DSCN3590CLOCKTOWERBy Dr. Bob Connelly, assistant to associate provost

I continue to marvel at those first three Sisters who came to San Antonio in 1869, out of Christian service. What else must have characterized them: flexible, innovative, persistent, adventuresome, collaborating with the community, willing to take risks, and always listening to the Spirit.

That’s how they acquired the Brackenridge property and moved their headquarters here after almost 30 years in 1897. Among other things, this provided the opportunity for the Sisters to grow in appreciation of the land and in particular, water, and also for gradually seeing the connections between Christian and Native American creation spirituality. We have 12,000 year-old evidence that people were long attracted to the Spirit Waters of the Blue Hole springs that are the source of the San Antonio River.

The sense of adventure was alive and well when I joined what was then Incarnate Word College in 1972. I soon was involved in applying my area of ethics to current issues in interdisciplinary courses with faculty from across the campus. A related effort in 1973 was brainstorming an innovative core curriculum that would introduce first-year students to the campus by focusing on issues related to the Blue Hole and the beginning of the San Antonio River; that plan didn’t work.

Another 30 years passed before the topic of water surfaced again in 2002, when for the first time, the Sisters gave voice in a Mission directive to a growing awareness about environmental issues. On Earth Day the following year, I was fortunate to be part of the burgeoning Headwaters Committee which involved UIW faculty, administrators and Sisters, and led in 2008 to the birth of the 53 acre Headwaters Sanctuary. A year later, UIW secured a Water and Culture grant to infuse water sensitivity in English and other courses.

I didn’t realize till I thought about writing this reflection just how much I have had water on my mind and in my heart since I came to Incarnate Word, and just how much the Sisters and the Spirit have been part of that. What will be the next water adventure?