For the tenth anniversary of the Diocesan Young Adult Mission Trip, February 27 – March 6, 2010, the team members selected the theme, “Go out into the deep” (Luke 5:4). For many of the 19 enthusiastic missionaries, this truly meant entering into uncharted waters. Each morning the team members gathered with Father Marcos Ayala of San Juan Pueblo, Honduras, to celebrate Mass on the lovely outdoor patio of the Los Amigos Hotel. In the evening the group assembled to process the day by praying, singing and narrating beautiful and heartrending stories of the people, and how God had touched the hearts of both missionaries and natives.
Preparation for the trip took place during the year before, with many meetings to discover fund-raising ideas and allow team members to become acquainted. Collections were held at Sacred Heart Cathedral, the Newman Catholic Student Center Parish, and other churches, along with the Three to Get Ready school project to raise money and awareness about the mission efforts. Because of the kindness and generosity of so many from the Diocese of Raleigh, the group brought several colorful plastic tubs of shoes (305 pairs), eye glasses (600 hundred pair) and lightly used school uniforms (250) to Honduras.
The missionaries included doctors, nurses, medical technicians, construction workers, scientists, engineers and teachers. These professional skills were well matched to the needs of the people they served, examining patients in the medical clinic, providing much needed prescription drugs, installing solar panels in the church to create electricity and teaching seniors the English language in the public high school.
The missionaries testified to a shower of graces and blessings during their week in Honduras.
Lori Schweikert, a board certified psychiatrist who has coordinated and participated in all ten Diocesan mission trips including Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Honduras said, “This week was everything I wanted in a retreat: drawing closer to Christ, each other and our neighbors. The work was definitely challenging and at times emotionally wrenching. The opportunity to experience daily Mass and to serve God with people I grew to love and admire made this a holy week before Holy Week.”
“The people that we met were so welcoming and full of God's love,” recalled Gwen Konsler, pediatric oncology nurse. “They appreciated the mere fact that we came to help, even though it was only for a short time. They put God and their families above all else and are a fantastic example of what we should strive for everyday.”
Bill Rearick is a textile chemist. “We are saturated by our modern day communication with news about the poor and people needing help,” he said, “so that it often becomes just static in the background of our lives. When you see the poor face to face that all changes. The mission trip has been one of the best spiritual experiences imaginable.”
"For years I have listened in awe to our I.H.M. Sisters speak of their experiences with the poor in the countries of Peru and Chile where our Sisters have served since the early 1920’s,” said Sister Rose Marie Adams, I.H.M., Executive Director of the Diocesan Office of Catholic Formation and Evangelization.
“I wanted this experience of seeing first-hand for myself! Now I can tell the stories of the hospitality, the beauty of not just the people in Honduras, but the amazing eighteen others who were my travel companions. I am challenged to live move simply and always to keep the needs of poor in my mind and in prayer. In addition, Father Marcos Ayala is an amazing priest. It was worth traveling all those miles just to be in his presence and see his love and concern for his people.”