SHEPARD and Campus Ministry Host Coffeehouse

by The Cowl Editor on February 1, 2018


Student Groups Promote Intersectionality Through Discussion and Coffee

by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18

News Editor

Students at the Coffeehouse
Brianna Colletti ’21/The Cowl

This past Monday, January 29, leaders from Campus Ministry and SHEPARD saw their hard work and dedication to intersectionality pay off as over 50 students attended a joint coffeehouse in Moore Hall.

Mel Fricchione ’19, a leader on SHEPARD explained that she found the event very successful, and saw the most people in attendance of any of their events last semester. “It was exciting to see such a large circle set up for the conversation and for every seat to be filled,” she said.

“The conversation was centered around each of us reconciling the many different aspects of our identities, for example being a woman, a daughter, a teacher, being white, or being a person of color, or being part of the LGBTQ+ community to name just a few,” said Bridgette Clarke ’18, a leader on campus ministry who helped organize the event. Clarke explained that the conversation began with understanding this notion of intersectionality, which means “understanding how each of the things you identify with is equally a part of you and how some may seem opposed to others.”

Fricchione explained that coffeehouses are open forums and spaces for anyone to share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. “People that felt comfortable shared their thoughts on what it means to have many identities and when these identities sometimes contradict each other,” she said when asked about the event in Moore Hall. “Many intimate stories were shared and I am so happy we were able to create an environment where people felt comfortable doing so.”

“I think it is really important to begin to have these conversations, so I was very excited for this coffeehouse sponsored by both Campus Ministry and SHEPARD,” said Clarke, who explained that an event like this had been in the works between the two groups for a while.

“This event started with a conversation between Campus Ministry and SHEPARD in Dana Dillon’s difficult dialogues class last year,” said Fricchione. She explained that on this campus, there is no “rivalry” between the two clubs, although she understands why it is assumed there may be one. “This got the conversation started which got us thinking we could work together on an event,” she said.

The initial conversation continued at SHEPARD meetings throughout the semester. “We began reflecting on what it means to have an LGBTQ+ identity but also identify with religion,” said Fricchione, who went on to explain that it is a complex and intimate issue that happens to many people within the LGBTQ+ community. “This struggle between love and faith seems to be something a lot of people wanted to talk about,” she said.

At the coffeehouse, the conversation transitioned into a discussion on the intersectionality of identifying as gay and as Catholic and the possibility of identifying as both. “Fr. Peter Martyr was asked specifically about this question and I thought he gave a great point that these identities are not opposed to one another because no matter who you are or where you come from or anything else you identify with you can be Catholic because faith transcends this boundary,” said Clarke. “Relationship with Christ is an invitation to everyone.”

“Intersectionality is the coexisting of multiple identities,” said Fricchione. “To me intersectionality is how we come together to recognize issues within our community.” Furthermore, she believes people are three dimensional, and that by recognizing multiple identities one personally has a way to begin to better understand the people next to you.

“Anyone who wants to be Catholic can be Catholic, it’s all about how you practice your faith (how you live out the Catholic teachings),” said Clarke, who explained that an important aspect of the coffee house was the chance to really listen to one another. “This transcends identity because no matter how you identify yourself, this goes for everyone who wants to live out the faith.”

Fricchione explained that clubs like SHEPARD and these conversations are extremely important resources to have on campus as they are offer support to students. “SHEPARD is a club that shows reckless pride and love for its members and I think that in itself is important,” she said. “I think SHEPARD is truly special because of our love and support we have for each other.”