Week 2

  1. Creating intentional spaces to address the hard stuff, the good stuff, the frustrating stuff – and emerge in deeper love of self and other.

  2. Praying with the presence of God, however that manifests itself.

  3. Collaboration is my life-giving source of creativity and hope.

    After my junior year in college, my dad passed away from an eight year battle with cancer. The three statements above have revealed themselves to me throughout my life, beginning in my early teens and still today, but my father’s death was a catalyst for a much deeper appreciation of this life and the hope of the next. When I think back to our family life and those first few years after his death, I worked through the relationship we shared. One to one my Dad and I had something beautiful, but my father’s intensity and anger incited fear many times and left us three Boccuzzi women (of which I am the youngest sister) with many heartaches and yearnings for intentional, respectful communications.

    My mom and eldest sister were warriors and took on the burden of modeling unconditional love, but my Dad (because of his upbringing and own pressures) was unable to meet his emotions with care and attention. Now, I believe in not just healthy communication, but healthy conflict. Using emotion and language to explain oneself and, even more importantly, to ask the other how they really are is a practice of sharing in one another’s gifts.There were many wasted times in our family juggling my father’s anger and I had sworn to myself that time spent stewing in my own emotions would not be a defining quality, but rather I would transform it to become one of my strengths. I do believe I have done this and continue to educate myself, remaining with therapy as well as surrounding myself with others who model this for me. I care about expressing oneself and listening to the other. This fills me with energy because I see it as a deep, deep expression of love that can never be construed as ill-will or passivity. It is something “I get after.” I don’t mean that in an aggressive, self-serving way but as a holy fire that is compelled to know, to feel, and to find new ways to love God’s creation.

    This sense of call was really fostered by a Sister of St. Francis in Philadelphia. Sr. Barbara Lucas lived alone in what she called the “abode” which was close to my house. She was not just my spiritual director, she was my mentor, a maternal presence in my life, my cheerleader… and the woman who taught me honest meditation. She was a progressive Catholic and had an experience herself of being called “heretical” and was subsequently kicked out of her hermitage in West Virginia, which was how she landed in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She accompanied me through the relationship with my father, his death, my own health complications, and was thrilled for me to begin studies in Berkeley. She laid the foundation for what would be my understanding of a what a rebel, faithful Catholic could look like.  

    Where does all this leave me now? My sense of purpose and the callings I have felt to the experiences (in the past and in the present) stem from this understanding of our deep longings as humans to actually be vulnerable, to feel safe, to express ourselves, and to also hold that space for others. There is risk involved here and that risk is where I like to land my prayer. A journal has been my outlet for most of my life and where I feel the most in the presence of God. I didn’t have a full appreciation for this until I stopped putting pen to paper. Many twists and turns of life led me to suffering and I fell away from the practice… feeling like organizing the words and moving the pen were too burdensome. That is what also drew me to this opportunity. To write again and to share that with people who I hold space for and who are holding it for me. That is the most profound gift “in my book”! That said, I think this desire for listening, holding, and revealing oneself is beautifully woman. It is in our very fiber to come together, to share our experiences, and to find commonalities in both sufferings and joys. When learning at JST from bad-ass female scholars, my eyes were opened to the stories of women in our sacred Scriptures who are forgotten about, simplified, misconstrued, and objectified. It is the culmination of MANY women in my life that leads me to the here and now.

4 thoughts on “Week 2

  1. Stephanie, I am struck by some of the similarities in some of your family experiences to those of Arline and me. You express yourself beautifully. It is easy to tell that you have experience at this and I hope I can learn from you, as this is not one of my gifts.

  2. Hi, Stephanie. That patriarchal dynamic in your family rings true for me. I was struck by your saying you care about expressing yourself and listening to the other because you see it as a deep expression of love. That resonates with me. You talk about the longings to be vulnerable, to feel safe, to express yourself and hold space for the other, and then refer to your journal as a place to do that. It moves me to take up journaling again, a practice I followed for more than half my life, but that has lain fallow in recent years. Thank you for such deep sharing.

  3. Stephanie, I really relate to the feeling that writing/journaling can feel so burdensome at times. I’m also struck by how your desire to be with people in their vulnerability is so pastoral. I know that you talked about trying to practice pastoral care with your students in the classroom and what you wrote here resonates so much with that. I wonder how your role as a teacher feels similar and different to other moments where you’ve entered into vulnerability and deep listening with people in all parts of your life.

  4. Stephanie, you have expressed yourself powerfully!

    A deeper reading of your post answers the question I asked of you in our small group. I was wondering about your central call, and here I see that being transformed through conversation (encounter) is central for you. I actually identify with that a lot (our group is relating! this is cool!): the connection between conversion and conversation.

    One question for you:
    Who do you most want to be in conversation with at this moment in your life?

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