Friday, April 4, 2014

Bringing Peace to Relationships with Dr. Tabor

by Jose Morales

This spring semester Dr. Ursula Tabor is offering the class Spirituality of Peacemaking. Throughout the semester she tells her students, “One has to live in peace with oneself and others…we need to think peace, speak peace and live peace.”

Dr. Tabor said, “The Spirituality of Peacemaking class is an elective class that I designed.  This class reflects my experience growing up as a young child during WWII in Germany.” In her course syllabus, she wrote that one of her goals in this course is “to search for and come to an understanding of the true meaning and spirit of non-violence and Christian peacemaking.”

Dr. Ursula Tabor in front of the Annunciation mosaic

She said that one message she wants her students to take away from the class is that “unless we learn to love ourselves as God loves us, we cannot truly love others, be compassionate, merciful, heal and bring peace to the world around us.”

Ace Tui from the Diocese of Honolulu said, “I chose this class because first the name itself stood out to me, 'peacemaking,' and in seeing this I decided that this can help me personally. [I'm] hoping that this class can give me some way of making peace within myself to be able to deal and work within the seminary community. For at times, it is hard to live in a community life.”

Tui continued, “Spirituality of Peacemaking is a good class because it shows me how to make peace in conflicts. We talk about real life experiences and share stories in class about how to make peace. We are a community from different diocese and cultures, and it is always fun to listen and learn from other people’s experience.”

Randy Hoang from the Archdiocese of Portland mentioned about the reading materials in the class: “Dr. Tabor has assigned two great books for the semester to read and reflect upon: they are I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish and The Road to Peace by Henri Nouwen.”

Hoang said he like these books because “I am able to read the books and understand the struggles people have outside of the United States, especially for those who are in warring countries. That amidst the wars and famine, these authors [were] so at peace with not only themselves but with the chaos surrounding them.”

Oscar Anaya said that in this class, he has been able to learn on how to react in a different way rather than with his frustrations. He said the textbooks used in class were very useful for him as well as the reflections they do in class. Even the role-plays have helped him see the situation from a different lens.

Anaya explained, "At times I would react with anger or get defensive when confronted by another person."

Anaya concluded by saying, “She gives us several options on how to come to a solution in times of violence, to realize how grateful we are to hear these experiences from someone who actually lived through a war."

Students in the class performed role plays to practice peacemaking skills.  The role plays consist of two parts. First, they consist of a scenario where someone is faced with a real problem with another person. Secondly, the role play offers a solution to the problem and it demonstrates to others how one would come about to a solution.  

Emilio Gonzalez from the Diocese of Fresno described one of the role-plays that was performed in class: “David Trujillo from Theology III along with other theologians [Edgar Sanchez, Ace Tupasi and Br. Charles Nawodylo, OCD] performed a role-play of a frustrated clerk at the DMV. The clerk was going through personal problems at home but then would take out his frustrations on the customers. The most amazing part of this role-play was that I was able to feel the frustrations of the clerk and the compassion of the other customer [Br. Charles].”  

Dr. Tabor mentioned that she really submerged herself in the topic of peacemaking because it was the topic for her thesis.

Dr. Tabor explained that with her living through WWII, every war has become her war and every act of terror became her experience as well. As she said, “Every death and all the suffering diminishes all of us.”  

She further explained that teaching the Spirituality of Peacemaking class is a “continuation of my ongoing personal development.” Dr. Tabor brings into this class not only her educational background but also her professional background. Peacemaking is something that Dr. Tabor not only teaches, but she promotes and practices.

Dr. Tabor shared that aside from her experience in WWII in Germany, she also has her life experience as a registered nurse. She explained that being a nurse you try to heal people physically as well as psychologically.

Dr. Tabor has a Doctorate in Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary. She also has two Masters degrees, one in Counseling Psychology from the University of Oregon and another in Theology from Mount Angel Seminary.

She wrote her thesis, “Theological Explorations of the Theodicy Question in View of World War II” at Mount Angel Seminary.  

Dr. Ursula Tabor started teaching at Mount Angel Seminary in the fall of 2004. She was the chairperson of Undergraduate Religious Studies. She taught Psychology of Human Development, Historical Introduction to Theology, Introduction to Christian Spirituality, Theological Anthropology and Spiritual Direction.

The Spirituality of Peacemaking class seeks to promote the Gospel of peace and social justice.  This class serves as a partner for parishes through seminarians, deacons and priests, to help them discover creative ways to engage in the struggle for justice. Aside from wars, Dr. Tabor said, “any kind of violence robs us of everything we are meant to be as human beings.”

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