On Wednesday, the Saint Mary’s Center for Spirituality's Real Life Project held its first meeting for the 2015-2016 academic school year.
Michelle Egan, associate director of the Center for Spirituality, said the Real Life Project began as a Student Independent Study and Research (SISTAR) project in 2007 and now takes place once a year, usually during the fall semester.
“The Center for Spirituality subsidized the Real Life Project in 2008-2009 as a pilot, and [it] was met with such positive evaluations that it was incorporated into the Center's regular programming,” Egan said.
According to the Saint Mary’s website, the Real Life Project provides “students and faculty the chance to talk together about how to connect all the parts of [their] lives in a meaningful way.”
Egan said participants must attend all four meetings, which occur over dinner with a small group of faculty facilitators. At these meetings, the faculty aids students in discovering how to balance their daily lives with fulfilling their calling.
“The central focus of Real Life is to explore the notion of vocation on many levels, deepening students' understandings of both vocation, or life calling, and the discernment process,” she said.
According to the Saint Mary’s website, students complete readings and reflections to help prepare themselves for the discussions to come.
“All participants share the experience of making major life decisions, plus they discuss the challenges of integrating all aspects of life as they pursue their goals and dreams,” Egan said.
Egan said that after listening to guest speakers, reading, reflecting and having discussions with faculty, students have a better understanding of the role of theology.
“Students come to a better understanding of the process of thoughtful, prayerful decision making, and they develop a broad definition of gifts or passions,” she said. “They also leave with a better understanding of how their ‘passions’ can respond to the needs of the world.”
Students often enjoy the program so much that they are not ready for it to end, Egan said.
According to the Saint Mary’s website, a Saint Mary’s student said, “My Real Life experiences have helped me to realize that discernment is a lifelong process and that my path might zig-zag and change directions a number of times during my adult life. I remind myself that I will know what choice is right for me when it feels right.”