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By Monica Wright

 

A few weeks ago, during a slow spell, a woman came into our office for a criminal record expungement. This is not uncommon, we see a number of people every day for this reason, and help them in any way we can. However, this woman immediately caught my attention because of her demeanor. She was hopeful, and came into our office smiling.

She told us that she was about to become a grandmother, and because both of son and daughter-in-law were in the military, she would have a large role in this child’s life. She came to us because she wanted to have some charges expunged that were over 20 years old, so she could set a good example for this child in her life. Not only that, but she shared that she had a rare disease she caught as a real estate agent. She visited a home with a deadly fungus, and the spores had spread through her throat and lungs. She wanted to make sure she could have a fresh start before she passed away. The addition of this new child in her life and her growing uncertainty at her life expectancy inspired her to clear her record. She got emotional at the thought of being able to start fresh, and blessed my supervisor and me before she left our office.

As the Center for Faith and Vocation’s Expungement Desk Intern I work directly with the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic at their Expungement Desk. I work to create petitions, early filing requests, research Indiana expungement law, and create marketing materials for the Expungement Desk. Most importantly, I get to hear people’s stories. I hear about their families, their dreams, why they’re trying to clear their records. I get to hear about their dreams and ambitions, and help them create their new future.

Giving someone a second chance is a beautiful thing. No one should be defined by the worst thing they have ever done, that’s why the work done at the Expungement Desk is so important. The work we do is so fulfilling and really changes people’s lives. This internship reminded me the importance of the legal system, and showed me firsthand how it can change someone’s life.

by Nick Maicke ’18

When I applied to become an intern at the Center for Interfaith Cooperation (man, it seems like years ago), there was really no way for me to predict just how much I would gain from the experience. The open-ended nature of the internship and the extremely flexible and dedicated nature of my supervisor Charlie Wiles was an excellent combination for me. It meant that I was able to pursue my own interests (how faith and interfaith affect international politics) while still being very involved with the team’s projects within the CIC. For someone like me that enjoys setting goals for himself and working to reach them independently, this was the perfect structure for me, and it was one of the things that allowed me to really get the most out of this internship.

By far the most exciting part of my work at the CIC was the Festival of Faiths: the group’s main event that brings together dozens of faith groups from throughout Indianapolis. Literature on this event was what made me want to apply to the CIC position, and it definitely did not disappoint. Despite having studied here at Butler for almost three and a half years, I was blown away by the number of different cultural and religious groups that we have right here in our city. The event was like nothing I had ever seen before. Every group that was represented was not only willing but extremely excited to inform the public and share their culture with everyone else. I saw everything from a Buddhist meditation group of a dozen people to Hindus explaining the traditions of the Vedas to a group of Christians, all the while the number of turbans in the room steadily grew as the Sikh representatives happily tied them for those of all faiths. So many of the things I did that day were first-time experiences, and there was no way to prepare for exactly how much I learned during the Festival of Faiths. The event certainly surpassed my expectations, and was one of the most rewarding experiences that I had while working as an intern with the CIC.

If you have the opportunity to work for or even visit the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, it’s an experience I highly recommend. The people there are entirely focused on promoting understanding, interaction and open dialogue between people of different faiths and backgrounds, and on top of that they’re some of the most dedicated workers that I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. Working with Charlie, John, Abbygail and the rest of the staff at the CIC has helped me to grow not only professionally, but personally as well, as I was able to explore and expand my own worldview during my entire time at the CIC. I’m very grateful to the CFV and Butler for affording me this fantastic opportunity, and I can only hope that my future place of employment is anything like the Center for Interfaith Cooperation.

 

By Maham Nadeem ’19

This past semester I served as the CFV interfaith intern. In this capacity, I served as the chair of the Interfaith Council. I was able to work with a vibrant, energetic, and engaged group of students all coming together to discuss faith. As the chair, it was my responsibility to choose discussion topics and lead the conversation.

Throughout this whole experience, I was able to engage and connect with people from different backgrounds. As a Muslim woman in today’s America, being a part of this group has been really meaningful to me. Since there has been a spotlight of adversity on my faith tradition in recent months, it has been really empowering to share with others the good my religious community has to offer. Its been comforting to talk to other people of faith and make connections on how many similarities our respective faiths share. For example, in nearly every meeting this semester, council members were able to connect verses and written text to the topic we were currently discussing and often times what they were quoting was very similar in meaning.

As a leader in a discussion, one of the most challenging things to do is making sure you are engaging everyone in the room. I tried my best to make everyone in the group feel involved. Often times this pushed my out of my own comfort space. I tried to set an example of courage and bravery by speaking out and honestly sharing about own experiences, doubts, and beliefs. I think for the most part this helped set a tone of openness and respect which encouraged others to share about their own personal beliefs.

In the future, I want to further hone all the leadership skills I have learned through this internship. I want to continue to connect with people through interfaith discussions. Personally, I believe the solution to many disagreements is proper discussions. In the future, I hope to facilitate conversations about faith and the intersections between religions.

by Rainie Grant, ’18

Communication with self …and then with others

This semester I learned that before I can communicate with others, I first have to learn how to communicate with myself.

