Regis Summer Course Reflects on the Holocaust

A CHRISTIAN JOURNEY TO AUSCHWITZ May 2-10, 2012

A Course offered through Regis College, University of Toronto. Basic degree,  Advanced Degree: for credit or non-credit (Windows on Theology)

For more information or to apply, contact inquiries@RegisCollege.ca - limited enrolment (4 openings left on March 1, 2012), requires permission of instructor.

OBJECTIVES OF THE COURSE

To take a journey that challenges our Christian theology and Christian practice.

To assume the burden of the Church’s relationship with the Jewish people and those who are “other”.

To become knowledgeable about the historical events that involved the Church and the Jewish people during the time of the Holocaust. This solid grounding in historical research is essential to the course.

To study the various Christian theological responses to the Holocaust and to make a careful assessment of these responses.

To learn from the examples of Churches who co-operated with the Nazis, from Christians who were bystanders and those who were martyrs and “righteous gentiles”.

To ask the question: What does it mean to “read the signs of the times?”

To integrate the information about the Holocaust in a spirituality of humility and repentance and realistic hope.

To encounter contemporary theologians and activists in contemporary Germany who witness to the desire for redemptive justice that arises from the memory of the Holocaust.

JOURNEY WITH SPIRIT

Participants are invited to undertake this journey in a spirit of repentance and hope. For this reason we recommend that you “travel lightly” in every way. We recommend you bring only carry on luggage. (If you have further travel after the course you may leave this luggage at the Berlin Hostel.) Please consider whether you really want to bring a camera. This can get in the way of being present to the realities that we will encounter. Our accommodations and food will be simple. We will be welcome to pray in monasteries in Berlin and Auschwitz. Those not in the Toronto area for the two preparatory meetings in April may arrange to participate by Skype.

RESOURCE PEOPLE

Mary Jo Leddy Ph.D. guide and professor

Carol Rittner RSM, distinguished professor of Holocaust Studies, Stockton College, New Jersey. Professor Rittner will be a resource person on the journey.

Mary Sullivan RSM , Ecumenical Centre for Dialogue and Prayer, Auschwitz Hanns Thoma, Director Immigrant and Refugee Services, Lutheran Church in Germany. Member, The New Sanctuary Movement in Germany

Rita Thoma, former Green Party politician and active member of the Church of the Holy Cross in Kreuzberg, East Berlin (Heilig Kreuz) Theological Faculty, Institut Kirche und Judentum, Humbolt University, Berlin

REQUIREMENTS

All students taking this course for credit will be required to do preparatory readings (course package provided) and to meet twice prior to the trip. The trip of eight days is an essential requirement. The trip will include input, times for reflection and exchange, prayer services. Those taking the course for credit will meet as a seminar after the trip to refine the topic for their major paper.

Students taking the course for credit will be required to do a major paper: Basic Degree (15 pages); advanced degree (at least 20 pages). Topic and focus to be arranged in consultation with professor, after the seminar following the trip.

Admission: with permission of instructor. Participants will be required to write a 250 word statement of why they want to undertake this journey.

Participants must be registered with course fee paid by February 24, 2012. Inquire about course fees and travel expenses.

THE JOURNEY

May 2: travel to Berlin. Stay at Bel Etage (a hostel with seminar facilities in the centre of Berlin. The hostel is partially run by people with disabilities. Note that the first victims of the Nazi program were people with disabilities.). Bel Etage is also situated in Kreuzeberg, the immigrant area of Berlin.

May 3-4: Visit places of historical interest that lay groundwork for some understanding of the context of the holocaust: The Jewish Museum, House of the Wannsee Conference (where the final solution was put in place), Karmel Regina Martyrum (Carmelite convent near the prison where many who resisted the Nazis were executed e.g. Fr. Alfred Delp, SJ)

May 5-7: Auschwitz. (fly Berlin-Krakow, van to Auschwitz). Stay at Centre for Dialogue and Prayer. The staff (Mary Sullivan, RSM) will be our quide to the concentration camp and provide some input and guidance. Times of prayer and services)

May 8-9 Return to Berlin. (Bel Etage) for (1) Visits to people and projects reflecting attempts at reconciliation and the redemption of memory: Lutheran Church of the Holy Cross, Berlin, a church that supported Hitler during the war and is now the centre of the European Sanctuary movement); (2) Theological Reflection Session with professors from Institut Kirche Und Judentum at Humbolt University, Berlin.

  • How do we preach the “Good News” after Auschwitz?
  • How does Auschwitz challenge our notions of God, of Christ, of humanity?
  • How does Auschwitz summon us to prayer, thinking and action?

May 10: Return. Participants may want to continue their trip elsewhere.

Regis College is the Jesuit School of Theology in the University of Toronto and a founding member of the Toronto School of Theology.