A presentation of new awards kicked off the afternoon session of St. Catherine's internal conference, Teaching and Learning Network.
The Sister Amata Catholic Mission in Action awards were created to honor Economics Professor Emerita Amata Miller, IHM, the first Archbishop Harry Flynn Endowed Chair in Catholic identity and Founding Director of the Myser Initiative at St. Catherine University. The awards recognize faculty and staff who have demonstrated a commitment to the Catholic Mission of the University.
Associate Professor Kate Barrett, current Endowed Chair in Catholic Identity and director of the Myser Initiative, presented the awards to Syneva Barrett, assistant professor and program director for Montessori, and Thelma Obah, director of the O’Neill Center for Academic Development.
Syneva Barrett was honored for a practice called, “radical hospitality” — to mindfully and intentionally welcome, receive and care for others. It means conducting a seemingly routine business meeting with style and respect and offering everyone coffee and gratefully acknowledging the importance of their presence.
“Radical hospitality is inviting everyone who has ever contributed to her program including cleaning staff and the university president to a gratitude coffee break,” said Kate Barrett. “What Syneva does for the university is enact the mission every day, in all of her encounters with everyone.”
Thelma Obah. Photo by Hilary Stein '14.
Thelma Obah is active in her Catholic faith and community, and lives her faith through her deep respect for and support of students, staff, faculty, and the entire University community. Described as thoughtful, respectful and inclusive, her commitment to students, especially those at greatest risk, is always apparent in her actions and work.
“Thelma is an incredible example of how supporting our Catholic Mission can be lived and shared with the St. Kate’s community and beyond,” said Barrett.
Amata Miller, IHM, was the first Archbishop Harry Flynn Endowed Chair in Catholic Identity and founding director of the Myser Initiative. She launched the program during the 2005-06 Faculty Staff Opening Workshop in August. Over the next decade, hundreds of faculty and staff participated in workshops, planning retreats and brown bags. Faculty represented St. Kate’s at Collegium, a national annual colloquy on faith and intellectual life. The Myser Initiative’s popular annual lecture series featured acclaimed Catholic intellectual leaders, including Lisa Cahill, Joan Chittister, Elizabeth Johnson and Carolyn Woo.
In addition, she collaborated with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet’s Justice Commission to co-host the annual event on social justice, Breaking the Impasse.