Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Jesuit Martyrs of the UCA

jesuit-martyrs-poster-draft-2-2A Reflection by Loriana Harkey

On Sunday, November 16, Creighton University hosted a Salvadoran dinner and film to inform and honor the Jesuits martyred in 1989 during the war in El Salvador. Before the film, everyone was provided a homemade Salvadoran meal by a family who owns a local restaurant here in Omaha that consisted of pupusas and tamales. The film focused specifically on the six martyred Jesuits, the housekeeper and her daughter. The Jesuits saw their mission as converting Salvadorans to become Europeans Catholics, but upon arriving and experiencing El Salvador and the people they found a new mission: to unify faith in God with justice for the people. During this time of war, the church did its best to help and support the people. Unfortunately, the church suffered the same destiny as the poor.

Oscar Romero, a well-known bishop of the Catholic Church in El Salvador who was assassinated while giving mass, said earlier in his life that he did not fear death. He believed that if he died, he would be resurrected in the people. It takes a brave person to stay in a position of authority in the face of danger. The same goes for the martyred Jesuits. Many others fled and went into hiding when they heard that people were being killed, but these Jesuits held their ground. They had not done anything wrong and had nothing to hide, so they felt there was no need to leave. This is similar to Jean Donovan’s theory, an young American adult volunteer who was killed in El Salvador along with three Salvadoran nuns. She knew it was dangerous to go back to El Salvador, but she had to go back. She felt the need in her heart. In 1990, many Salvadoran students joined the military academy to help their country fight the communists, especially since the university was a definite target of the communists. They’d sing chants full of specific threats or “goals” such as, “We’re ready to kill heaps of terrorists.” Needless to say, peace wasn’t easy.

One point brought up in my psychology class was the fact that to punish people who kill people, we kill those people. It seems a bit backwards and odd. Some may justify this by saying that if you kill the killers, than they will no longer be. But then what does that make you? A killer? Or a peacemaker? A war was definitely not wanted by everyone. Though wars are hoped to end in peace, many realized that at the end of this war, there would no longer be suffering, but instead there would be something worse: death.

One student in particular named Espinoza came to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to be trained to fight in the conflict. The U.S. spent a total of $15 million under the Reagan Administration on the El Salvador war to help the people fight the guerrillas who were against the Salvadoran government. The methods these newly trained soldiers used on the FMLN guerrillas were cruel. They burned their already dead bodies and shouted phrases like “May Buddha keep you company in hell.” It is understood why these soldiers were so upset by these rebels, but they seemed to have been using just as cruel methods to fight back as had been used on them. Unfortunately, a group of these U.S. trained soldiers were responsible for death of the Jesuit martyrs. Espinoza was a witness to the murders of the Jesuits. He remembers the men being ordered to tell the Jesuits to come out onto the front lawn. They were then ordered to murder them. They were given specific orders as we find out that the Jesuits were purposefully shot in the head as if toMartyrs-Prayer-Card-Back-copy-772x1030 shoot out the brain or the control center of these Jesuits, as Jon Cortina explained. Cortina was good friends with the Jesuit martyrs. In fact, he lived with them. By the grace of God, he was not murdered because he was out of town during this tragic event. Knowing this makes it all the more special to be a part of the Cortina Community, a group of students who strives to live in Cortina and the other Jesuits’ footsteps by giving back to the community through service and social justice. The two women, the housekeeper and her daughter, were also killed, perhaps so there would be no surviving witnesses. They were brutally shot and died holding each other on the kitchen floor.

After the film and during discussion, one audience member shared her vision with us. She asked us, “Where does our faith meet reality?” It is great to talk about all of these injustices, but what are we going to do about it? She believes that in all of the classes we take, we need to think about the poorest of the poor and what we can do to help them, even if it is just a math class. Though this vision would not be easy to accomplish, we have to remember that peace isn’t easy. It is an incredible thing to know that we still honor the UCA/Jesuit Martyrs in 2014.

