Category Archives: Travel

The Synod – Conclusion

Written by Rick Squier, UCAP student

     Our visit to the Synod was a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness how the church is attempting to reunite culture and doctrine. Reading the interviews of Cardinals and Bishops online, and then actually meeting some of them, and talking to them about their words was surreal. In addition to the prelates of the synod, Father and I were also introduced to authors, reporters, and theologians who are significant leaders in Catholic circles. All of the people we met, whether their position is to report for the church, or elect the successor of Peter, they were very gracious with their time and words.


     As we heard varying points of view on how the church will recognize different relationships, it gives hope that there is an openness to those the various situations. Some bishops called for minimal change, while others were suggesting a significant shift from the way we recognize familial situations. Even though there isn’t consistency amongst all bishops, the fact that this Synod was formed to address issues of inclusion, shows that there is a genuine attempt to grow the church. This process gives hope for the future of the church and how it recognizes the message of Christ.

     Our Synod experience was only possible because of Bishop Murry’s invitation to spend time with him in the second week of the Synod. From unfettered access to areas of the St. Peter’s Basilica, and Vatican, to introductions to high-level decision makers of the church, this experience was only possible because of the bisjop of Youngstown . The entire experience was humbling as this Director of Faith Formation from a parish in Ohio, had the opportunity to meet leaders of the Catholic Church from around the world. Who knows what God has in store for us?

Synod on the Family, Part 2

By Rick Squier

Bishop Murry said that the Pope has been at all of the general sessions of the Synod, and was surprised in how approachable he is. He said the Pope attends the mid-session coffee breaks the same as everybody else. Bishop Murry said that several times he would be having coffee, look up, and there was the Pope wandering through the room. The image is one that the Bishop happily shared with us.

Bishop Murray and Pope Francis

Wednesday was certainly memorable. Father and I met Bishop Murry in the morning and got a private tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. It is an incredible place to wander through when it’s empty. We then celebrated Mass in the Clementine Chapel in the Necropolis, below the Basilica. The Clementine Chapel is the closest chapel to the burial chamber of St. Peter. The holiness of the space gave the prayers for our parish families a deeper emotional effect for me.

The Clementine Chapel

During a break at the Synod, Bishop Murry gave Father and I a tour of the North American Pontifical College. From the roof of the facility, we saw what must be the best view of Rome.
I can’t imagine having a better tour guide of any of the locations we visited.

Please pray for the Synod Fathers, and the direction they take the church

An Ursuline Student at the Synod of the Family

Rick Squier, a student in UCAP, is on a fabulous adventure to the Vatican this week as a guest of Father Ferraro, an attendee to the Synod of the Family. Follow along here as we get more information about his daily adventures. Here’s the first installment, from Monday, October 12:

After an uneventful, but very long flight to Rome, Father Ferraro and I found that our luggage ended up in Germany instead of Rome. Moments like this make you realize that the toothbrush and underwear in your luggage may have been a better choice for your carryon than the four bike magazines, and textbooks that you lugged through three airports. But, we are in Rome, and wearing the same clothes for more than two days means little in comparison to IMG_3658witnessing the potential that presents itself to the church with the Synod on the Family.

Monday was a spectacularly beautifully sunny day in Rome.  We saw Bishops from all over the world wandering around the Vatican area as we made our first pass through St. Peter Square. We met Bishop Murry, and in talking to him it is quite apparent why he was asked to be a Synod Father. He has such a wonderfully pastoral sense, and understanding about what it means to be a family, and the blessings and challenges that come with it. Bishop Murry addressed the synod on Saturday, in what they refer to as an intervention. The three minute intervention offers each of the 268 bishops of the Synod, an opportunity to present their view on the blessing and challenges for today’s families. Bishop Murry said that the text of his intervention will be posted on the diocesan website in the next couple days, when it is we will copy it onto our site (St. Joan of Arc Church, Streetsboro, OH) as well.


About the Synod on the Family: This meeting, formally called the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, is taking place in the Vatican from October 4, 2015 through October 25, 2015. This year, the Synod is focused on the vocation and mission of the family in both the Church and the world.


Counseling and Art Therapy students go to South Dakota on service learning trip

Written by Katherine Jackson, assistant professor, Counseling and Art Therapy department

photo 8From June 21 – 27, 2015, graduate students, alumnae, one undergraduate student, a few community members and three faculty members journeyed to Eagle Butte, South Dakota, to work with Lakota Sioux youth at the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) which is located on the Cheyenne River Native American Reservation.

Graduate students in the Counseling and Art Therapy program had suggested about a year ago that we do a service learning trip with impoverished and at risk populations in our own country, and we discovered a wonderful opportunity at Cheyenne River Youth Project. CRYP was founded in the 1980s to help give youth and teens a place to congregate where they could enjoy healthy snacks, activities and socialize. CRYP was a big success from the start, and soon after opening they were able to secure grants and funding to build a new center that could accommodate almost all of the youth in and around the Eagle Butte area. At present, CRYP serves hundreds of children, providing sports, art, tutoring, a youth run coffee shop, a sustainable organic garden, a graffiti art park and a healthy eating program which offers whole food meals every evening for any child in the community.

