Religious Studies Fall2010

During fall 2010, students in the class Latino/Latina Religions are documenting the history of St. Mary’s College for Women and Pre-GED school at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the Episcopal Cathedral in Dallas, which is experiencing a surge in Latino parishioners. Through work in the archives, interviews with Pre-GED School students and volunteers, and ethnographic work with the parish, the class will produce a history of the church and its programs that will enable the congregation to better understand its multicultural make-up, the historic trends that led to this make-up, and the relationship between the church, its programs and the surrounding community.

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Sorting through dusty records

Jack.jpg An update from Jack, a junior accounting major and cinema-television minor:

As part of our ongoing service learning with St. Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral, our class has been afforded the privilege of sifting through the church’s archives. These dusty rooms are home to a wealth of fascinating details about the church’s history. The archives hold a range of information, from decades of marriage records to old 8×10 photographs of St. Matthew’s and Dallas in the 1930s and ’40s.

We have been tasked with beginning the important process of preserving these documents, photos and objects using proper archival methods and materials. The documents include church ledgers, academic marks received by students that attended St. Mary’s Episcopal College, old newsletters and relevant newspaper clippings.

As we work on organizing and preserving the history of the parish, we will use the documents and photos to help us better understand the progression of St. Matthew’s over time. The knowledge we glean from examining these records helps us understand the parish, and it aids our ongoing work with the parishioners. Using the archives, personal interviews and contextual information about Dallas during the past several decades, our final presentation in December to St. Matthew’s is bound to be a charged and exciting event for all involved.

This service learning experience has already been deeply gratifying. Translating our reading and class discussion into tangible hands-on experiences has greatly enriched my appreciation of the course content and has allowed me to see and participate in a part of the Dallas community that I never would have on my own.

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