The blessings of community

The blessings of community


Hello all,


My name is Sarah Dwyer, I am a senior Business Management major at St. Mary’s in San Antonio. It’s hard to believe we are already finishing up our 6th day in LA. What an experience this has been – full of so many blessings, beautiful testimonies and new experiences – much to be grateful for.


Today we started off our morning very early leaving at 6:30am for either Catholic Worker or Union Rescue Mission. We split groups as we did Tuesday, so today I went to Catholic Worker. We started our morning with prayer which was a beautiful unifying symbol of the work and service to the people. I helped with an assortment of tasks from passing bread to those buttering it, to cutting lettuce and cabbage, to being the girl at the hot sauce cart.


I most enjoyed my job at the hot sauce cart where I was able to greet each person with a smile who went through the line asking if they would like hot sauce along with salt and/or pepper. I had a wonderful conversation with a woman where we started talking about where I was from – San Antonio – and how she almost came to San Antonio but it unfortunately did not work out. I began to tell her why I was in LA and who I was with. Surprisingly she also had almost gone to Dayton at one time as well. She hopes to one day make her way to both cities. We got into the conversation of education and struggle to attend higher education. Overall, I felt so special that she wanted to know more about me and appreciated our conversation just as much as I did if not more. Although I may have been helping and serving her in a simple, spicy hot sauce kinda way, she was the one able to serve me and allowed me to see how God was present in her and throughout our conversation.


After serving lunch and those that came for lunch, we sat down with Jeff and Katherine who have been at Catholic Worker for about 40 years. It was wonderful to hear their story and how they got to this vocation and what it meant to each of them as well as what each of them meant to each other throughout their journey together. They are true servants of the Lord in all they have given to this organization and so many people throughout the years. To think of how many God filled moments they have encountered with people who have such special stories to share and just want someone to listen. They are a true gift to LA and Catholic Worker.


After we left, we all headed to Santa Monica Pier. We all went our separate way to enjoy the daylight, beach, and sand. I enjoyed a long walk along the beach people watching and having a reflective conversation with Ana. We then walked the pier and enjoyed how unique (to me at least) how crazy it is to be at a beach, in January, with some many other people – this is not normal to me where beaches are a distance from San Antonio. We all enjoyed sitting in the sand relaxing and sharing in conversation and the community we have built this week. My favorite part of the beach was seeing the start of the amazing sunset above the ocean. Sunsets are where I see God most visibly and present in the light and shining of the variety of colors that beam out of the sky. Needless to say, I try to capture one, two, or thirty pictures of the sky and its changing beauty!


We then headed to the Lalanne Community of Marianist Brothers. We enjoyed a delicious home cooked meal and lots of laugher throughout our dinner conversation. We got a tour of the house and the addition to the house where we all gathered in their chapel. I don’t believe any of us thought our conversation would get so intimate and vulnerable so quickly. Fr. Jim Heft asked the group what our fear was and how it challenged us. We all had our own unique answer but shared the commonality that we are all looking for a direction and path for our life and how to connect and ensure God is present in this plan and it is His will we are carrying out.


As I reflect on this evening with them, I am so grateful for the Marianists and the role they have had in my life starting in high school and more so throughout my last three and a half years at St. Mary’s. When visiting the West Hills community earlier this week I have come to realize how much I enjoy meeting new Marianists. They all have such a unique vocation story and a special personality that is vibrant from the first hello. Fr. Jim Heft discussed community with us and how it involving building something so special but even more so how it is a true and genuine gift to all who are a part of the community. I see this so true in the community of seniors I live with at school right now. Community is one of my favorite parts about college and how it is such a gift to have people in your life who play a special role for you and what they share with you and how they share it. Community has the presence of God so strong and tied to each person and the group as a whole. Pondering on this in the chapel this evening gave me such peace and serenity as a sat thinking and listening to the group.


I learned from the three Marianists this evening, Fr. Jim Heft, Fr. Ken Templin, and Bro. Dave Murphy that we truly need each other in community and in life. We cannot make decisions alone, and that we are a much stronger individual when others are involved and present. I could not agree more when relating this to community and how special it is to me.


Needless to say, I have loved every moment of this immersion trip. I am so grateful for how quickly we formed a community and how comfortable we got with each other throughout our time together and amidst of conversations. We have allowed ourselves to be vulnerable with each other in such a short amount of time. We have experienced the true needs of the people of LA and the beauty in all the opportunity there are to serve these people and take away a greater appreciation for the many blessings we each share.


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