Our week of service with St. Bernard Project in New Orleans is coming to a close. Forty-two students and their chaperones from 8 Ursuline high schools across the country have learned to put up dry wall, lay flooring and base boards, and use all kinds of tools and equipment. We’ve worked in the high heat and humidity of summer in New Orleans. We’ve served Carmelita, Gwen, and the Yuan family not only by our labor, but by our presence, concern, and Ursuline spirit of serviam which is palpable here this week. We have offered hope to people whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Katrina and its myriad consequences. They, in turn, have offered so much more to us. We’ve reflected on and sometimes wrestled with questions such as: Why did I come on this trip? What did I hope to gain from the experience? What justice issues stand out for me? Why? In what ways has this experience helped me to see that all people are bound together in a common humanity? How has my understanding of people and situations which are different from mine changed? What person am I taking home with me in my heart? How will I be different as a result of this experience?
These words of Saint Angela came alive for us this week:
“Think of yourselves as being servants and helpers . . . with greater need of serving than of being served.”