The Catholic University of America

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Mission Trip Program Celebrates 15 Years

As the academic year comes to a close, the Office of Campus Ministry is eager to celebrate another year of growth, discovery, and fellowship. Looking back over the past seven months, change has undoubtedly crept into all of our lives. Whether we enter the last weeks of the semester ready to move on to new adventures, fervent to rest, or with hesitant fear, it is easy to recognize the moments of the past two semesters that challenged us to change who we are and how we see things.

This change has been made tangible for the past 15 years through the mission trip program. Currently, mission trips travel twice a year to Jamaica, Belize, the Dominican Republic, and El Paso, Texas. More than 700 students have participated in mission trips, serving in more than 10 different countries and two states since the program began in 2001 with one trip to Guatemala.

The most recent participants of the spring break mission trips returned just a few weeks ago. They spent their breaks living and serving within the communities of East Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Kingston, Jamaica. Through ministering to children, the elderly, the abandoned, and the needy, Catholic University students gave themselves for one week to the friends they encountered so far from home. They entered into relationships and, thus, encountered the global church community in a personal way.

Seniors Monica Rivera and Sarah Maffei teach on mission in the Dominican Republic.

But why do we go on mission? Why travel so far to help others when we could walk down the street and do so in our own backyards?

After 15 years, Catholic University has left its mark all over the world. We have walked with countless individuals and brought the Gospel to life through action. In many ways, we are a society that measures success based on results. For mission trips, those results are harder to measure. Do we change the world? No. Have we saved anyone in dire need of help? Probably not. What we have done, though, is invited more than 700 individuals to step outside their comfort zones and encounter Christ in those they meet. We have washed feet, shaved faces, taught classes, smiled, laughed, and danced for countless hours with new friends. That is not something you measure with numbers. That is something that changes your life and the way the world appears to you forever.

Our results, instead, can be measured in the kind of people our students grow to become. Since mission trips began, students choosing to participate in a long-term service of some kind have almost tripled. The reality is that service is becoming an important part of who a graduate from The Catholic University of America is, and many of those first experiences can be traced back to mission trips.

Senior Peter Kuebler and Junior Ben Pesante volunteer during P.E. class in the Dominican Republic.

Mission trips are a step on the road to a continued relationship with Jesus, and subsequently, the poor. After 15 years of travel and learning, it is time to celebrate and look forward to extending our love of the Lord across the globe.