Walking with the Saints
Reflection on Adelaide Teague Case
Until I was assigned this feast day reflection I had never heard of Adelaide Teague Case. Under her name was the word Teacher and the date 1936. I immediately felt more at ease knowing she was human and modern, at least compared to the disciples, and someone with whom I could relate. She was a teacher!
Adelaide received her undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr and graduate degrees from Columbia University. Upon completion of her doctorate a position was created for her and she became a full professor and the head of the department of religious education at Columbia. She is remembered for advocating a child-centered rather than teacher -centered approach to education. A model our own Child’s Garden School is based on today.
In 1941 at the height of her professional accomplishments, the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, appointed her professor of Christian Education making her the first woman to have a place as full-time faculty at the rank of professor. Case emphasized teaching children to engage in reasonable inquiry into their faith. She was a proponent of women’s ordination and was a frequent preacher in the chapel at Episcopal Theological School. She continued to teach until her death in 1948.
Students and faculty remember her contagious face in Christ, in her deep sense of humility and her seemingly boundless compassion. It was said that she was a true believer in Christ and that one saw Christ living in and through her. I think that description is one we should all aspire to. Can you imagine a world where people could see Christ living through each of us? She believed the point of practicing the Christian faith was to make a difference in the world. As an advocate for peace, she believed that Christianity had a special vocation to call people into transformed, reconciled relationships for the sake of the wholeness of the human family. She is said to have discovered these things not in educational theories but in a life of common prayer and faithful eucharistic practice.
Being like this holy woman is within the reach of us all. Perhaps not the doctorate degree nor the illustrious career but certainly in allowing the holy spirit to work through us and show Christ to others through us. Prayer is open to us and important to our daily lives and the practice of participating in the eucharist brings us closer to a transformation that can promote peace.