USD Magazine, Spring 1995
s a preschooler in the 1960s, I vividly remember accompanying my mom to "help" her clean our church during the week. Our footsteps echoed in the cav, ernous building as we moved from the altar to the pews, my mom dusting, polishing and straightening, and I fol–
lowing behind in a poor imitation. We were enveloped in an atmos– phere of profound quiet and my mom reflected a sense of peace that I now recognize as spirituality. Years late~, I watched from the pews as my mom and many of her friends put down their dust rags and took their places at the altar during communion, distributing consecrated hosts and wine. Their spirituality hadn 't changed during that time, but something significant in the church had. With the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, radical reforms were implemented in the Catholic Church. Among the changes, a single pronouncement transformed the roles of the laity and the clergy alike: that the people are the church, they don't just belong to the church. With that, priests began sharing the growing responsibilities of runn ing a parish and ministering to parishioners. Lay people stepped out of the pews to embrace new leadership opportunities in the church. Nuns went from mostly leading cloistered lives and having ministries centered around teach– ing or nursing to venturing out into the world - many in street clothes - and exploring new ministries such as counseling or social work. At the same time, the church has been experiencing a diminish– ing number of nuns and priests, a fact that some point to as evidence of a crisis in the church and its religious leadership. Many more, however, view the decline in a positive light since it opens new avenues of participation for lay people. The clergy and the laity are becoming true collaborators and are living out the proclamation that "we are the church." Our cover story, "Blessings in Disguise," explores those chang– ing roles as well as the joy and discomfort that go hand-in-hand with an evolving church. Also in this issue, "A Matter of Trust" examines the public's mistrust of politicians and government, which appeared to be at an all-time high during the last national election. USD alumni who work in politics and professors who study the big picture, however, believe there is a natural ebb and flow to public opinion in matters of politics. Throughout history, patterns have emerged that show politics following a cycle, with periods of conservatism alternating with periods of liberalism. Experts contend that large shifts in the power structure driven by the voters - as the country experienced last November - simply reflect those cycles. Finally, "History and H erstory" takes a look at USD's young gender studies minor, which educates undergraduates about gender issues and inequalities that both women and men face. Through dis– cussions in class and study of research , students are better prepared to recognize gender stereotypes and to handle issues that arise in the work place, at school and at home.
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