This spring break, a record 90 Christendom College students—25% of the Front Royal campus student body—went on mission trips. Since 1999, over 700 students, 30 faculty and staff, and 20 alumni have been sent on both domestic and international mission trips. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the program sent missionaries to the Dominican Republic (D.R.), Guatemala, Peru, and New York City.
In the D.R., 24 students, along with two staff members, worked in the small village of Hato Viejo where they installed concrete floors in houses, which will keep houses much cooler than dirt floors and also give the families more dignity in their dwellings. In Guatemala, 34 students and four staff members installed a water pump in a remote mountain village, El Terrero. Now, thanks to their efforts, the inhabitants of the village no longer need to walk for hours down a mountain to fetch their water for the day. In Peru, 13 students and one staff member traveled to work with the Missionary Servants of the Poor of the Third World. In New York, 14 students went to the Bronx to work with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at their homeless shelter for men.
Mission Trips Program coordinator and philosophy professor Mike Brown says that they started the program to challenge students to dedicate their spring breaks on service to others instead of focusing their breaks on themselves.
“The response has been overwhelming,” he says. “Our students are incredibly generous—they love to give, they love to serve and to help those less fortunate than themselves, and this love of service is rooted in their love for Jesus and the Church.”
Brown says that the Mission Trips Program has been a real blessing and source of many graces for both the students and the College.
“Mother Teresa once said that if a person wants to know Jesus then there’s no better place to go to than to the poor,” he says. “I believe our students have indeed experienced the truth of this saying; their encounter with real poverty and real need has been eye-opening and a life-changing experience for many. They have been able to encounter Our Lord in a way in which they have never known Him before.”
Over the past 15 years, ten different countries have been destinations for missionaries: Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Dominican Republic (D.R.), Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, Australia, and San Lucia.
Besides the missionary trips offered during academic break, students assist those in need on a local level through the student club Outreach. 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.