Teens serve on mission trip

As the 2014-15 school year began to wind down, I suddenly found myself without an answer to a very import question: “What will my summer plans be now that I’m about to finish my freshman year of college?”

All around me, my friends were finalizing details about summer jobs, internships, trips, classes and study abroad. Being at Villanova, outside Philadelphia, far from home only made the whole planning process more difficult for me.

When I heard that the CYO at my home parish, St. Clement of Rome in Metairie, was planning its first mission trip, I jumped at the opportunity to help a group that helped me build my spiritual foun- dation only a few years before as a high school student.

Claire Gallagher, St. Clement of Rome’s youth minister, was taking a joint group of young missionaries from St. Clement and St. Francis of Assisi Uptown to serve our brothers and sisters in and around Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Jesuit Parish in San Antonio, Texas.

Given the large Hispanic population in the parish, our daily Masses alternated between Spanish and English. During our week, we participated in various capacities in the parish and the greater San Antonio area. We spent time with the parish senior citizens at their weekly exercise and recreational meeting, visited children with special needs at the Respite Care of San Antonio, labeled canned vegetables and harvested fruits and vegetables at the San Antonio Food Bank and painted rooms to be renovated at St. Peter and St. Joseph’s (St. PJ’s) Children’s Home.

We also visited the Seton Home for young mothers and their children, where Claire, also a Zumba instructor, gave a Zumba class for the moms while we played with their children. In addition, we painted shelves and laid down gravel on the grounds of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The St. Clement/St. Francis CYO got to know Our Lady of Guadalupe’s youth group a little better by inviting them to a taco dinner one night.

Having journeyed on medical mission trips to Nicaragua in the past, this more local service destination was a new experience for me in that we were not limited to one specific type of volunteer work, but instead served in a variety of ways.

And being 1 1/2 years older, I took on a few adult responsibilities, even supervising younger missionaries. I was also more keenly aware of the interactions between the young missionaries from two different parishes, who had not even known each other’s names before the trip, and I witnessed their growth in fellowship through the service we performed together. Like Jesus, the adults and youth on the mission trip shared our faith in service to others. 

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