As part of Stony Brook University’s Interfaith Center, the Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) has a long tradition of offering community service and volunteer opportunities for students to develop their social justice and leadership skills while strengthening their faith. This year, the CCM decided to expand their goodwill and service to an international audience.
Just days after ringing in the New Year, students from the Catholic Campus Ministries from Stony Brook, Adelphi and Hofstra teamed up for a nine-day Winter Break Mission Trip to General Cepeda, Mexico. The goal of the international mission was to improve the quality of life for those less fortunate and to bring the celebration of religious services to the people of the area. What they brought were the gifts of smiles, laughter and joy to residents who don’t often have the pleasure of visitors to their homes.
The students spent their time fixing roofs and repairing homes. “It was such a humbling experience, to see how much we are blessed with and how much we take for granted, when there are people across the globe that only have a one room house for their six or seven person family,” said Krishanthi Devendran, a Stony Brook junior majoring in biology.
“This mission trip taught me a lot about family and faith.” Some of the team did home visitations for residents who live so far out of town that the chance to pray with others is rare. Lenny Matias, a Stony Brook junior in a pre-nursing program, was proud to help share his faith with men of the village who find it difficult to attend church. He summed up his experience in three words: love, hope and camaraderie. “People of common beliefs and attitudes can work wonders on a person,” said Matias.
The trip was arranged by the Family Missions Company, which runs missions throughout the world. Mexico is their oldest and most established mission location.
Many in the group were pleased to be able to easily navigate the language barriers.
“It was surprising how much our high school Spanish came back to us,” said Catholic Campus Minister Joanne Buonocore. “We learned a few key phrases and prayers beforehand, and of course, smiles and laughter are understood by all.”
— Joan Dickinson