Living Library panelists reflect on spiritual journeys

Living Library participants were, from left, Father Derek Ducote, Bill Collins, Dr. Rondo Keele and Dr. Sharon Joy. Photos by James Stanfield

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University hosted a panel discussion on faith, religion and spirituality Oct. 4, presented by Watson Library’s Living Library Collection, a concept in which individuals share their experiences to provide a first-hand account of what the person saw or lived through.  The panels are recorded and become part of the collection at NSU’s Eugene P. Watson Library that researchers can use to supplement books, journals and other traditional resources.

“Faith, Religion and Spirituality” participants were Father Derek Ducote, a Catholic priest who is associate pastor at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception; Bill Collins, M.A., director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at NSU; Dr. Rondo Keele, a Muslim and professor of philosophy at NSU; and Dr. Sharon Joy, Jewish/unaffiliated, and retired professor of music education. Also sharing experiences were Dr. Aill Harris, senior pastor at The Abundant Life Church; Scott Lumry, a humanist, and Rev. Joel Hicks, a Lutheran minister and head of NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health.

Individuals on the panel candidly discussed their faith, spiritual paths, inner struggles and questioning of faith and how their spirituality evolved at defining points in their lives.

Program chair Deborah Huntington said the goal of the Living Library is to create an environment where individuals can share life stories through dialogue and perspectives, challenge stereotypes and gain an understanding of diverse human experiences. The next living library will take place in the Spring 2023 semester and will focus on the experiences of student-athletes.

Tuesday’s session of the Living Library was dedicated to the memory of NSU’s long-time archivist, the late Mary Linn Wernet. Dr. Vicki Parrish was emcee and moderator.

For more information on the Watson’s Living Library Collection, contact Huntington, head of Collection Development and Cataloging/assistant professor at

Living Library participants for the Oct. 4 discussion were, from left, Dr. Aill Harris, Rev. Joel Hicks, Scott Lumry and Father Derek Ducote.
Photos by James Stanfield