For me, this is a year of trying many new things. I live in an intentional community with five other women, all of who were strangers to me when we moved in together in August of last year. Now, we all get along pretty well and share a communal budget, food, and car. In striving to live sustainably, we shop at farmers’ markets and co-ops, try to buy mostly local and organic food, eat vegetarian meals, compost, use cloth napkins, make natural cleaners, and try to conserve the natural resources we consume. As a community, we have a house meeting, spirituality night, and community night each week and participate in retreats and trainings around the themes of justice, community, spirituality, and leadership. We each have service sites within the Twin Cities. I serve at Casa de Esperanza, a national Latino domestic violence organization, where I advocate for women who are experiencing domestic violence, serve the Latino community in our information and resource centers, and connect the resources between the family advocates and resource centers. This is all part of my year of service as a St. Joseph Worker in St. Paul, MN. Although this experience is short-term and may seem like a detour from “normal life” for a college graduate, it truly is an integral part of my vocational journey and something I feel called to do.
I decided to enter this year in large part because of my experiences of service, spirituality, justice, leadership, and community at St. Norbert College. Through my participation in the M3C Americorps service year, the TRIPS service trips to Chicago and Rochester, NY, and the service opportunities I led as an ALIVE Team member, I discovered my passion for serving others. During my ALIVE Team experiences and on my service trips with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Rochester, I learned how important it was for me to be able to connect service and spirituality. As an ALIVE Team Intern and Student Coordinator, I developed my style of leadership through mentoring, explored various justice themes, and learned how to participate in and create community. I grew tremendously from these experiences, but I still felt called to dig deeper. I chose to invest an entire year in exploring community, justice, leadership, and spirituality in order to discover how I can live out these values throughout my life.
In my year of service so far, I have discovered ways in which these values will stay with me in my vocational journey beyond this experience. I have incorporated new ways of living simply and sustainably that I will continue practicing in the future. I have learned the kind of communication, patience, and understanding it takes to create a strong, supportive, and respectful community. I am finding out new ways to nourish my spirit through trying out new spiritual practices and meeting with a spiritual mentor. I will better be able to serve the Latino community in America, since I am learning what kind of challenges they face, locating resources that are accessible to them, and improving my Spanish skills daily. I am rejuvenated to teach after this year, since I see education as one of the solutions to many of the injustices in the world. I am taking time to meet with educators one-on-one to discuss how to connect education and justice. Going forth from this year, I see my vocation continuing as a spiritually grounded leader who creates community and teaches justice through modeling and mentoring.
Caitlin Froemming '09