As the Communications Intern, my favorite thing to say has been that the hardest part of organizing an event is convincing people to come to your event instead of participating in any of the other many options that are open to them. You can create a wonderful event and invite as many people as possible, but that doesn’t guarantee that they will come. Marketing strategy and communication is key to drawing people’s interest to events so that they can gain whatever message is being passed along; however, none of that means anything if you don’t know, yourself, what you want from the experience.

Working in communications at the CFV has given me the chance to discover who I have become, why, and what I want to gain in the future, from the internship as well as from Butler and life. By facing my fears and standing in front of different groups to lead conversations about prominent issues, by being tasked with choosing and categorizing my principle values, and by playing a role in how people relate to each other, I have been encouraged to communicate with myself and to answer these questions for myself.

Finding my place, my role, within the process of communicating with others has allowed me to identify how I can use the tools I have gained in order to appeal to myself and more easily to others. I am very pleased with how my time with the CFV has progressed, and I look forward to continuing to use these tools in the future as I work my way to law school and whatever may follow. I sincerely thank Marguerite and Daniel for their mentorship and for their guidance in helping to develop my communication skills with both myself and others.

 

 

 

By Maddy Smith

The experience that I’ve had during my time at the Project Grace Help Desk can’t possibly be summed up into 200-300 words but I’ll give it my best shot. There are so many invaluable aspects to this position that have led me to decide to stay on board as a volunteer after the conclusion of my internship. First of all, the absolutely incredible volunteer staff has made me feel like a member of the “Help Desk family” from day one. The manager, Julie, is one of the kindest, most selfless, and inspirational women that I’ve ever met. Not only has she guided me through the internship with an overabundance of patience and understanding, she has also taken me in as one of her own and asked me to watch her dog overnight as well as invited me and a few other volunteers over to her house for Easter lunch. Meeting Julie and being able to work alongside her has been one of the greatest blessings and I’m overjoyed to know that she will remain in my life.

Through my internship I was also able to meet a group of incredible people from a variety of backgrounds. A fellow volunteer, Katie, aside from being the most considerate person I’ve ever met serves as a huge inspiration for me due to the extent to which she dedicates herself to serving the community. She and I share similar educational backgrounds in sociology and we will both enter law school later this summer at Indiana University McKinney downtown. This internship blessed me with irreplaceable friends that I hold so dear to my heart.

The visitors that I’ve been able to help and get to know have also made a huge impact on my viewpoint of life as well as my career goals. Before this internship began I already had an idea that I wanted to practice as a criminal defense attorney but after witnessing firsthand how the legal system affects different members of the Indianapolis community, there is no doubt in my mind that I want to serve as a public defender. There is a certain image of what a “criminal” is that is unfortunately engrained in all of us through our society and whether or not an individual consciously thinks about it, we all make assumptions about who we think “criminals” are. This internship has completely dissolved any preconceived notions that I may have had about different types of people. I have encountered so many different people and they all exist regardless of whether or not they have a criminal record. We as humans are not defined by our mistakes but rather how we grow from those mistakes.

This experience couldn’t have presented itself at a better time in my life. As I get closer and closer to graduating and leaving Butler, my connection to the Indianapolis community as well as the legal community within it only gets stronger. At a time that could potentially be overwhelming and terrifying I am comforted through my friendships and the opportunities that are waiting ahead of me. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that Butler, the Center for Faith and Vocation, and the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic made possible and this experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.

by Diante Graffagnino

Throughout my time at butler, I have come to know what a community is and the what word community means to me.  I have learned that a community is a group of people that supports one another.  A community is a conglomerate of friends, of family, and sometimes of strangers, who move together in congruity.  A community is a safe place that allows every member of the whole to have their own identity.  I believe that, fundamentally, every human being strives for this strong sense of community.

I have had the privilege to work with the Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) whose mission is to foster a community where people from a wide range of backgrounds can dialogue about relevant topics in their lives.  I have been part of meetings, banquets, seminars, and other events that have been made up of people with unique backgrounds all coming together to show support for one another.  One of my favorite events was a small celebration for outgoing Episcopal Bishop Kate Waynick and incoming Bishop-Elect Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows.  I was honored to be asked if I would play piano during this celebration of accomplishments and ambitions.

My friends at the CIC have helped me to see the value in conversation between existing groups of people.  New relationships and bonds can form just by reaching out to other communities.   In this way, I began to see the pattern that exists and a necessity of an interpersonal relationship and how it is just as necessary for that to expand into an intercommunal relationship.  The CIC invigorates the intercommunal relationship perfectly by acting as a catalyst for these essential interactions.

It has been my pleasure to work at the Center for Interfaith Cooperation this past spring.  I will use the all-embracing attitude that the CIC cultivates for the rest of my life.  Most importantly, I am thankful to have been able to work in a place that I can also call my community.

by David Barickman

I came to the Center for Faith and Vocation to help students consider their vocation, explore their faith and or values, and make meaningful connections between the two. While this did happen, I also found myself participating in my own self-exploration.

