On April 10, Beverly Cultural Center hosted an outdoor workshop on Creating a Culture of Friendship. We gathered on the tennis court to listen to an opening presentation by our guest speaker, local author Mary Lea Carroll about Virtuous Friendships. In her books, Saint Everywhere and Somehow Saints, Carroll recounted her travels to the shrines of various saints, weaving in their life stories with her own charming commentary. Carroll’s refreshingly good-humored narrative makes each saint more accessible. Along with discussing their devotion to their faith, Carroll also writes about each saint’s personality and different quirks, giving them more dimension and helping us realize that they were humans just like us, and how we can emulate them in our daily lives. In keeping with the day’s theme, Carroll also taught us that some saints were friends in real life. For instance, St. Frances Cabrini met and gave counsel to St. Katharine Drexel, both of whom were, as Carroll put it, “Quite the real estate magnates,” referring to their various property investments used for building schools and other charitable organizations.
After Mary Lea Carroll’s presentation, we began breakout discussions on the different tenets of friendship: Intellect, Will, and Emotions. ‘Intellect’ is understanding the good, ‘will’ is making the decisions to do good things, and ‘emotions’ are the feelings that bond us. With constant distractions and busy schedules, quality time to develop deep connections can be hard to come by. We all agreed that it is worthwhile to continue developing true, deep friendships that fulfill all three tenets. Working on our individual connections and strengthening our relationships is a daily practice that requires us to set aside our own distractions and truly take the time to get to know each other in an authentic way. This means listening to understand, not to respond, and using our will to translate our love into deeds. While making deep friendships in a modern age can be a difficult task, workshops like this encourage us to be more intentional about how we approach relationships, helping us strengthen our current friendships and build new ones along the way.