Student Reflections: Arlington, VA & Baltimore, MD CCME 2017

It’s Ash Wednesday and today we had the last meeting before our trip! We are excited because we exceeded our fundraising and can proceed with all of our projects thanks to our benefactors!  We are looking forward to starting our journey  on Saturday and will share our thoughts and pictures along the way.  Stay tuned!

Saturday March 4, 2017

Arlington, VA and Baltimore, MD CCME 2017 Arlington here!!!  Forgot one whole cart of drinks at the store…circled the block looking for a place to eat…but we got some good thai food and are having fun! 🙂

Saturday March 4, 2017

Arlington, VA and Baltimore, MD CCME 2017 Arlington here!

It’s a quiet morning here at Our Lady Queen of Peace.  Students will be waking up soon to get ready to start our day. Our first project will be to do some painting in the ministry center after breakfast.

 

Matthew 25

March 6, 2017

On the morning of our first official day in Arlington we volunteered at Mathew 25, a thrift store run by Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church. The mission of the store is to provide slightly worn clothing, free of charge, for those in need. Usually going though around 1,000 pieces of clothing a week and getting donations from all over the area, the store is able to help around 80 residents each week.

It was incredible to see the impact one small store could make, managed solely by volunteers giving their time to help families who they have never met before. This store perfectly resembled the mission of the church in this way by serving the Lord through serving those in need. It was an incredible atmosphere to be in and a beautiful lesson as to what a little bit of hard work and heart can do to improve the world.     Madison

Noon Mass

March 6, 2017

It was fitting that after our time with the Matthew 25 store, the gospel read at mass was Matthew 25.  This gospel so fully encompasses all that Our Lady Queen of Peace represents.  The many ministries work so hard to clothe the naked, feed the poor, care for the sick, and welcome strangers.  It’s both humbling and inspiriting to see Jesus’ words put into action.

The mass we attended, after a sunny walk around the block, was amazing.  Mass was held in the church but the fifteen of us there circled around the altar, rather than sitting in pews.  We held hands as we prayed the Lord’s prayer, contributed prayers during intercessions, and everyone got up to walk around to wish everyone peace.  For me, the most profound part of mass was how intimate the Eucharist felt. I watched the priest break the bread right in front of me.  I had seen this from afar every weekend since I knew who Jesus was, but for it to be so close really struck me.  The sheer simplicity of this bread, that is Jesus Christ, brought me back to the humbleness he embodies, that all of us should try to embody everyday, especially during this season of Lent.

Food Bank in Arlington

On Wednesday morning our group had the opportunity to help with the food bank at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Arlington, Virginia. The food bank gives out food to those in need every Wednesday morning and serves almost 200 people each week. Our group assisted in checking people in at the door and handing out the bags of food. Overall, this was a really great experience and I’m glad that I got to be a part of a service project that does so much for the community.

-Julia

Baltimore:

The power of prayer

Earlier this evening, we arrived to West Baltimore. We went to get groceries and returned to find a man knocking at the old rectory door. One of the parishioners answered the door. The man stood outside for a few minutes then was let into the building. We finally settled in and unloaded the groceries when one of the parish members came up and asked us if we would like to join a few of the parishioners in saying a prayer for the man. We followed them into the small chapel and made a circle around the man, who clearly seemed uneasy about something.

One of the parishioners, Tammy, started praying. Her voice was strong and sturdy and every word came straight from the heart. She mentioned the man was suffering from a mental illness.

I had never experienced praying in a group like this before. I found the whole situation powerful and emotional. It was powerful in the sense that Tammy and the other parishioners welcomed this stranger into the parish office chapel. They gladly shared words of hope and praise to help this man find God in his time of need. It was emotional because we could clearly see that this man was struggling.

Even though he was a stranger, the parishioner welcomed him, which demonstrates how much community can mean for people in a time of need.
-Jess

A Background of West Baltimore
On our first morning in Baltimore we were introduced to a patron of St. Edwards Church named Mervyn Johnson. Merv has lived in West Baltimore for over 60 years, moving here when he was only 4. Growing up, West Baltimore held a strong sense of pride for those who called it home, including Merv as he told us about all the shops and restaurants he used to go to as a child.
In 1968, when the Civil Rights protests were happening in Baltimore, many of the stores were vandalized sparking a series of losses for the town and those who lived there. Since then, many of West Baltimore’s residents have taken to drugs, which is the silent killer affecting a majority of its population in one way or another. Merv himself struggled with this problem, but overcame with the reinforcement of his faith and the knowledge that it is never too late to make a change. Today Merv is over 20 years clean, something he prides himself in and uses as an example for those still struggling with drug problems today.

Merv’s introduction of the town gave us a great appreciation for the history and culture that surrounds West Baltimore and those who live there. Going forward we will take this knowledge into consideration as we immerse ourselves in the community of St. Edwards Church .