More than 60 students, faculty, alumni and members of local faith and mental health caregiving communities gathered at Saint John’s for the STAR-Lite training on October 5th, 2018. Over the course of the day-long seminar, attendees learned about various types of trauma, cycles of victimhood and violence, models of resilience and restorative justice, as well as their application in individual and community settings.
STAR, or Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience, was conceived and developed in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Over time, the training has expanded across the country and came to Minnesota with the MN Peacebuilding Leadership Institute’s founder and executive director, Donna Minter. Minter herself facilitated the training, along with Crixell Shell. In its fullest form, STAR is a five-day training that, according to the Institute, is an “evidence-based, research and practice supported, multicultural training integrating neurobiology, trauma healing and resilience, restorative justice, nonviolent conflict transformation and broadly defined spirituality that is accessible to individuals from diverse personal, educational and professional backgrounds.” The STAR-Lite training serves as a one-day introduction to raise awareness and help professionals recognize the signs of trauma as well as key stages on the path of transformation.
Saint John’s School of Theology professor, Kathleen Cahalan brought the training to campus as part of her course on Pastoral Care: Guiding and Reconciling. The training served as a transition point for the course between exploring theologies and strategies for forgiveness and the practice of guiding through trauma. Asked how she chose to incorporate STAR-Lite into her course, Cahalan noted: “The study of trauma has expanded significantly in recent years and there is important research that people in ministry need to be informed about in order to respond to people in need, such as the ACE Study
(Adverse Childhood Experiences). Much of what we know now about addictions, abuse, and some physical and emotional illnesses is that they are tied to trauma experiences when we are young. We are fortunate to have STAR-Lite Trainers in the Twin Cities and it was a wonderful opportunity to bring them to the Saint John’s community.” Understanding the fundamentals of trauma and resilience are an important asset for caregivers to offer understanding and support in the face of trauma's effects on individuals and their communities.
The training was supported by Victor Klimoski Endowment for Lifelong Learning, the CSB/SJU Counseling Department, the Department of Theology, Campus Ministries, Peace Studies Department, and the Spiritual Care Department at CentraCare Health.