BY ANNA FERGUSON | December 30, 2013
Service. Simplicity. Sustainability. Solidarity. Community. Reflection. Justice.
These are the seven pillars that are at the core of the work my colleagues and I do in the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ). Some of us are on Ignatian Advocacy Teams and participate in advocacy actions like legislative visits and petitioning. Others organize and run our Service & Justice Trips program, which exposes students to real social justice issues and challenges them to change the structures contributing to them. And others, like myself, promote what we do and find ways to engage people in our work.
Each day that I work in the CCSJ I am challenged and inspired by the people I work with. I see adults who have committed themselves to living a faith that does justice, adults who are leaders and work to form college students into “men and women for and with others.”
I witness other college students like myself passionately standing up for justice, raising their voices for change, not settling for mediocrity. Each of them has a different issue that calls for their attention, but each works for the common goal of peace and social justice.
Where does our work begin? Where do we get our passion for what we do? It all flows from an incorporation of the seven pillars into our work. While we come from different religious, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, we all are guided by an agreement to uphold these pillars in what we do.
As 2014 approaches, thoughts of New Year’s Resolutions fill my mind. One in particular energizes me: What if I could seriously integrate some or all of the CCSJ’s pillars into my own personal life?
Here’s what I think that might look like:
Service: Leading a service site through the CCSJ—but not getting paid for it.
Simplicity: Spending intentional time away from my electronics (laptop, cell phone, iPod).
Sustainability: Taking bucket showers (using only a two-gallon bucket of water to bathe with).
Solidarity: Fasting on Fridays (in a healthy way).
Community: Making time each week to eat a meal with friends.
Reflection: Having an hour of silence each day.
Justice: Participating in legislative actions on and off campus.
Even as I type this list, it looks like a hard commitment. However, a few of the pillars go hand in hand, such as simplicity and reflection—I can take a quiet hour away from my electronics to reflect—and service and justice—I’ll have opportunities to engage in both through my work in the office.
Sustainability, solidarity and community, however, will truly challenge me the most. I’ve only ever taken a bucket shower over a weekend trip, never long term. Fasting is something I’ve done throughout Lent, can I really try it every Friday? And how much time do I really have in my busy schedule to get all my friends together for a meal? I guess I’ll find out.
This challenge is all about intentionality and authenticity. I work in an environment where I promote the pillars and help others learn about how they connect to social justice. If I am serious about the work I do, if I believe in the good change that comes from these pillars, than I need to begin authentically and intentionally living them beyond the work place.
It won’t be easy, but I’m up to the challenge—and I’m excited to see how I’ll grow from it. I’ll keep you updated once the journey begins, and you can also follow my progress on Twitter at @AnnaFerguson832. Feel free to email me with suggestions or comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know if you decide to try the Pillar Challenge—or a version of it—for yourself!
Anna Ferguson is a junior studying theology and journalism at Creighton University. She is originally from Wheaton, IL, which is a suburb just West of Chicago, and, yes, a PROUD Cubs fan! The oldest of six girls, she comes from a lively family who instilled in her a desire to serve the less fortunate and learn as much as she can about the world around her. She came into Creighton with the dream of becoming a big reporter one day, but the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, the service trip she attended, the volunteering she participated in, and her theology class convinced her otherwise throughout her freshman year. She couldn’t ignore her passion for service and love for the Catholic faith, so she tacked on a theology major, and dove deeper into service, social justice, and advocacy through her job in the Creighton Center for Service and Justice. Throughout these experiences, she realized that she wanted to use her writing skills for so much more than a big newspaper job. Today, her dream is to be a kind of missionary-journalist, engaging the world in the “gritty reality” around them (to borrow from Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach). (Follow Anna on Twitter @AnnaFeguson832).