Mapping Arguments in Our Community

While we often think about words making an argument, spaces and places make arguments too. For example, neighborhoods make arguments about the values of the people that live there and public parks make arguments about how people should spend their time outdoors.

For the last two years, students in my English 155: Cortina Composition were challenged to work as a group to analyze how public spaces around Omaha make “arguments” that influence the way people think about a space. We practiced by visiting the Benson neighborhood to see for ourselves how the neighborhood demonstrates its values of local business, art, and community (and to drink delicious Aromas coffee).

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 2.41.01 PMTo conduct their own spatial analysis, students selected a site in the local Omaha area, photographed the site, interviewed local residents, conducted online research, collaboratively wrote their analyses, and posted their work to a publicly available Google Map. The end result is an exciting and interactive opportunity to explore the Omaha area.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 2.39.56 PMhttps://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z-YT8QHakpmQ.k2XlbSmpJkx8

I invite you to click on the projects to see, read, and learn more about public arguments in Omaha.

Dr. Faith Kurtyka

Public Policy, Elections, and Making Legislative Change

For this Sunday’s Formation Time, we welcomed Creighton and Cortina alum Patrick Carter to speak to the community about public policy and how it can create justice for all. Patrick graduated from Creighton in 2010 with a degree in Justice and Society. Upon graduation, he completed a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota. Patrick currently works with Minnesota Department of Human Services as a legislative liaison. Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.27.00 PMPatrick provided great insight into the legislative branch and emphasized that you have to understand the system before you can make change. He shared ways how everyone can make an impact on public policy, from bringing ideas to legislators to meeting with your congressperson about a certain issue to contacting an executive leader with your concerns about a new law.

Patrick’s talk was fitting because of Election Day on Tuesday. As Patrick said, every election has a lot at stake, making it especially important that we exercise our right to vote. Here are a few resources to help educate you about important local, state, and federal elections this year as well as important voting information:

Douglas County Election Commission — find your polling place in Omaha, sample ballots, and more.

Voting Requirement/Process by State

Nebraska voter guide — the Omaha World-Herald‘s guide to elections in Nebraska. Nearly every major newspaper has a site like this, so non-Nebraskans can find a similar guide at other major newspapers.

Ballot Hero — sign up with an account, input your voting location, and learn about the candidates looking for your votes on Tuesday. (for Nebraska voters only)

League of Women Voters — create a personalized ballot to take with you to the polls on Election Day!

NBC News Decision 2014 — a nifty guide to this year’s Election Day that will be great for tracking key races across the country. Keep a close eye on Republicans to see if they takes control of the Senate.

Thank you to Patrick Carter for sharing your knowledge with Cortina. And remember to vote this Tuesday!

Monday Meditation: Vocation

The first Cortina Formation Time of the year focused on the topic of vocation. Freshmen and sophomores were split into separate rooms to hear from members of the Creighton and Omaha communities who shared their vocational journey and gave advice to students as they find their own vocation.

Our panelists were: Kyle O’Reilly, video editor at West Corporation; Scott McClure, Vice President of the Magis Program at Creighton; Dr. Andy Gustafson, Associate Professor of Business Ethics and Society at Creighton; Dr. Corey Guenther, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Creighton; Becky Nickerson, Assistant Director for Leadership and Retention in Creighton’s Office of Multicultural Affairs; Amanda Drapcho, Director of the Lieben Center for Women at Creighton; and Kate McKillip, an internal and pediatric resident at UNMC. We thank them so much for taking the time to spend their Sunday evening with us!

As you begin to reflect and meditate on your passions and career calling, here are some great resources to help you continue thinking about vocation:

“Something’s your vocation if it keeps making more of you.” — Gail Godwin, Evensong

What does vocation mean to you? How do you see your time at Creighton informing your vocation? What can you do/are you doing to make your time here meaningful? How do you balance your inner voice and the demands of society/college culture when it comes to discerning your vocation?

