Spanish Mystics Class Teaches Lesson to Notre Dame Middle School

By Anna Concannon

Dr. Anne Pasero’s Spanish Mystics poetry class is a second year Honors seminar that meets weekly to learn what mysticism is, and about various Spanish mystic poets, such as St. Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola, and read their work. The class listened to several guest speakers from campus, such as Campus Ministry, who are knowledgeable about Ignatian spirituality.

Maggie Stang is a sophomore studying International Affairs and is one of the honors students in Dr. Pasero’s class. Maggie said, “We read poems and talk about the different characteristics of mystic poets. At the end we pick a mystic from any faith tradition and present on them.” What is most unique about this class is the Service Learning component. The nine students in the class prepared and delivered a presentation for sixth grade students at Notre Dame Middle School. The Marquette students discussed what mysticism is, who the mystic poets are, and why it is important to the Catholic faith. This information was new to the middle school students; however, the topic meshed well with their theology and history content.

When asked about her impressions of the presentations at Notre Dame, Maggie said, “It was great. At first, I was nervous because we were trying to make it fun and appeal to sixth graders about this topic. Teaching is always a little nerve-racking; but it was a good way for us to go into a space we hadn’t been before, getting out of our comfort zone. And the students were really attentive and super quick. We did a game afterwards and asked questions like, “Where was St. Theresa of Avila from?” and students would say the answer right away before we even listed the possible answers.”

This Service Learning presentation was a culminating project at the end of the year, which required students to synthesize what information was most important for them to know. They also had to tailor it in a way that was valuable to an audience of middle school students. Maggie believes the presentation was beneficial to Notre Dame because, “Even if they don’t remember who St. Teresa or St. John of the Cross are, I think they now have an understanding of why mysticism is relevant and why Marquette pays attention to Ignatian spirituality.”


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