The Coordinator of Volunteer Service, Tammy Eagle Hunter, explained the philosophy at CRYP, which is “Don’t feel sorry for us and try to help, but rather join with us and together we will make things better.” This statement, although simple, sums up the attitude at CRYP. Everyone is encouraged to help side-by-side with the Lakota Sioux to maintain the community, work with the kids and pitch in wherever needed.

While we were there, we workphoto 4ed on cleaning, landscaping, gardening and organizing the center in the morning. In the afternoons, 30-40 youth arrived to participate in art therapy, nature activities, games, yoga and loving care from the Ursuline group. We provided support, care and lots of fun. Not only did the kids get to do art therapy and create many beautiful art creations, but they got their first taste of yoga. Yoga was a hit with many of the kids because it was so different than anything they had ever experienced.

While we were at the center, we learned first hand how alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, low socioeconomic status and poor dietary habits affect this vulnerable population. Many of the children got their only meal of the day at the CRYP center and endured parental neglect and abuse at home. Despite these hardships, the resiliency of these Lakota Sioux children is remarkable. The children embraced us with open arms and hearts, and we found a welcome home away from home at the center and in the reservation.

photo 13

We were fortunate enough to have a Lakota artisan, a bead worker, and a native storyteller and dancer work with us for an afternoon. We learned that the Lakota language is an oral language and thus is almost extinct. The Lakota people are attempting to put the language in written form to help preserve it and also to maintain important Lakota traditions. For example, in Lakota there is no word that means war, and this peaceful tradition is built right into rituals and community gatherings. Most quarrels are handled by compromise, with harmony being a prized value in the population.

One week did not seem like enough time to fully visit and get to know the people at the CRYP center and on the Cheyenne River Reservation. We are hopeful that we can return next year and make it an annual service learning trip to help the Lakota Sioux youth and continue to forge and build relationships with both the CRYP and the Cheyenne River Reservation.


January 2015: alumnae India immersion experience

indiaExperience India with International Partners in Mission (IPM) on this small group tour, designed for 10-20 participants for approximately 10-12 days. IPM’s Immersion Experiences are short-term travel opportunities where participants learn firsthand from IPM Project Partners in India, including alumna Karen Hanson ’08 organization Girls for the World. IPM offers Immersion Experiences to build cross-cultural relationships so that participants can gain a greater understanding of the global realities of poverty and injustice.

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Sneak peek >> Summer 2014 Issue


#COMINGSOON In the Summer 2014 issue of VOICES Magazine, find a beautiful photo essay from a recent alumnae trip to Italy by Director of Alumnae Relations Tiffany Mushrush Mentzer ’03.

Art Therapy and Counseling in Ecuador: adios amigos!


Friday (March 14) was our last day working at ISPED Manuela Canizares elementary school in Quito, Ecuador. The day began with a special show performed by the children to thank us for working with them – and to say goodbye. The children dressed in animal costumes and sang simple songs in English on our behalf – mice, monkeys, tigers and cats lined the stage. There wasn’t a dry eye among us; we were so touched by the thoughtful gesture and the adorable kids.

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Art Therapy and Counseling in Ecuador: learning through service

ecuador school mosaic_with_text

We were all excited to work again (March 13) with the children at ISPED Manuela Canizares elementary school in Quito. Today’s groups consisted of fourth, fifth and sixth grade students, as well as one group of cute four-year-olds! Our group is really hitting its stride now. Our Spanish is improving and the children all know us by name. The children are very creative and so sweet. We are starting to feel sad to leave have to leave in two days.

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Art Therapy and Counseling in Otavalo, Ecuador: the Andes, roses and cowboys

Otavalo mosaic

Otavalo is two hours north of Quito, high in the Andes mountains. It is located just off the pan American highway that goes straight to Columbia, which is three hours east of Otavalo. The Otavalo people are one of the largest indigenous groups living in Ecuador. They are known for their handicrafts, textiles and fabrics, leather goods, coffee, chocolate and roses. There are rose gardens and greenhouses that line the road and flowers are for sale everywhere! Roses are so abundant in Otavalo that the locals can buy a dozen roses for one dollar. The flowers are big business and are shipped daily to the United States, Europe and China. In fact, roses are so important to the Ecuadorians that there is a special room at the airport just to store the roses before they are shipped out!

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Art Therapy and Counseling in Ecuador: working with street children, dealing with altitude sickness

street children mosaic ecuador

We woke up bright and early today (March 11) to journey to the school we are working at to began our work with the children. First, second and third graders were on today’s agenda. We played games and engaged them in projects such as making animal masks, crowns and a paper fish tank.

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