The Start of a New Year

Welcome to our new and continuing members of the Cortina Community! After a busy start to the year full of new student orientation and the beginning of classes, we couldn’t be more excited for the year to come.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 11.22.09 AMOur first community meeting of the year was the annual Community Partner Bash where students learned who their community partner for the semester would be and met their fellow Formation Group members and leaders. Cortinians are eager to go to their service sites and learn about the Omaha community.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 11.22.53 AM The following weekend was the Cortina Fall Retreat, held at Carol Joy Holling Camp, for a time of learning, reflection, relationship-building and plenty of fun.

Students learned about Fr. Jon Cortina and were given a glimpse into his life of faith and service. In addition, we were privileged enough to see the premiere of a film made by Nico Sandi, second-year RA in Deglman, called “Faith That Does Justice,” which tells about the Jesuit martyrs tragedy in El Salvador that occurred 25 years ago. The incident shocked the world and spurred Fr. Cortina to fight injustice during a time of civil war in the country and for the rest of his life.

Cortinians also heard informative and inspirational talks from Ken Reed-Bouley, director of the Creighton Center for Service and Justice; Kyle Lierk, director of Campus Ministry at Creighton; and Dr. Faith Kurtyka, assistant professor of English at Creighton University, who all gave greater insight into the Cortina Community and how it will challenge students to think and to grow during their time in the community. We thank them for taking the time to speak to us, and we are looking forward to discussing and reflecting on what they shared with us as we continue to learn about ourselves and our world during the year.

In these first two weeks, we faced our fears, thought about our own beliefs, met new people, and shared laughter with wonderful people.

Here’s to the start of a life-giving year.

Letters to a Future Young Cortinian: “Challenge”

letterVictor

 

Dear Future Cortinian,

You are about to embark on a new chapter in your life that will forever change the way you view things and people in the world.  You are going to meet people who have different values than the ones you believe in. As a result you will be challenged. Many people don’t like to be challenged, mainly because most of us don’t like to think that we could be “wrong” or that we could be the “bad guy” in someone else’s eyes. The think to keep in mind though, is that it’s not about being right or wrong. It is about making the effort to get to know the other person, and hearing their story to understand where they are coming from and why they hold the values that they hold. In doing this you will open yourself up, and consequently open upother people to a whole new world of new experiences, new life lessons, and new friendships. Remember to just keep an open mind and to make yourself vulnerable. When people see your vulnerability, they are seeing the truest manifestation of yourself. Most importantly, remember to love, and love deeply. Never let a moment pass you by that allows you to tell someone how you feel about them. You’ll be amazed by the warmth in your heart that you’ll feel throughout the year. Your face will hurt from smiling so much and sometimes your eyes will hurt from crying with and for others. All of this will lead you to understand that you have acquired a new family in your life. Good luck with this coming year! Welcome!

Much love,

Victor Diaz

Letters to a Future Young Cortinian: “Who am I and whom shall I become?”

letterAM

My dearest Cortinian,

“Who am I? And whom shall I become?” This is a question that has come to the hearts and minds of every single person I know. We are on a constant quest to know the path in which we belong, but thankfully God doesn’t tell us. He instead guides us, and lets us go on a journey that sometimes seems fruitless but shall become fruitful. So although you may think you joined Cortina because of your friend, your parents, or to boost your resume; in all actuality you were meant to be here. God, or whomever you believe in sent you here. You belong. I unfortunately am not a poet, so that’s the end of my eloquent speaking, of the words in my heart. Now I will speak simply and honestly. Enjoy your journey! There will be hard days and easy days. Through it all remember you are strong. Going to your service site will almost always brighten your day, it is an escape, and a time to give of oneself. Go to Community Time, someone worked hard to put it together, by someone I mean a fellow Cortinian, show them you care and attend. It is a time to share with your fellow Cortinians or just a time to listen. Don’t miss a retreat. It is a time to think; nothing else, but peace and quiet to think about that question of “who am I and whom shall I become?” Remember we all make mistakes, and that’s the beauty of it, we all are flawed. Take care of yourself, college is hard yet wonderful, “you can do it!, si se puede!” You are loved my dear and you deserve love! Seek guidance when needed, listen, be patient, and show the love you receive by loving others.

