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BAVO, campus ministry host ‘Trauma and Spirituality’ discussion virtually

| Tuesday, March 31, 2020

As April — sexual assault awareness month — approaches, the Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), campus ministry and the wellness program teamed up to present “Trauma and Spirituality,” a conversation on the effects of trauma on overall health, spirituality and belief systems.

The discussion addressed questions of how one can overcome negative or stressful thoughts about the current pandemic, as well as how to use prayer for meditation and stress relief.

“This event is particularly valuable during this time in our society where coronavirus has affected our daily lives and may have altered the way we think about faith,” BAVO coordinator Liz Coulston said in an email to students.

Sophomore Emily Karalus, a BAVO Student Advisory Committee (SAC) member, said “Trauma and Spirituality” served the purpose of including all of the different faiths and spiritualities on campus in the healing process.

“It allowed the panelists to explore different coping mechanisms and self-care practices after traumatic events,” Karalus said in an email. “It was an event that all of our students could participate in despite their differences in faith. Our main focus was on showing students that there is a way to overcome trauma despite what your beliefs may be, before and after the traumatic event.”

Though the College is not allowing anyone on campus currently and classes will be completed remotely until the end of the semester, Karalus said BAVO still wanted to continue to hold this event as it is an important topic for many, even when students find themselves stuck at home.

“We also chose to continue with this event because it is extremely beneficial during this time of chaos and disarray,” Karalus said. “We knew that this event could help ground our students and to ensure that they are taking care of themselves. It also provided us an opportunity to let the students, who have experienced trauma, know that there are still resources and supports available for them on and off-campus. We described that during a time like this, it may be harder or easier to heal from the trauma that they have experienced.”

Karalus said the event did not change much since it was moved online.

“We incorporated all the same questions and panelists, and we sent the goodie bags to the student‘s home address instead of them having them pick them up if the event was in person,” Karalus said. “It was not hard to make the transition to a virtual event since we had great panelists and many of our ideas already laid out.”

The event panelists included assistant director of Campus Ministry Liz Palmer, BAVO coordinator Liz Coulston and senior ministry assistant Annie Maguire.

Maguire said cross-campus events such as those between BAVO and Campus Ministry are important since she believes her community can accomplish more when working together. 

“When we utilize and harness the assets, wisdom and resources we have in our community, we broaden our reach to students, cultivate our capacity for change-making and deepen our prosperity as an institution,” she said.

Maguire said the event‘s partnership between Campus Ministry and BAVO promotes a holistic approach to healing, especially in the midst of a global health emergency.

“I found myself [beginning] the process of healing when I reflected upon the questions on the panel,” Maguire said in an email. “Everyone is affected by this pandemic differently, and this panel helped me open my heart and my mind to the ways I could touch others with my words and reflections to inspire collective healing as well.”

Maguire believes her experience ministry assistant on campus at Saint Mary’s can uplift others right now. 

“I think it‘s important that students know that despite the distance that separates our community, the community of Saint Mary’s never leaves them,” Maguire said. “Saint Mary’s is here for them no matter what. It’s time to extend our love to each other across the miles in creative and meaningful ways.”

More than 70 students registered for the event via Google Forms, with more than 50 people appearing on Google Meet during the event time.

“We are glad that we could provide support and insight into these topics to so many students today,” Karalus said. “This is one of the greatest turnouts we have ever had for BAVO events, and we are so happy that we could stay connected as a community today.”

BAVO will continue to post tips regarding self-care activities, quotes, recommendations and academic study tips, as well as host more virtual events for students, including GreenDot training overviews and stress-management sessions.

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