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Summer Study Program in Fanjeaux, France 2013 (Photos)

Justin Cirisoli, director of residential life at Albertus, participated in a three-week seminar in Fanjeaux, France, for faculty and administrative staff of American Dominican colleges and universities. Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order, lived in Fanjeaux centuries ago. Cirisoli shares his Fanjeaux experience and ways in which it can be applied to residential life.

Impressions of Fanjeaux

“One of the most impressive things about the faculty/staff seminar in Fanjeaux was finding out just how similar Dominican colleges and universities are to each other. As the only staff delegate from Albertus, I had the amazing opportunity to build connections with these professionals ranging from administrative assistants to faculty members and academic deans. Through our discussions and meaningful conversations, especially around the dinner table, I came to understand just how deeply rooted our institutions are in the tradition. Many of the schools have similar traditions to those we celebrate.”

Translating the Fanjeaux Experience to Residential Life

“The Dominican charism is built on four pillars — community, prayer, study and service. These principles translate wonderfully into residential life: it can almost be said that residential life is innately Dominican without ever knowing it. I strive in my work on campus to foster community in the residence halls, promote study through quiet hours that were designed to promoted the academic mission of the College and, of course, service. Residential Life has participated in various service projects, such as Relay for Life and the American Diabetes Association Walk.

“After Fanjeaux, I decided to incorporate the tradition into the residential life programming model to help our students understand the charism and what it means to be Dominican. Our Resident Assistant staff of 12 is now required to incorporate the pillars into four separate programs that they perform throughout the year in their residential communities.”

Sharing With Students and Others

“I participated in a forum this fall for the College community with Elizabeth McGarry, the Albertus student representative at the Fanjeaux gathering. I spoke of how this experience shaped me, and also how we can promote the Dominican Tradition on the Albertus campus. We hear that we are a Catholic College in the Dominican Tradition and, at times, that can be lost on our community, students especially. Sr. Anne Kilbride, O.P., has done a wonderful job bringing ‘Dominicanism’ to the forefront here, but we, as this Catholic College in the Dominican tradition, have the responsibility, as a community, to incorporate the spirit of St. Dominic and St. Albert the Great and other Dominicans into our daily work and interactions with students. St. Catherine of Siena said, ‘If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.’”

For three weeks, Justin Cirisoli, director of residential life, and Elizabeth McGarry '14 traveled to Fanjeaux, France with ten American Dominican colleges and universities. In Fanjeaux, they learned about the history and charism of the Dominican Order in the town where St. Dominic once lived. They also traveled throughout the region to various sites of historical importance in both French and Dominican history.