who’s been on a mission trip agrees: they go to
give, but they end up receiving even more. On Fr.
Michael Sliney LC’s father-son and father-daughter mission trips, the opportunity
for kids to spend meaningful time with their dads is
perhaps just as worthwhile as the good they are able
to do for others on the mission.
“There are plenty of
opportunities to go to a football game together, but it’s
difficult to find truly meaningful activities, where the children have
a chance to see their dads serving and praying and
being witnesses,” says Br. James Wilson LC, who accompanied a
mission to El Salvador in December. “The boys and their
dads were able to share their faith together in another
country, sharing what unites us more than anything else: our
love for God.”
A group of 26 dads and sons joined Fr.
Michael and Br. James for the El Salvador mission. Most
of them hailed from the Washington D.C. area, with a
few joining from New York as well.
They visited 4 villages
for door-to-door missions in the mornings (accompanied by ECyD members
serving as translators), and confession, Mass, and children’s activities in
the afternoons. On the last day, they distributed more than
1 ton of goods – mostly shoes and soccer equipment
– that they had collected before the mission.
The goal of the
mission was to help the people prepare for Christmas, but
the missionaries themselves found that they had a lot to
learn from the faith and joy – even in the
midst of poverty – of the people they visited.
“Coming down here and seeing not just poverty but also
faith in its rawest form is eye-opening,” said Finn Kirvan,
a 7th grader from Kensington, MD. “Not all the world
is our safe haven of Kensington.”
The missionaries agreed that the
trip was a perfect preparation for Christmas; as Norman Harrison
told the people,
“I feel very blessed to be here. I
thought that I was coming to be of service to
you, but I’ve learned from you what the true meaning
of Christmas is: that Jesus was poor, but with a
richness of heart. Thank you for being part of my
Christmas blessing this year!”
Although the word ‘missionary’ brings to mind
a journey to a far-off place, opportunities for mission work
are closer to home than you might think. Fr. Michael
and Br. James have organized mission trips in the US,
and they’re planning more.
Over Columbus Day weekend, it
was the girls’ turn to go on a mission with
dad – this time to the French Quarter of New
Orleans. The missionaries volunteered at a school for underprivileged kids;
cleaning, painting, and fixing up a month after Hurricane Isaac.
There are also two more mission trips already on
the calendar for this summer: a father-son mission to the
Crow Reservation in Montana in June, and a family mission
to the southwest Philadelphia area in July.
“All the missions have the
same goal in mind,” Br. James explains; “To give families
the opportunity to share meaningful time together, to share their
faith, and to make a positive impact on others.”