Catalan Archives - St. Stephen's University

One dream for many

By | 2016, Europe | No Comments

Whether it is the dream of a continent, a nation, or a community, people are drawn together in order to work towards a greater goal which will give their life meaning. The construction of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was the dream of the deceased Catalan man, Antoni Gaudi. It is now well over a century since the construction of the Sagrada Familia began and I questioned its very existence. Why are we chasing the dream of a deceased man? Why are we building a church of such grandeur when there are people begging for food just down the road? Who is paying for the completion of a dead man’s dream? My judgement was clouded by negative assumptions and ignorance towards the project which filled me with anger and self righteousness. It did not occur to me for a second that this dream was bigger than him, or that others shared his dream, or even that I could share his dream.

Mindlessly strolling down the busy streets of Barcelona I caught a glimpse of a mountain peaking over the buildings. As we got closer trees began to form on the mountain. Then all of a sudden, we were standing in front of the most beautifully carved mountain, located in the heart of Barcelona. Each rock face told a story and each tree was illuminated by the light reflecting off of hundreds of stained glass flowers. After walking into the mouth of the cave tears filled my eyes. Beauty of this kind was a myth to me until that second. The trees above me reflected every color, the birds were singing, and light was breaking through the leaves and shining down on me. This was the moment that I knew why the dream of a deceased Catalan man was so important. Our world needs this kind of beauty and this kind of beauty would never exist if it were not for the dreams of individuals who decide to share them with us. The Sagrada Familia was the dream of one man, today it is the dream of millions, and tomorrow the world will celebrate in its completion. We have to take back our dreams and share them with the world.

Adios Barcelona!

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

Below is an update from the Europe 2011 crew.

Today we said ‘Adios’ to Barcelona, our one stop in Spain. Since arriving, we have explored a variety of ancient and modern sites, architecture, and art. Susan di Giacomo, an anthropologist who works in Barcelona, guided us through part of the city, starting at Santa Maria del Mar, a jewel in Catalan architecture, and ending at the Catalan Parliament where she gave us a brief history of Catalonia as well as a glimpse into the current tensions in preserving the Catalan identity. Later that day, a group of students went to Omnium Cultural, an organization that is devoted to the practical application of preserving this identity. We had time to explore the city on our own, but for the most part were guided to some of the important sites around Barcelona for their religious, cultural, artistic, and/or political significance.

Our days have brought us to many sacred spaces. Some experienced this sacred space while sitting in Sagrada Familia, looking with wide eyes to the ceiling like a forest canopy carved out of stone, while others experienced it on a long hike to the top of one of the rounded mountains at Montserrat.  For some, it was while wandering in silence around the Barcelona Cathedral observing the ornate architecture and stained glass and others while sitting in the Montserrat Basilica listening to the ethereal voices of the boys’ choir. Some experienced it while exploring the ancient Roman ruins under the streets of Barcelona in the City Historical Museum and others while observing the artistic style of Picasso as it developed throughout his life, or wandering through Park Guell and being surrounded by nature, both in the literal sense as well as its influence in much of the architecture. We have discussed and contemplated the idea of being pilgrims, open to the collective and individual journeys God is calling us to and have been overwhelmed by the opportunity to be on this journey, in the company of good friends, with many laughs and of course good food and drink! There is a general atmosphere of positivity and excitement for what has been and what is in store for us in this journey.

Europe 2011 Leadership Team


By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

Flight-wonderful, airplane food-airplane food, weather-perfect, sites-life changing. But alongside  all great things there are glitches, so here are some things that force us to remain flexible when things get turned around on us on our trip through Western Europe.

So the flight to Barcelona was great, but we ended up waiting for our bus driver for a couple of hours because his cell phone died (not his fault), and we forgot to tell him what terminal to pick us up from. 38 hungry, tired people waiting for a bus that might not come gave us an appreciation of just how important our bus will be to us for the next 2 months.

Next stop, grocery store to get food to feed those 38 people as we cook our own meals. We pull in to Carrefour, a chain store in Europe, only to find it closed for Pentecost Monday. A cab driver speaking only Catalan pointed us in the direction of possibly the only grocery store open in the area (lots of gesticulations, and repeated use of the word “rotonda,” which means traffic circle). We eventually find it and get our groceries, but get lost trying to find our way to the campground (encountering lots of rotondas).

Gracious to have finally arrived at the campground, we discover that we’re short one tent, one breaks in setup, and another is falling apart, so we share tents until we can buy some.

I won’t go on much longer, but over the next couple of days, Gregg got us kicked out of a Cathedral, the internet at the campground chose when to let us use it, and the grocery store wouldn’t take our credit card (oh yeah, and a rotonda outside a zoo refused to let us pick up our students there).

So, sometimes we get turned around.