Case Study of a Catholic College Workshop: Learning to Lead with Love

Kayla Altman

Caritas theology is the real world application of love and charity. In the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, faith must be lived as an element of the holistic education of the person.

Catholic universities and colleges across the nation provide students with unique opportunities to not only get their degree, but to incorporate the caritas theology into their studies.

Case Study: Brescia University

A living testament of this is the Caritas Leadership Workshop Series “Learning to Lead with Love” at Brescia University in Western Kentucky. This program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop their own leadership abilities, explore leadership opportunities on campus, and envision ways in which they can be leaders in their communities by embracing the ideals of Caritas theology and leading because of the love they have for others. The program includes sessions on a wide variety of topics including personality assessments, faith, diversity, and conflict resolution.

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The Caritas program teach students to recognize need, suffering, and social injustice in our world, and to act not because their actions will change the world, but because Caritas inspires hope where there is none. In this fashion Caritas is different from social justice programs at other colleges; it recognize that only God’s love can change the world, but our part is to show God’s love to others in spite of pain, suffering, and need in our world.

Education Through Workshops and Travel

The “Learning to Lead with Love” Workshop Series at Brescia University culminates with a service/pilgrimage experience to Honduras with the organization Water with Blessings (WWB). Founded by Brescia alumnus Sr. Larraine Lauter, OSU, Water with Blessings is a non-profit organization which seeks to equip and empower mothers living in marginal communities to become agents of clean water and compassion in their community. WWB equips mothers with water filtration systems and empowers them to bring clean water to their families and communities. Participants in the Caritas program spend eight days in Honduras working and praying with women in their communities, putting into action loving leadership and service.

Brescia University began offering this program March 7, 2016, and participants attend two sessions a week on Monday and Friday. Beginning in the fall, the program will be available to on-ground and online students who attend Brescia University. Currently the program is not offered for academic credit, however, with the development of the series the option to allow the workshop series to count towards a student’s Catholic education will be an option. Students receive a certificate of training and are recognized at the Honors Convocation in May.
There are twelve total required sessions, including opening and closing sessions, supplemental sessions and a service project. Session topics include:

  • What is Caritas?
  • Discovering Your Leadership Style
  • Leading Through Your Faith
  • Working Together
  • Setting Goals and Time Management
  • Multicultural Leadership
  • Leadership After Graduation
  • Leadership 101
  • Event Planning Basics
  • Authenticity and Leadership
  • Conflict Resolution

This program is unique to Brescia University and is currently in its pilot semester.

Inspired by a Catholic Saint’s Way of Life

It is a living testament to the University’s devotion to servant leadership, inspired by Saint Angela Merici who founded the Ursuline Sisters. Saint Angela attracted people from all walks of life; rich and poor, nobility and common folk, learned and uneducated. She is often noted for her hospitality, her healthy sense of self in relationship to God and others, her contemplative spirit while being involved in the world, and her ability to be a reconciler and peacemaker. This idea of a caritas life is one that Brescia University seeks to instill in their students, faculty, staff and alumni.

As Western Kentucky’s only Catholic college, Brescia University shares in the teaching mission of Christ by helping students realize their God-given potential, as many of the Catholic Colleges of Distinction do. Grounded in the Ursuline tradition, the University’s mission calls for educating students in mind, body, and spirit. Brescia University educates the mind through challenging academics rooted in the liberal arts and Catholic intellectual tradition; the body through championship athletics and campus wellness programs; and the spirit through access to campus ministry, the study of theology, and service-oriented extracurricular activities such as our annual Alternative Spring Break.

At Brescia, education is about more than a diploma; it is about making a difference – the Brescia Difference. This means making a difference in the lives of students by providing access to affordable, high-quality education so they can pursue meaningful careers and fulfilling personal lives. It means making a difference in the community by nurturing and promoting the value of servant leadership in students who participate in numerous volunteer and service-learning opportunities. Those students become Brescia University alumni who lead generous lives of service in their own communities as teachers, social workers, counselors, healthcare workers, business leaders, and civil servants and a living testament to what Caritas truly is.