APPALACHIA SEMINAR

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BY BRITTANY BENNINGER, NEW YORK, NY, ECONOMICS, CLASS OF 2019

Catholic social teaching (CST) has given me the language and mindset through which to take in and digest my experiences on Center for Social Concerns seminars. Framing my week as a challenge to see human dignity in new ways has always been incredibly rewarding—I see connections where I didn’t imagine they could be and see compassion at play in ways I couldn’t imagine.

Care for creation has been especially important in the seminars I’ve participated in as my groups experienced the pillar in a way they hadn’t ever before. When in the beautiful landscapes of Appalachia, it is hard to detach oneself from our collective responsibility to conserve the natural goodness all around us. Our call to family, community, and participation shines through in a seminar week. Everyone is called to voice their view on what has happened and share why they see the experience in such a way; as a family, we call each other to uphold that person and their story; as a community, we are called to think about this family and how to act justly in the world with this shared background.

Catholic social teaching, most importantly, asks us to think of the most marginalized and how we may be with them. It asks us to be humble learners from those we have much to learn from, even if the dominant narrative argues the opposite. It asks us to push ourselves to be there for others, to try being uncomfortable to give others comfort. CST reminds me that in giving we receive: whether it be a new perspective on a social justice issue, a new list of books and people to learn from, or a new way to show others compassion in your everyday life, serving others gives to you.

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