Nineteen percent of the students studying on Christendom College’s Front Royal, Va., campus did missionary work during their spring break this year. The college’s robust annual mission trips program sent out 66 students, along with members of the faculty and staff, on four different mission trips across the globe. Each student was responsible for raising the funds to go on their respective mission trips, which many found to be life-changing experiences.
Twenty students and two staff members, traveled to Guatemala where they were led by college chaplain Fr. Donald Planty and worked with the Missionary Sisters of the Poor Jesus at a hospital for malnourished children and visited their families. The group shared daily Mass and morning and evening prayers and spent several days cutting firewood for cooking, a day at a clinic for sick children in the mountains, and went on pilgrimages to the Shrine of the Black Christ at Esquipulas and to the tomb of St. Pedro de Betancur in Antigua.
“The mission trip bore great fruit in active charity for the needy, in personal growth in grace, in fraternal charity among the missionaries, and in awareness of poverty in developing nations,” Fr. Planty said.
Twenty-one students, college alumnus Fr. Joseph Mary Brown, and one staff member went to Jamaica to work with the Missionaries of the Poor in Kingston at their shelters which house homeless men and women, men and women with AIDS and mental retardation, and malnourished, abandoned, and disabled children.
Senior Peter Hill said that after this trip to Jamaica, he knows that his life has been changed, as well as the lives of his classmates and the different people they encountered.
“My eyes were opened to view my own life in a radically different way, through the help of the religious brothers we were with, and the poor and suffering people with whom we interacted,” he said. “I learned to see the face of Christ in his ‘little ones’ in a profound way, and gained a new understanding and appreciation for the value of human life and dignity, regardless of deformities, mental or physical handicaps, age or any other condition.”
Fourteen students and one staff member worked in Peru with the Missionary Servants of the Poor of the Third World at their school for young women and their house for abandoned and disabled children.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” senior Emi Funai said of the mission in Peru. “The sisters’ dedication to the children at the orphanage is one of the most beautiful examples of true love that I have ever witnessed. And the joy and innocence of the girls in the orphanage touched me in a really profound way. They have so little, yet, they are so genuinely happy. It’s as if God swooped in and filled the empty parts of their hearts with His own love directly through the sisters and the other girls.”
Eleven students travelled to the Bronx to work with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at their homeless shelter for men. There, the students painted and cleaned the shelter as well as encountered the homeless on the streets of New York, giving them food and clothing.
For senior Lisa Hill, her work in New York was beautiful and humbling at the same time.
“We realized that we were there not just to serve the homeless, but to serve those who serve the homeless,” Hill said. “We were able to recognize the dignity of these suffering people and that beyond food and clothing, what these homeless men and women needed was to be loved.”
Besides the annual missionary trips offered during the spring academic break, students assist those in need on a local level through the works of mercy club. The club visits nursing homes, works at soup kitchens, sponsors canned food drives, as well as volunteers at the local Crisis Pregnancy Center. Throughout the year students respond to their school’s motto, “to restore all things in Christ,” and sacrifice their free time for those in need.
For more information or to contribute to Christendom College’s Mission Trips Program contact Mike Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.