The College hosted its first formal collaboration with the St Andrews Foundation for Catholic Teacher Education this summer, with a summer school organised and led by staff of the Foundation from Glasgow University for students pursuing the B.Ed course at the university. As part of their studies for the Religious Education element of their course, the group of around 10 students spent mornings exploring aspects of Spanish Catholic life – the Camino of Santiago, the culture of “Semana Santa” processions and piety, religious art and literature and the writings and teachings of St Ignatius of Loyola, St Teresa of Ávila and St John of the Cross, for example – through presentations and discussions, as well as then visiting sites and places where they could experience these things for themselves, first hand. For example, following a talk, there was the opportunity to walk a part of the “Ruta de la Plata” which makes its way from Seville to Santiago de Compostela, passing through the heart of Salamanca. Following the famous “yellow arrows” and shell markers, the group entered the city across the Roman Bridge and made its way to the pilgrim “albergue”, or hostel, near Salamanca Cathedral. Another day was set aside for a trip to Ávila, visiting St Teresa’s birthplace and her home monastery of the “Encarnación” as well as the city itself. In response to the inputs and experiences, students then had to prepare presentations, reflecting on the role of pilgrimage in the spiritual life today, on the different understandings and theologies of the Cross and how these are manifested in art and literature, or selecting passages from the writings of St Teresa or St John of the Cross which struck them in a particular way. A further day’s input looked at the history of “Human Rights” thinking and how this had its origins very much in the late medieval Dominican teachers at Salamanca University – Francisco de la Victoria, Bartolomé de las Casas and others – with time to visit the monastery of San Esteban where they lived and where these ideas were developed.
The students were accompanied by a group of faculty staff, who as well as offering input to them also took time for their own reflection and shared learning, a sort of “in-service” for busy lecturers and researchers who often don’t get time to share their work or their insights. These too found the experience both personally relaxing and professionally rewarding.
Lastly, as well as classes and excursions, the group structured their day around prayer and liturgy – Divine Office for Morning Prayer to begin each day (itself a new experience for some and part of the learning) and Mass at the end of the morning or in a site of importance. Each evening, the formal programme ended with Night Prayer, which took the form of a “School of Prayer”, as participants – students and staff alike – were invited to experience perhaps new methods and forms of prayer, including Ignatian prayer of the imagination, Lectio Divina, the Examen and Christian Meditation.
All this, and time to relax in the Castilian sunshine too, enjoying the atmosphere of Salamanca itself, particularly its beautiful Plaza Mayor of a summer evening!
We hope this collaboration might be the first of many such opportunities, enabling the College to fulfil its mission of supporting the Church in Scotland through formation and education for those who, though not in formation for the priesthood, are pursuing vocations to catechise, evangelise and educate in the faith as our future teachers and school leaders.
Below are a few group pictures taken in the College and elsewhere.