|Thomas Faase (Sociology)
By Thomas Faase, Associate Professor of Sociology
A professor cherishes signs of the divine in a place of community
St. Norbert College is a place where goodness happens. The catalyst for that, in my personal experience, is love.
The injunction of our founder, Fr. Bernard Pennings, to “love one another,” is visible and real within our college community. In this brief article, I simply want to illustrate a few instances of how this faculty member experiences signs of love in the day-to-day. God is Love; these signs of love are sparks of the divine.
From time to time, outstanding alumni return to campus to receive one sort of award or another. In their acceptance speeches, they often identify specific teachers who have had a special fond influence upon them. I have been a proud recipient of such comments. I see the affection and pleasure in the eyes of these alums, and I experience God-sparks.
Similarly, every faculty member receives thank-you letters from former students that express the influence we have had, lovingly recalled. I know something good is being built for our world when these thanks are sent.
At a wedding of two former students, as my wife, Debbie (Debbie Faase, Education), and I walked through the receiving line, the bride boldly said to the two of us, “You know this [wedding] was all your fault!” Then in explanation, she said that she had been seeing a man when she took my course in Society, Sex and Marriage.
In that course I say, “The two most important things in the whole world when you are in a courtship are, one, that you prize yourself most highly and, two, that you never settle for a relationship that makes less of you.”
This bride broke up with that guy – who at times made less of her – and found her groom in a wonderful man who always made more of her.
Considering times of distress and sorrow, too, nothing moves me more about my students than those instances when their love for each other, and their care for each other, are abundantly given.
When a student suffers on this campus, other students suffer with him or her. Students hold one another, support one another, love one another – and express that unreservedly when another needs their love.
At times, even parents of another student become surrogate moms or dads for the one who is sorrowing. God’s love and the love of one another clearly blend in the “family” that we encounter at St. Norbert.
I will remember all my life how I experienced God’s love when I returned from an episode of heart trouble and first saw a fellow sociologist in her office. One glance at me and she started to weep tears of relief and affection that I was well and back to work. She cried not only for me, but in relief for my wife and children and all they had been through.
I see divine sparks in the response of the campus groundskeeper, who has been in that job for more than a dozen years and will stop her vehicle when she sees me, to ask how I am doing. She offers her care with such genuine sincerity that I know Bernard Pennings’ injunction is being practiced at that very moment.
God’s love is made palpable every time I walk past Old St. Joseph’s Church. This was the site of our children’s baptisms, First Communions and first reconciliations. It was, and remains, our family’s house of worship. Our beloved pastor even took the trouble to fly to Boulder, Colo., to preside at our son’s wedding.
Once each semester, in that course on Society, Sex and Marriage, my wife comes in as a guest speaker, an “expert” on parenting. The God-sparks I see in that one hour of class are many.
I see the students witnessing the sparks of love I am feeling for Debbie and Debbie is feeling for me. In return, I see lots of sparks of love from the students for the witness of a loving marriage, a vital component of any college course on marriage and the family.
Once in a teacher evaluation, a student said, “You speak to us of many of the worries and pitfalls of marriage and family, but at the same time you witness to us a loving and happy marriage; that gives us courage to go on.”
A four-year education at St. Norbert College is not only a collection of courses, readings, assignments and grades. It is an overall life event.
What I have witnessed among the students throughout my career here, and what I have seen in their growing to maturity, is founded on love. God is present in the events of their education here.
The mission and identity with which the Norbertines have endowed this community are, unsurpassingly, those of a place where goodness happens. There is a dynamic of love that pervades the campus life and learning of this wonderful institution.
|Josh Jones ’10 (center) is this year's student recipient of the Founder's Award.
A common life
By Josh Jones ’10, Vice President of College Relations, Student Government Association
I got my first taste of what communio – a life in common – meant when I came on campus for a tour following a spinal cord injury I suffered the summer after high school graduation. Recently discharged from the hospital and still getting comfortable with my new situation, I’ll admit I was a little self-conscious and nervous about the visit.
But everywhere I went that first afternoon, people were quick to smile. They were not afraid to introduce themselves and ask a few questions about where I was from and why I was on campus.
I felt like I belonged already. I knew I’d found a place I could call home.
Home is where your family is, and as I became a part of the greater St. Norbert family, I soon found myself a member of numerous smaller families, too.
One was that of my social group, ADMAR. The guys helped me meet new people and went out of their way to make sure I could actively participate in whatever they were doing. They built ramps into a handful of campus houses and even provided a shovel brigade to ensure I could make it to the bars on my 21st birthday, in spite of a snowstorm. Quite a few are now alumni, but we keep in touch and it’s always a fun time when they make their way back to campus.
It takes a community to teach communio. You cannot truly understand, embrace and learn the true meaning of this core Norbertine value, expressing a commitment to one another, if you’re not in an environment where you are living and experiencing it.
The experiences we have, we have together. As my senior year rapidly comes to a close and I prepare to leave campus, I do so knowing that, wherever I go, I have the support of my St. Norbert family.
Look here for web-only content that expands on topics presented in the current St. Norbert College Magazine (PDF).
Too 'Old School’ for our own good?
President Tom Kunkel challenges colleges and universities to embrace new ways of delivering higher education.
A new face in the cafe
Steve Pyne (Dining Services), who has Down syndrome, was profiled in this recent article in the student newspaper, the St. Norbert Times.
St. Norbert College Magazine dropped in on a rehearsal for this three-act operetta production, to be staged on campus.
More than a photo
A gallery of images from a trip that connected a child in Kenya with his sponsors in the United States.
A father’s love
Jeff Kratz ’92 offers a unique perspective on a father’s love.
Words from life
The poetry of Ken Zahorski (English, Emeritus) deals with fathers and sons, phases of life and familiar figures remembered across the years.
Gratzia Villarroel (Political Science) speaks with Dean Michael Marsden on international issues and educational opportunities.
Man of property
Joe Jones ’12 sits down with Mike Dauplaise ’84 to discuss an education in entrepreneurism and the launch of Jones’ third business. He is 21 years old.
Dick Bennett on Gary Grzesk
The basketball legend remembers his years presiding over the storied
defensive career of Grzesk, current coach to the Green Knight men.
Your ideas for future magazine stories are most welcome. Write to the editor with any suggestions or comments.
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