Speaking as a seminary student, it has not been uncommon for me to use the word “calling” or “vocation” to refer to my future plans. However, just because I attach these words to my future plans doesn’t mean I have unpacked, explored, and wrestled with how I hope to live out my “calling.”

My time this year at Butler’s Center for Faith and Vocation has been an incredible season of personal exploration for me. During my three years at Christian Theological Seminary there have been many vocational questions that I seemed to continually face time and time again. Questions such as: “Do I feel a calling to ordained ministry?” “Is my current denomination the right denomination for me?” “In what type of context am I called to do ministry?” “What am I most passionate about?” “What are my biggest strengths and weaknesses?”

Spending time each week with Daniel reflecting on my experiences at the CFV has been an incredibly clarifying experience. Having the time to unpacking my reactions to my experiences has been a gift.

In one such weekly meeting, I was reflecting on having planned, put together, and facilitated a labyrinth walk in the Reilly room. I found that the experience had been very meaningful for me. In discussing this with Daniel, I came to realize this experience was somewhat of a metaphor for my vocation. Using my skills to plan and facilitate space for others to have a meaningful spiritual experience. This is one of many vocational touchstones I am thankful for in my experience at the CFV.

It’s not that I have ultimately solved or answered the questions I mentioned above. It is more so that I have gained a greater understanding about myself in relation to these questions, so that, when I approach these questions now, I approach them without the anxiety and fear that I once did.

I am excited to take the lessons I learned at the CFV this year and continue to learn about myself and my calling along the journey of life. Hopefully, I will have the chance to aid others in their own self exploration along the way.

 

 

By Abbey DiSano

This past semester I had the privilege of being the Marketing Intern at Trinity Free Clinic.  Trinity Free Clinic is a Catholic, nonprofit organization that provides free healthcare to the uninsured and under insured, low income residents of Hamilton County.  As the Marketing Intern I was able to assist the Marketing Director in a number of projects including writing the quarterly newsletter, developing a social media calendar, soliciting for donations, and helping to plan and promote the annual spring fundraiser.  I really enjoyed this experience as it helped me develop my marketing and event planning skills and gain real-world professional experience.

Working for this organization was incredibly rewarding as I worked in the Trinity Free Office and saw the patients come in and out throughout the day. In observing the patients, I was able to see how thankful they were for Trinity Free Clinic. This organization’s mission is truly inspiring and I am grateful that I was able to be a part of it.

 

By Charis Webb

Working at Catholic Radio Indy (CRI) has taught me that I do not have to sacrifice my morals and values for a job. I can continue to not only hold on to my beliefs, but utilize them in a positive manner to better myself and the community.  As a soon-to-be college graduate, the idea of the workforce and adulthood can seem daunting, especially when everyone keeps asking about my future career plans. It is reassuring to know that there are organizations like CRI that allow faith to flourish in a working environment. I never considered myself to be the “evangelizing” type, but CRI directs its efforts in such a way that talking about Catholicism openly and unabashedly has become second nature to me.  When working our major Catholic Women’s Conference Event, I lost track of the amount of women who came up to me and praised CRI for its work and how they have personally witnessed conversions after hearing some of our shows or seeing our bumper sticker on the back of someone’s car. The results of CRI are tangible, and I have firsthand experience of this. CRI gave a platform to my non-profit I run through Faith in Action and allowed my own charity to grow. I have grown as a person with the guiding hands of Patty Zunica and Barbara Brinkman; two phenomenal supervisors that were more than just bosses, but supportive mentors and friends.  Not only have I grown on a personal level, but my resume has exponentially expanded upon my internship here. CRI has taught me a number of transferable skills in marketing, fundraising, communications, events, advanced technology, and more. Overall, the CRI crew has given me an amazing opportunity to participate in networking with a multitude of individuals who are invested in bettering the Indianapolis community through Catholic teachings and God-inspired outreaches.

 

 

 

by Annika London

During my semester in Washington D.C. last fall, I witnessed the fear and anger that different minority faith communities around me felt after the elections. I knew at that point that once I returned to Butler’s campus, I wanted to find a way to appreciate and strengthen religious pluralism both on campus and in the broader Indianapolis community.

I have greatly enjoyed working as the Communications Intern for the Center for Faith and Vocation. While helping to organize and promote the many fantastic events hosted by the Center, I have been able to see the extent of the diversity at Butler University and in Indianapolis. Events like “Big Questions” and “Talk, Taste, and Listen” have opened my mind to the varied experiences of my peers. I was honored to be able to stand next to the exceptional individuals who participated in the Muslim Student Association’s “Unity Walk.” The “Affirming Our Love” choral concert and the Interfaith Council’s Canvas Painting Night opened my mind to the possibilities of interfaith cooperation and peace through art. And I appreciate every opportunity I have had to directly interact and work with people from many different religions, philosophies, and perspectives who value diversity and pluralism as much as I do.

Interning at the Center for Faith and Vocation was an excellent way to bring my time at Butler University to an end. Looking forward into a future full of open doors, this internship has confirmed my passion for cultivating an appreciation for diversity. Beyond that, I am excited to carry the skills I have built, the experiences I have gained, and the perspectives I have absorbed into whatever future journey I choose to pursue.

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