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


Twenty years from now

Somewhere in Indiana I will discover myself, I hope.

On Tuesday, I entered my twentieth year of life. There is so much life I have already lived. So much time spent laughing and crying and crying some more. Where do I see myself twenty years from now?

Hopefully, I am far away from my haunting past and bad decisions, but I doubt I will be. Where does anyone see themselves twenty years from now? Worst case scenario, still in the Midwest. Best case scenario, also, still in the Midwest. I think a house with a fireplace would be nice. Somewhere to sit and read my books and drink my tea. I may own a cat or two, depending on how large that said house is. I would most of all want for it to be a home, filled with people I love and who love me.

It’s not fair to try to predict where my future leads though, so I won’t be picky on specifics, like kids names, or professions. All of it will be a product of moving forward. Each day now brings a new part of myself I didn’t know existed, a little part of myself who I am beginning to acknowledge.  Especially these days I wish I could meet myself as a child, the blunt bangs and spunky attitude combined with big dreams. My parents would always tell me I was braver than my brothers, no. Always taking risks. No fear, no pain, nothing to lose.

Would that little girl, with the bright colored sweaters and painted nails, look at me, look at the life I am living and be excited I made it? What would I tell her? I may not be much different than that girl now. Maybe she is braver than I. When did I lose that? And how do I attempt to get it back? Will I twenty years from now and think the same thing about myself now? I hope not. I think my younger self would like the way I hang important moments on my wall. Quotes and photos and memories, illuminated by twinkling lights. I think she would like the friends I’ve made. The ones I can sit in silence with and laugh about how life has brought us together. I think she would like the amount of concerts I’ve been to, and the places I’ve seen, the nature I’ve been able to take in. I think she’d love my hair, and my nose, that took me a little too long to grow into. I think she would love the books I’ve read and the love I’ve been able to express.

But most of all I think she would like the strength I continue to have every day. I continue to push myself to make her proud. And to make my future self proud as well. Twenty something, such an odd time to be living in, somewhere I was terrified to be, but somewhere I can find comfort in reaching.

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The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


SGA hosts ‘Support A Belle Love A Belle’ week

For the first week of November, Saint Mary’s College Student Government Association (SGA) hosted “Support A Belle Love A Belle” (SABLAB) week.

SABLAB week has been a fall tradition held on Saint Mary’s Campus, with events spanning an entire week. Its intention, SGA president Angela Martinez Camacho explained, is to encourage the building of community among Saint Mary’s students. 

“SABLAB week is simply celebrating what it means to be a Belle, building community between one another and having fun throughout a one-week period,” Martinez Camacho said. 

For the first time, this year SGA worked ‘Smick Day’ into the SABLAB week of events. This incorporation led to collaboration with many different SGA committees.

Thalia Mora, co-chair of the Social Concerns Committee, spoke on the efforts necessary to make a week like this happen.

“Preparation was a lot of working with my co-chair for Social Concerns, Hannah Kaczor, to budget, order, design and set up these events. We also collaborated with other SGA committees like Student Life and Involvement who really headed up Smick Day and the Academic Liaison Committee for our alum mixer,” Mora said.

Events started at the beginning of the week, early Monday morning, with Chick-fil-A for breakfast in Spes Unica Hall.

“I think students appreciated a yummy start to the week, starting on a good note,” Martinez Camacho said. 

Progressing through the week, Tuesday’s event provided students with information from Callisto, and Wednesday’s events included a “Proud Smick” t-shirt pop-up in Le Mans Hall, along with the Smick Day event itself.

“Tuesday, we tabled with a representative of Callisto to promote the online tool to students — especially as we continue or address and fight against sexual violence. Wednesday, we had a t-shirt pop-up around 3 p.m. and Smick Day later in the afternoon,” Martinez Camacho said. “I think this was my favorite day and event because we provided that sense of community to our students through food and various other activities.”

Mora explained the on-campus significance of SABLAB, specifically the students’ positive feedback at events throughout the week.

