Sr High Mission Trip

Author: Ed Heil
July 31, 2018

Two years does not a tradition make, however perhaps the Senior High School Mission Trip will soon become a tradition for me. This past June I, along with our High School Youth Minister Jessie Johnson, had the opportunity to join a group of 9 faith-filled high schoolers from Pax Christi as we made the trek from Minneapolis to Chicago to serve those in need on the south side of the nation’s third largest city. Known as one of the most violent areas of the country, the Chicago’s south side has made the news for its random shootings and rising homicide rates. It’s here that we found a community of people associated with St. Columbanus Catholic Church who are living in poverty and in need of basic food items. Our work for the week of June 24 was to lift up these people, and yet, by the end of our time it was us who had been most changed.

This was my second mission trip and, in full disclosure, I was having a hard time rallying myself for this one. Let’s face it, a long drive to Chicago, sleeping on the floor of a high school classroom with other volunteers, and leaving work for a week, requires some mental prep. And still, I knew from past experience that by the end of the week my passion for my Catholic faith would be super-charged and the kids in our group would hopefully return home changed.

Service has a way of working into your heart. Whether you’re stocking shelves, cleaning floors or feeding the hungry, when you give of yourself freely and lovingly to others with no expectation of a “return,” you can’t help but feel good. The magic of a mission trip is that you’re able to experience these important works of service while also drawing closer to Jesus through prayer and reflection on a daily basis. For most of us, we do not have the opportunity to give of ourselves so intentionally, for as many days in the name of Jesus Christ. When you experience this, assuming you open your heart and mind to the opportunity, you start to better understand what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.

As parents, it fills our hearts to see our kids run towards these experiences. However, serving on a mission trip isn’t like going to Flying Cloud to watch soccer games, where we send the kids off and then watch from the sidelines. As parents, I believe we actually are called to join the game. And why not? Faith formation isn’t just for kids. Paid time off is valuable and we all have issues that need daily attention. Not to mention, there are countless ways to spend a week with your child that does not include sleeping on the floor in a Catholic High School classroom. However, when you return home, the world looks a little different. You find that for a week, if you leave your personal worries and cares at the foot of the cross, and, in exchange, take up the cross in the name of Jesus Christ, He will find you and touch your heart in ways that just might change your life.


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