Sincerely,

AM – a fellow Cortinian

Letters to a Future Young Cortinian: “Embrace”

letterembrace

 

To a Future Young Cortinian,

I’m not going to write you a letter assuming your year, your gender, your past. I am not going to tell you what you ought to do. I am merely giving advice I wish someone would have told me and my advice, in general, for anything, anytime, is to embrace it.

Embrace your friends and family. Embrace them so warmly that their loveliness joins yours. Embrace their thoughts and ambitions because it will fire yours. Embrace their hardships and sorrows, their triumphs and celebrations because they deserve it.

Embrace the situations you’re in for; you will learn and grow. Embrace the good. Embrace the bad. You need to know both before you can understand. Embrace the challenge. You do not need to be afraid. Embrace all that is around you. Especially embrace yourself. Embrace your best qualities, they should not go unrecognized. Embrace your faults because that will make them falter. Embrace your wisdom, your shortcomings, your fears, your humor, embrace all of you. Appreciate all of you. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, where you’ve come from, what others have done to you. You are you and there’s no one else like you. Embrace yourself because you deserve it. You deserve it like the opportunities you encounter, the friends you make, the family you love. Trials and tribulations may come, but you will survive, no, thrive because you embrace challenge. You challenge hardships. So like I said, there is nothing to fear. We’re all here to grow, to learn, to love. If you embrace anyone here, they will embrace you back, and invite you for another.

Cortina is a place to test yourself, but you will only get out of the community what you put in, which is why I say embrace it all.

X

Letters to a Future Young Cortinian: “Vocation”

kristinletter

 

Dear Future Cortinian,

Welcome to the family! Your year will be full of ups, downs, and all sorts of experiences. A comforting fact is that you are a part of the Cortina family and support system. The key to making your college experience great is to have an open-mind and be flexible. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. I’ve survived my freshman year and you will too! I came into college hoping to become successful, and I had my heart set on majoring in biology to become a doctor. Now I’m still pre-med, but I’m majoring in Theology, something I’m actually passionate about. Through service, I realized that success is not being the smartest or getting a high-paying job. Success is doing something you’re passionate about. Wherever I am led on this path of life, I will be flexible and keep an open-mind. Maybe I am meant to be a doctor, maybe I’m not. I will let myself be vulnerable and listen to my heart. My prayer is that you will do the same. Sometimes all you need is a little patience and a whole lot of faith. Best of luck!

Love,

Kristin

Letters to a Future Young Cortinian: “Growth”

erikaletter

Dear Future Young Cortinian,

To explain my experience in Cortina, I can use the Cortina symbol of a tree to represent what I have learned this year. I think one of the most important factors for experiencing growth is the need for strong roots, as the symbol reveals the tree’s roots to us. Cortina has given me a wonderfully positive community (or soil) to grow from. I have developed a strongly connected network of friends who appreciate who I am and deeply care for me. They make me feel safe and grounded. The trunk of the tree represents the growth I have been able to produce from this positive community. I feel that I have become more patient, more self-aware, and more vulnerable, just as a tree is vulnerable to its surroundings as it reaches out. The leaves of the tree represent how I have been able to reach out to other people, giving a part of myself to them. From serving others at my service site, to listen to other people’s stories, I have been able to share the nutrients I have gained just from being with others. While each part of the tree represents a stage in my Cortina experience, they are all necessary to creating a better community for myself and others.

Sincerely,

Erika Bowman