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Men for & with Others

Summer Mission Trip Program, 2007

 

Program Purpose

Serving as Superior-General of the world's Jesuits, Pedro Arrupe, S.J. discussed the concept of mission when he addressed alumni of Jesuit institutions in 1973.  Fr. Arrupe challenged us to be more conscious of living the gospel message, and it was from this statement that St. Xavier took its own motto, "Today our prime educational objective must be to form men and women for others; men and women who will live not for themselves, but for God and his Christ…men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men and women completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for their brothers and sisters is a farce."  Participation in our mission trips is one of many ways that students and faculty alike exemplify St. Xavier's mission.

The Mission Trip Program attempts to provide students with an outlet to concretely practice this motto of "Men and Women for Others."   The service program is a visible sign of St. Xavier's commitment to fostering a stronger global awareness among its students and faculty.   A primary purpose of this program is to educate our school community on the issues of poverty and social injustice.  More than anything else, however, the trips are transformative experiences for both our students and their chaperones.

While immersing students in a different culture, mission experiences foster a sensitivity and appreciation for the struggles of the poor and the disenfranchised.  This appreciation is becoming more and more critical in our increasingly diverse world.  Mission trips help to broaden the scope of community service to which our students are invited; they add another dimension to the moral, spiritual, and intellectual formation of our young men, and their chaperones.  Moreover, in witnessing the struggles of those in need, students begin to acknowledge the many blessings in their own lives.  In short, the mission encounters epitomize the experience of the Grad-at-Grad statement.

For a detailed description of each trip, simply click on the trip name below.

 Trip Location

 Dates

 Cost
per student

 Travel

 Chicago, IL (Pilsen Project  June 11 - 20 $425.00  Bus
 Monticello, KY  June 17 - 29 $490.00  Parents/Van
 Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati

 June 10 - 16

$325.00  Drop off
 Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati

 June 17 - 23

$325.00  Drop off
 Camden, NJ (Romero Center)  July 1 - 7 $870.00  Plane
 St. Francis, SD (Lakota)  June 13 - 22 $1,125.00  Plane
 Peru, South America  June 27 - July 19 $2,300.00

 Plane

 Ecuador, South America  June 18 - June 29 $2,200.00  Plane

 General Program Description

The Mission Trip Program is designed to fulfill its purpose through immersion, service, and reflection.  First, the program seeks to immerse students in a different culture, be it an ethnically diverse culture, a culture of poverty, or a culture of oppression.  This immersion provides them with a firsthand experience of the daily lives of most people in our world.   Second, the trips provide students with occasions to work and serve alongside individuals and families whose lives are impacted by poverty and injustice.   Finally, the Mission Trip Program combines work experiences with opportunities for prayer and reflection, which are integral aspects of the trips.  Students will engage in prayer and reflection before, during and after their mission experiences.  It is this format which sows the seeds of social and spiritual transformation.

There are several different summer mission experiences offered through this program.  All are similar in that they call students and chaperones out of their comfort zones, however, each trip touches on a variety of different social and cultural issues:

  •   Chicago Illinois (Pilsen Project)
  •   Monticello, Kentucky
  •   Over-the-Rhine (Two trips)
  •   Ecuador, South America (Rostro de Cristo)
  •   Camden, New Jersey, (The Romero Center)
  •   St. Francis, South Dakota (St. Francis Mission)
  •   Peru, South America

On each of these mission experiences, St. Xavier is aided by various people and organizations with whom we have been working for many years.  These individuals and organizations serve as local contacts, coordinating living arrangements and work projects for our students.  Each of these trips occurs during the months of June or July and they range from one to five weeks in duration.  The specifics of the trip, such as living accommodations, may change depending upon the needs of our hosts.

Prior to their departure, mission trip students will attend a series of orientations in order to prepare themselves for their summer experiences.   Following the trips, students will gather to prepare a formal presentation of their experiences.   Participants are expected to share their experiences with the entire St. Xavier community through presentations, liturgies, classroom discussions, and informal story-telling.  They are expected to participate in the continuing effort to educate their classmates and others about issues related to their experiences.  It is important that the experiences of these students have an impact on the larger community of St. Xavier High School.

The benefits of the mission experiences include movement and insight in the areas of personal growth and self-discovery, simplicity, humility, tolerance, openness to the gift of faith, a willingness to stand for one's beliefs, and an appreciation for the dignity of the "least of my brothers and sisters."   The Mission Trip Program creates an arena in which students and chaperones will be inspired, through their relationships with those in need, to investigate the issues of injustice, poverty, and oppression.  The hope, then, is that their understanding of these issues becomes incorporated into the actions and spirituality of their daily lives.  Ideally, students' participation in the mission trips moves our community closer to Jesus' vision of the Kingdom of God.

