In late June I received a note from a college student which, with her permission, I’m reproducing below. But first, the backstory. Last spring I received a request from her for some support for a mission trip she was planning, sponsored by the campus ministry at her school, SUNY New Paltz. After checking out the legitimacy of the request, including an e-mail to the campus minister and some correspondence directly with her, I decided it was a legitimate use of the money you contribute. And I matched from my own funds what I gave from the parish.
Fast-forward to an envelope arriving in June. In it were pictures and the following note:
Dear Father Vin,
Well it’s all concluded. Months of meetings, fundraising, praying, all led up to a trip of a lifetime. I still haven’t processed all the miracles I witnessed in the 13 days in the Dominican Republic, but I will try to share a little of the experience with you. In the short time I was in the DR with my team, our eyes and minds were opened to a beautiful country and culture, our arms were open to embrace people and projects to help enrich communities, and our hearts were filled with joy and love. We were able to assist with not only renovations of a school, but also work on a chapel in an area of need. Aside from this, we were able to visit four different schools. Also my campus minister chose me to join him for a day to visit a school in Haiti. There we visited children we had been fundraising and praying for. I really want to thank you for supporting this trip and contributing to the growth of my team. I cannot express how grateful I am for your assistance. You not only helped change my life but your contributions helped change the lives of many in the DR and Haiti. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ve included some photos in hope you can experience a little bit of the DR and Haiti.
Thank you, Christina Gigante, SUNY New Paltz ♥
You should know that your contributions helped make this life-changing trip possible. You should also know that many young people are like Christina, primed to be touched by the needs of others. And you should know that campus ministry on secular campuses is in the business of changing lives in just this way.
There’s so much good – in people (young and not-so-young), in the church’s ministries, in the world. And we can miss it, especially if we let the bad-news stories of the “if-it-bleeds-it-leads” sorts of media fill our heads with a warped picture of the world. (People exposed to lots of stories of violent crime in the media, for example, think such crimes are more common than the data show they in fact are.)
September is the time lots of things are getting started again around the parish. Let’s start off focused on good news and the good things it’s possible for us to accomplish during the coming year. We say that our mission is to “Change lives through the Risen Christ”: This is just one story of how that happens. We can make sure that there are lots more stories to tell a year from now. Your daily discipleship, and your generosity with time, talent, and treasure, make a difference. Until next week, peace.