advancing and that the economic future would be prosperous. This was an important time in American history because it was the start of industrial jobs. People no longer had to spend hours doing a task that could be done more swiftly and resourcefully using a machine. People were amazed to see many animals slaughtered in the time it would take a laborer to kill only one animal. The stockyards were one square mile of the meat industry culture which meant being surrounded by animals and factories and salesmen and buyers and tours and everything that made the new industry so interesting and innovative. Touring the stockyards was praised during this time because this area revolved around an awe inspiring industry and its benefits to the country. The stockyards were a place of hope and excitement for the future, which is why it was normal for families to travel to this amazing place and see animals be slaughtered in front of them.