Program Expenses and Financial Support

The mission experiences vary in cost.  lnternational trips are significantly more expensive than the domestic ones.  We make every attempt to minimize the cost of the trips.  Much of the expense, such as travel costs, are not within our control.  Due to State of Ohio travel regulations, some trips will travel by Greyhound bus to their destination.

The cost for each mission trip is determined on a "per student" basis.   The student and his family are expected to contribute the entire cost of the trip.  Please note, however, that financial aid is available.  We recognize that Mission Trips can be costly, and the school seeks to aid those students who have legitimate need.  Students who have concerns about the cost of the trips should not hesitate to speak with someone in the Community Service Department.

Application Process

Each applicant is required to submit an essay explaining both his reasons for wanting to participate in a mission experience and how he might contribute to the student group.   This essay is a key aspect of the application process; students should spend some time constructing it.   Two brief written teacher evaluations are also necessary.  Students are asked to apply for two trips, ranking their preference--i.e. #1 Over-the-Rhine, #2 Lakota.  If a student is selected to participate on a trip, in most cases he will receive his first selection.  COMPLETED APPLICATIONS ARE DUE TO THE COMMUNITY SERVICE DEPARTMENT NO LATER THAN TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27TH. STUDENTS WHO WISH TO PARTICIPATE ON A MISSION TRIP MUST SUBMIT THEIR APPLICATIONS BY THIS DATE.

After submitting applications, students will be scheduled for interviews.   Each applicant will hold a brief, individual conversation with chaperones for the trip to which he is applying.   Applicant interviews will take place on  March 12th and  March 13th.

Each year there are more applicants than openings available.   We would like very much to be able to place every student on a mission trip, however, this is not a reality.   Please also keep in mind that there are several additional opportunities for service throughout the year.  We will work with you as much as possible in order to ensure that you have a positive experience of community service, even if it's not on a mission trip.

A more detailed description of each trip follows.   Additional information is available in the Community Service Department. Remember that completed applications are due to the Community Service Department by Tuesday, February 27, 2007.

 

The following journal excerpts are taken from student mission trip participants.   Regular journaling and reflection are integral aspects of each trip.

  • "Today our group split into two groups: one group went to Effie's home to paint.   Our group went to Dianne and Frank's home.   Frank has terminal lung cancer and is expected to live only six months.  As I was painting their home, I realized that life is so precious and that we should live it as fully as we can.  I was also thankful for having the opportunity to share some time with both of them.  I really understood how much more people mean to me--my family, my friends, my colleagues on this trip--than anything I could possible acquire in life."
  • "We came to Over-The-Rhine thinking we were going to change it dramatically, but over time, we found the change was occurring in ourselves rather than the neighborhood around us.   The most prominent realization I came upon was one I never thought of.   The core problems associated with OTR are not race related.  They are poverty related.  Wherever poverty exists, crime, drugs, conflict and violence follows.  The real Over-the-Rhine that I encountered was a poverty-stricken neighborhood of good people who have bad luck.  Many were born into their poor conditions and will live their whole lives in poverty.  We should focus on what the cause of all these recent disturbances has been: the long history of poverty in the OTR community.  We are called by God to live more simply, to give not from our excess, but from our need.  Let us as Catholics and Christians live simply, so that others may simply live."
  • "It has been a solid Lakota belief that the liver of the buffalo is to be considered as medicine; it cleanses the body.   The elder distributed the liver to all that were present, including many Indian children and the St. Xavier visitors…when taken into full perspective, I see striking similarities in the Catholic ritual I celebrate every Sunday with the one celebrated on the plateau in South Dakota.   After such an experience, one cannot help but hold the Eucharist in a more concrete understanding than ever felt before, at least for my young teenage mind still learning the complexities of my faith."
  • "I met a boy named Marcus and I really connected with him….We tossed a Frisbee for awhile, talking about music and the Reds.    I eventually pointed out the Carew   Tower, high above the Cincinnati skyline.  I asked Marcus if he had ever been up there before.  He asked me what I was talking about.  I tried to explain to him that I was looking at the tallest building in downtown Cincinnati.  He did not even know where it was and he had never even heard of it.  I just fell silent for a moment, realizing the lack of opportunities these kids have.  Many of them cannot afford the simplest things, or cannot even get out of their neighborhood to experience other things.  Marcus made me realize how lucky I was."

Please note:  The dates and costs listed may change slightly depending on specific travel arrangements.

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