A record-setting 30% of the Christendom student body, along with a number of faculty and staff, participated in this year’s spring break mission trip program from March 6-15, traveling around the world to places in South America, Central America, and the United States. From feeding the homeless to building a schoolhouse, over 130 participants were able to expand their own life experience and gain a better understanding of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy that are an essential part of the Catholic lifestyle.
“The enthusiasm, the spiritual witness, and the dedication of the students who participated was truly inspiring,” says philosophy professor and mission trip coordinator Mike Brown. “They represented themselves and their faith well in all the places they went. There was a true sense of evangelization in everything they were doing.”
Students who went on missions to Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Costa Rice, Guatemala, and the Bronx this year fundraised most of the proceeds necessary to go on these trips themselves, further revealing the passion amongst the student body to give of themselves in the world. Since 1999, over 800 students, 30 faculty and staff, and 20 alumni have been sent on both domestic and international mission trips.
“It was an eye-opening experience seeing the poverty, and it was awesome to be a witness to the faith by example,” says senior Evan Casey, who served in the Dominican Republic. “Because of the simpler surroundings, it was easier to grow closer to God.”
In the Dominican Republic, twenty-three students fenced in a church, rebuilt and put down a concrete floor for a schoolhouse, and hand-carved crucifixes for the buildings. Over thirty-five participants travelled to Nicaragua this spring as well, and dug trenches for a land-pipe to supply potable water to the communities of Nancedulce. Students who traveled to Guatemala and Peru helped in similar ways, painting orphanages and evangelizing to the poor, in assisted living homes and in the streets.
Led by Father Stephen McGraw, 20 students went to a shanty town in Costa Rica to construct an organic community garden in the center of the town, for the benefit of the 50,000 inhabitants. Father McGraw and two students were also guests on a local radio show in Costa Rica and gave witness to the work that they did over the course of the week.
In North America, students who went to the Bronx to work with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal experienced the reality of a homeless shelter. They cleaned the shelter, cooked meals for the homeless, and went into the streets with the friars to give food and talk to the people.
“It inspired me to improve my ability to practice charity in a hands-on fashion,” says freshman Dominic Winters. “The best part was trying to get the people on the streets to smile.”
On a regular basis, Christendom students work with charities and nursing homes in Virginia, fundraising for crisis pregnancy centers, and aiding soup kitchens. But the mission trips program, now in its sixteenth year, provides an atmosphere of new evangelization, allowing students to experience firsthand the importance of the teaching role of the Church and her members.