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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

College hosts Landscapes of the Spirit event

On Friday afternoon, Julianne Wallace, Saint Mary’s College vice president for mission, opened the first Landscapes of the Spirit event since before the pandemic with a prayer. The intention of this Landscapes of the Spirit was to highlight “Stories of Hope.”

Landscapes of the Spirit is a Saint Mary’s College tradition that gives a platform to faculty and staff to share their experience of mission at the College, what brought them to their place at the institution, as well as their passions. The event was held in the Stapleton Lounge, as well as being live streamed on Youtube and will have more installations throughout the coming semester. Landscapes of the Spirit is sponsored by Saint Mary’s College Division for Mission.

The first speaker was Nicole Labadie, the director of campus ministry. Labadie worked in ministry for eight years previous to her time at Saint Mary’s, having joined the campus ministry team in October of 2022. 

Originally from Texas, Labadie studied at Saint Edward’s University in Austin for her undergrad. Labadie spoke on her introduction to the Congregation of Holy Cross, their beliefs and how those beliefs impacted her life.

“It was the brothers that first sort of exposed me to the Congregation of Holy Cross, its charism, the way it sees the world and this education impacted me it formed me so deeply and it’s part of the way in which I since then and since that time have continued to see the world,” Labadie said. “The Congregation of Holy Cross helped me to for the first time as a college student see beyond myself, see beyond Texas, beyond our country to our brothers and sisters across the world to care for social justice and to live this sort of radical hospitality.”

Labadie explained the specific affinity she held for Saint Andre Bessette, through her time as an undergraduate. “This very ordinary man who God did extraordinary things through and so he, along with Moreau, have sort of informed a lot of my thinking,” she said. 

After her time at Saint Edward’s, Labadie continued her education at the University of Notre Dame, pursuing a Master’s degree in Divinity. This is where she found a worship community with the Sisters at Our Lady of Loretto. Labadie elaborated on her past experience with worship and Catholic mass as a whole.

“I had always been a Catholic who sort of struggled with the monotony of liturgy and the mass and I have to work sort of really hard to pay attention to the words that are so familiar that we just sort of say from a place of memory. For me, it was worship at Loretto that really helped me experience the liturgy in a new way to really fall in love with it. To see what it means to be a diverse church” Labadie said. 

In her time at Notre Dame, Labadie worked as an assistant rector in Pasquerilla East (PE). She revealed that it was this experience that helped her discern her passions. “It was sort of recognizing the beauty of ministering and accompanying women that led me to pursue campus ministry,” Labadie said. 

She continued to share her journey through working ministry in higher education and elaborated on how she more permanently made South Bend her home and place of work. She went on to explain what Saint Mary’s represents to her. “For me, Saint Mary’s really embodies this understanding of vocation as the place of intersection where our deep Joys meets the world’s deep hunger there is a lot of work to be done but I am hopeful and I am hopeful because of the mission of this place,” Labadie said. 

Wallace shared her story next. Wallace explained how she found a deep-rooted understanding and passion for charism. Having grown up in the Catholic faith and having attended Catholic school, Wallace continued her pursuit of this education at the Washington Theological Union. “This was all well and good until my 27th year of life when I was maturing in age and maturing and wisdom and understanding but not in faith and I found myself at the Washington Theological Union studying theology,” Wallace explained. 

In her explanation of charism, she identified multiple reasons why it is so important to her, such as the aspect of community that charism creates, and the impact of that community. “You need a community to tell your story and to be with you while you are that prophetic witness for the world and the great thing about this community is it’s not those people here in this room it’s not just those people on YouTube it’s the people that have gone before us the stories of those people that we tell now today and it’s also those people down the road that are going to follow us and tell us about their great stories,” Wallace said. 

Wallace also expressed her love for storytelling, and the difference telling stories has on communities and individuals themselves.

“These stories are who we are and inform who will who we will become in the future because identity is not static it is changing so I love storytelling I think that’s one of the things like hanging out with these religious men and women and hearing their stories and hearing the stories of their Founders it just energized me the characteristic of charism that speaks to me the most,” Wallace said. 

Wallace discussed her process of coming to Saint Mary’s College, which was inspired by her interest in institutional vocation.

“I thought I would never go back to school I went to pursue my doctor of ministry and with this focus on understanding the many different vehicles and ways we can use vocation and I ended up writing a doctoral thesis on institutional vocation which brings an understanding beyond the personal where each called to something I wanted to study who are institutions as corporates entities are not corporate as in making the money but as a communal body together who is Saint Mary’s College called to be in this time and place and I actually think Art and Science and the signature experience and all that informs who that will be to we continue so that’s how I ended up as a mission officer,” Wallace explained. 

Similar to Labadie, Wallace also found a place worshiping with Sisters at Our Lady of Loretto, virtually through the pandemic.  

“I instantly felt the radical Hospitality of the Holy Cross tradition like two minutes on to zoom,  it may have had something to do with the pajamas and coffee that I was in on my couch very relaxed but I could just tell I felt most at home in a community more so than any other worshiping Community I’d ever been in,” Wallace described. 

The community, she explained, is what truly brought her to the South Bend area. “I was a member of the Church of Loretto starting in September of 2020 even though I’d never stepped foot in the church and I knew that I needed to end up in South Bend somehow,” Wallace said. 

Wallace ended her Story of Hope with a statement regarding her understanding of purpose in her life. “God has placed us here to do good work together, and I feel that as I look around at the women that I work with on the senior leadership team the executive team, as I look around at all of you here today and as I imagine the wonderful beautiful faces of those who are watching on YouTube, it just seems like each of us has been individually placed here for some definite purpose and that purpose is to empower women and all of those faculty and staff that are around us today to do good things to be that prophetic witness to share in the charism and the hope of Holy Cross,” she concluded. 

The event ended with a brief Q and A session and an invitation to the audience to reflect. Landscapes of the Spirit series continues Thursday, Feb. 9 at 12 p.m., with Stories of Discovery, from speakers Christin Kloski and Patti Sayer, located in Saint Mary’s Stapleton Lounge as well as live-streamed on YouTube.

Contact Cora Haddad at