“During many of the pop-ups and events throughout the week, we got so many comments about how it would make people’s day and that it made them feel appreciated as a student and a Belle. It was really cool to hear and see how excited students were about the little things that reminded them that they are cared for,” Mora said. 

Martinez Camacho illustrated the overall impact the week of events had on the students and the Saint Mary’s community.

“As a historically all-women’s college, we are incredibly unique. This week allows us to celebrate that uniqueness and embrace and reinforce the community that has been built.” Martinez Camacho explained. “Especially as the semester is starting to come to a close, we want our students to feel supported by all of the Belles around them, knowing that this is a community that is right there to demonstrate love, unity and fight for their best interests.”

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Saint Mary’s offers new religion course titled Queer Theology

During the 2021-22 academic year, professors Jessica Coblentz and Daniel Horan O.F.M proposed a new course to the Saint Mary’s College curriculum committee, entitled Queer Theology. The course Queer Theology, co-taught by Professors Coblentz and Horan, started its first half, Queer Theology I, this semester at Saint Mary’s, and will continue next semester with Queer Theology II. Coblentz and Horan spoke on the circumstances of its creation, emphasizing its intentionality to address a call for discussion within the Saint Mary’s community. 

“The unique thing about how this course came to be is that we were very intentional about being in conversation with students because the class was inspired by students’ desires to learn more about this,” Coblenz explained. “We were really intentional about asking them, ‘What do you want to study?’ ‘What are the questions that you have that aren’t being answered in other classes that you’re taking or in some of the extracurricular opportunities here at the College?”

To the same accord, Horan recalled his moment of recognition of a need for a course such as this.

“We had a campus event, and in the Q&A session, it became clear that students were very interested in perspectives of Christian theology that aligned with and arose from the experiences of those who identify as LGBTQ+,” Horan said. 

Horan further spoke on the attitude of the student body.

“There was a hunger, there was an interest, there was a desire to learn more about the work that’s being done around this topic,” Horan said. 

Coblentz, having taught a “Queer theology” course previous to her time at Saint Mary’s, expressed interest and determination toward the formation of the curriculum.

“We did our best, as experts in Christian theology, to sort of find opportunities to introduce students to ideas in academic theology that connect with their own organic interest,” Coblentz said.

She described some of what the course aims to cover as a whole.

“We’re exploring in the class how insights from Queer theory, sort of challenge and expand certain ideas in traditional Christian theology and also we’re looking at how ideas in Christian theology can challenge, expand and help reimagine different issues in Queer theory,” Coblenz explained.

As well as the content of the course, Horan shared another main element considered in the brainstorming phase, the importance of accessibility to the course. “A course like this had not been offered at Saint Mary’s or in the tri-campus community, at least to our knowledge, so we really had a chance to think from scratch, what would a course like this look like?” Horan continued. 

 “How could we make it a course that was accessible and available to the greatest sort of number of students who are interested in taking it, recognizing that students have very full plates,” he said. 

The structure of the course is unique in the aspect that each semester is worth one and a half credits. Aimed to accommodate those who have an interest in taking this class but may have a full schedule or minimal room, the course is offered on Wednesday evenings. It is a year-long course available to students to take one semester or the other or both in combination to get the equivalent of a regular course in credits.

“We wanted to do something a bit innovative even in the offering of the course, and that’s where the one and a half credit per semester kind of, part one part two structure came in,” Horan said. 

Horan discussed the importance this course plays within the Saint Mary’s and tri-campus communities.

“I think it is important because there is, first of all, an important area of this field of study that doesn’t or hasn’t traditionally, in the tri-campus area, received much attention in a formal academic sense. I think the second reason is that it’s important because these are pressing questions of our time, right?” Horan said. 

Horan continued and addressed the specific relevance the course plays within the setting of a Catholic college.

“So, at a Catholic college, our mission, our vision for education is rooted in that quest for deeper knowledge about the human person, about the world, about God, about what we see and what’s more than what we see. And so, in that regard, something like Queer theology fits in very comfortably and ideally.” Horan said. “The intersection of dialogue is a big part of what this course is about.”

