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Philosophy Grad to Serve Mission in Chile, France
7/29/2014

Mother Teresa said spiritual poverty is greater than physical poverty.

Recent graduate Kelsey Boor ’14 said sending people food and medicine and building schools can meet their physical needs, but the soul is the most important thing. The philosophy graduate will put her beliefs into action as a missionary for a year with the Fraternity of St. Joseph the Guardian in France and Chile.

Boor was moved by the writings on social justice from people like Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day during her Community Service seminar in the Honors Program her junior year. She read about what it means to be a Christian and to serve others as your brothers and sisters.

“I came out much more profoundly impacted than I had bargained for,” Boor said. “It made me think about how blessed I am. I’ve never gone to bed hungry. Why is it that I’m not the one standing on the corner begging?”

Through prayer and discernment, she discovered missionary work and decided to spend a year with the sisters and priests living in community in the order, Fraternity of St. Joseph the Guardian.

A diocesan priest from Chile established the new order in 2010, sponsored by a bishop in France. The community lives on 250 acres on a vineyard in France and is helping the bishop reopen the seminary there. They spend 90 days at a time traveling to the mountains or islands of Chile to do parish work and serve those who don’t have access to the sacraments, like Mass and confession.

“One of the things I love about this order is that they understand people experience physical poverty, but the soul is more important than the body,” Boor said. “If the soul is fed, then life is not a burden. Sometimes these communities are hungry physically, but they have a spiritual hunger too.”

While not in Chile, the order helps develop parish life in France, a country where many people identify as Catholics, but live a secular life.

“Half the country identifies as Catholic, but only 5 percent go to church,” Boor said. Religion is described as something nice to have, “like your grandmother’s china that you take down off the shelf for special occasions like Christmas and baptisms.”

“There’s a lot of work to be done there,” she said.

Boor is proficient in French, having studied abroad there during an exchange program during her junior year at UST.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Boor grew up in a family with a rich, Catholic faith. She was home-schooled by her mother for 13 years, so celebrating the saints, having Bible study with her friends and going to adoration were part of her daily life.

She sought out a Catholic university with a focus on liberal arts.

“I wanted the core curriculum,” she said. “I wanted to study in humanities, but I wasn’t sure what subject. I took core classes first year. I was really impressed with the size of the faculty and the quality of professors; they really know their stuff.”

Boor said many of the seeds for this mission came from her experience at St. Thomas.

“Going to Mass daily; teachers who cared about me as a person and as a Catholic; friends who prayed with me… it was a very different experience than I think I would have had anywhere else,” Boor said.

Although the order will pay for her room and board, Boor is fundraising for the cost of her plane ticket, visa and basic healthcare while on mission.

After the mission, Boor said she would like to go to grad school, because she was inspired by how her classmates’ lives have been changed by philosophy classes like metaphysics.

“My experience here, I’ve had classmates who started to believe they have a soul,” she said. “They live their lives differently, because they now believe there’s life after death.”

She wants to teach, to make a difference to even one student.

“You’re impacting their life forever,” she said, “quite literally.”

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The University of St. Thomas, dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education. St. Thomas is Houston’s only Catholic University and was founded by the Basilian Fathers in 1947.

 

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