Students Serve the Poor and Hungry During Spring Break

March 22, 2007

During Christendom College’s Spring Break, instead of relaxing, 32 students went on missionary trips to New York City and the Dominican Republic.

Sophomore Dean Reineking went to the Dominican Republic and with 19 fellow students built a chapel, painted two other chapels, and finished building a porch for the parish center that takes care of medical groups and other special needs.

“The people were great so hospitable.” Reineking said. “They would bring us lunch everyday—usually rice and beans.”

Freshman Krystle Schuetz, who also went to the Dominican Republic agreed. “The people were so kind. The day we were leaving we were walking down to the river with some the children whom we had gotten to know over the week and one of them asked us, ‘When are you coming back?’ So we said that we would try and come back next year. Then he asked, ‘Would you like to live here?’ And we said that we would but that we needed to go to school. We saw how much an impact we had made—they didn't want us to leave,” she said.

"A typical day started at 6:00 am,” Schuetz continued. “We would walk a mile to church and, after a breakfast of eggs and bread, we would load up the truck with some supplies and ride about 10 miles on dirt roads—that was always a lot of fun.”

Schuetz said that they would start working around 8:00 and the day would end around 3:00, after which they would return to the village and swim in the river, have dinner, and then play with the kids all evening.

“We taught them ‘duck-duck-goose,’” she said, “but we got lost in translation and played ‘pavo-pavo-ala’ which means, ‘turkey-turkey-wing.’ So now the kids play ‘turkey-turkey-wing’ in the Dominican Republic.”

Both Reineking and Schuetz recommend the experience to others. “It was a moving experience and this was my second time,” Reineking said. “This year gave me a lot of time for reflection. Life in a third world country is so different from our day-to-day lives.”

The students impressed Fr. Gee of St. Catherine’s Church in the Arlington Diocese who runs the mission in the Dominican Republic. “It’s the first time students have finished a chapel from ground up in one week. The students were great.”

Fr. Gee is working with Christendom Mission Trips Coordinator and Professor Mike Brown to set up a missionary program next summer, which would provide 10-15 students with the opportunity to spend an entire summer in the Dominican Republic.

Freshman Mary Kate Hunt went to New York City and stayed at the Monastery of the Confraternity of the Precious Blood in Brooklyn and worked with the Missionaries of Charity. With 11 other students, she handed out sandwiches to the hungry and helped cleaning facilities for the sick.

"We would have adoration every night with the sisters and during the day we would carry fifteen or so sandwiches and walk through the major parks and other places handing the sandwiches out to those who needed them,” she said.

Sophomore Jessica Kuznia also went to New York. “It was shocking to see the homeless people at first,” Kuznia said, “but then we learned to see Christ in them. And as the trip went on we saw some very moving things. We would give a sandwich to one person and then offer another but he would refuse it and direct us to another person who had not yet had one.”

"These are people who have nothing,” Hunt said, “and I don’t know if I would behave the same had I been in their situation. It was a real eye-opening experience. You really learn how blessed you are and how silly the little things you complain about are.”

"Now every time we go to New York we’ll bring something with us to give to the homeless people that we meet,” Kuznia said.

Every year Christendom offers its students the opportunity during Spring Break to go on missionary trips, and each year students respond to their school’s motto, to restore all things in Christ, and sacrifice their free time for those in need.





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