Coblentz also dived into the conversations within the class that have been sparked since its start this semester.

“But I think what we’re exploring and Queer theology are some ways of bringing Christianity to bear on our lives that are often overlooked, that often aren’t introduced to students, and I think that weather students end up agreeing or disagreeing with the authors we read in class I think it’s often really productive and fruitful and exciting to reconsider whether faith has something to offer in this regard. Something to offer that maybe we haven’t thought about before,” Coblentz said. 

Her overall passion for this course and its contents stems from the meaning she hopes others will find in it.

“This dialogue where we’re challenging ourselves to grow in understanding to expand our horizons to rethink things that some of us have taken for granted, that’s what all theology classes on our campus aim to do,” Coblentz said. 

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Saint Mary’s hosts first event for the Period Project

Attendants of Wednesday night’s “Period Party” could expect a full room of Saint Mary’s students and community members, celebrating a new addition to the Saint Mary’s campus, the Period Project. Bingo was played, stickers and informational pamphlets were distributed, and music was blasted throughout Rice Commons located in Saint Mary’s student center.  

SGA President Angela Martinez Camacho and Vice President Josie Haas pose with other students at the Period Party

Liz Baumann, the Director of Student Involvement and Advocacy at Saint Mary’s opened the event with a word about the mission of the Period Project.  “We want to ensure that each student has access to basic needs on campus. The Period Project at Saint Mary’s College aims to provide free menstrual products to all students and campus community members” Baumann said. 

Baumann expanded on this mission to include the conversation surrounding periods, “We want to decrease period stigma and increase education and access to products on campus” Baumann stated. 

She commented on the hopeful longevity of this project, and the impact it has had on the Saint Mary’s community this year so far. “Products are also available across campus in bathrooms in every building. We hope that this project can continue to grow.”

“These products will help students who are seeking additional necessary support through campus. Be sure to look out for more events in the upcoming months,” Baumann continued. 

Baumann addressed the societal need for access to period products citing a 2021 BMC women’s health study “One in ten college students report that they cannot afford pantylines, pads, tampons, and other menstrual hygiene supplies.” Baumann said.

She talked about how the Period Project’s goal is to help provide these products. “Our goal is to provide free menstrual products in every building on Saint Mary’s campus. Additionally, we aim to keep a substantial supply of menstrual products in the Mother Pauline Pantry on campus for students to access them throughout the academic year” Baumann continued. 

Saint Mary’s sophomore, Isa Grace Guthrie expressed her thoughts on the conversation of periods themselves, “Periods need to be destigmatized. There’s a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about periods and I’m really glad that we’re having this conversation here at Saint Mary’s” Guthrie said. 

Junior Megan Maurer stated her excitement about the event and particular admiration of Baumann’s enthusiasm for the cause.

“I think this is a really cool thing. I love Liz [Baumann]. And I love that she’s very passionate about this and I think her passion makes everyone else feel better” Maurer said. 

Emily Sierkowski, a junior at Saint Mary’s, discussed her thoughts on the impact of the period party. “I just think that it’s really amazing that we are really advocating for our periods since we are all girls and we all have them. So it’s really nice that we’re recognizing it and celebrating it instead of dreading it,” Sierkowski noted. 

Liz Baumann commented on the success of the Period Party, “The party had much more attendance than we ever could have imagined. I ran out of everything, which is a great problem to have,” Baumann said.  

She continues on to speak of her perception of the student body and their advocacy towards this topic. “But I think that also speaks to the importance of the Period Project and how much our students do want to talk about periods, talk about their bodies, have access to products and decrease the stigma,” Baumann explained.  

Bauman expressed her thanks to Saint Mary’s Student Government Association as well as her excitement for future Period Project events. “I’m excited to continue to plan events, and we’re grateful to SGA for making this event so perfect,” Baumann finished.

Cora Haddad

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