Through God's Eyes
Hola and Aloha!
This is Yasmin Espino from the University of Dayton and Claire Riggan from Chaminade University of Honolulu and we’ll be telling you about our day 3 experience of our LA Immersion trip!
Our day started around 6:30am when we loaded our cars to head to the LA Catholic Worker Soup Kitchen. Going through Downtown LA we were in awe with all of the large buildings and architecture. We were shocked when one simple turn landed us at Skid Row. It’s crazy to think that right down the block from all of these fancy buildings was one of the largest communities of homeless people in the world.
The Catholic Worker was founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in order to bring attention to social justice issues by advocating and serving for the community it affects. The LA Catholic Worker is based out of Skid Row so it is specifically serving the homeless within the community. They provide food, water, blankets, clothing and basic clinical services to the homeless population. We had the opportunity to participate in all aspects of their outreach. We prepped and served food, washed dishes, helped prepare the clinic before opening it up to the public, and even got share a meal and interact with the homeless.
From the shared conversations and interaction with the homeless community, we not only learned more about them, but more by ourselves. Sitting down and listening to the many different stories made us realize that these people were once like us; young people with the world at their feet. They had dreams and aspirations, but somewhere along the road things took a turn for the worse. The thing with homeless is that it doesn’t happen just one way or to just a certain type of person. It can happen in any way to any person. Each one of us has our own story. Listening to the stories made us realize that the situation could happen to anyone, regardless of socio-economic or cultural background. It could happen to our neighbors, our friends, or even us. This realization opened both our hearts and our minds to the seriousness of this issue. After hearing these stories, we placed ourselves in their shoes and realized the importance of what it means to serve your community the way we would want to be served if we were in the same circumstances.
It is important to remember this realization in our everyday lives as we are called by God to serve others and to love unconditionally as God has loved us. The experiences that we had today have forever enhanced the way that we practice and carry out our faith. It will remind us to continue to pray for the less fortunate, spread love kindness to all, and to continue to serve by God’s will and in accordance to the Marianist charisms.
After working for about 6 hours with the LA Catholic Worker team, we had the opportunity to visit the Cathedral of Our Lady Queen of Angeles located in the heart of downtown LA. Here we were able to really focus in on the lives and characteristics of saints. As a whole group, we discussed how being a saint doesn’t always mean being canonized, but rather living our lives in a holy way. We discussed 12 different saints with diverse backgrounds including: age, race, ethnicity, culture, location, etc.
From there, we headed over to the USC campus where three Marianists live, Fr. Ken, Fr. Jim, and Brother Dave. We had the blessing and honor of coming into their homes, celebrating mass with them, and sharing a meal and our stories with each other. After dinner, we had the opportunity to have a group reflection. We each went around and shared why we decided to apply for this immersion trip and where our faith journey currently stands. None of us expected the conversation to take the turn it did. We found ourselves opening up to each other and allowing a sense of vulnerability that we were not expecting so early on in this trip. Through the tears and laughter that we shared, we grew in community and now share an unbreakable bond that will stand the test of time. When we shared our stories, we were all present for each other and showed what it truly meant to be a Marianist community. By the end of our discussion, we were in awe with the vulnerability that each of us demonstrated towards each other. We truly felt God’s love and presence in that room and within each other.
Throughout the day, we saw God in so many wonderful ways. One way that we felt God was through interacting with the homeless population of Skid Row. Seeing their resilient love for life and radiant smiles despite their circumstances was indescribable. Their positivity and warmth was admirable and reminds us that no matter what we may go through in life, patience, positivity, and faith in God will get us through it. Word cannot describe how blessed and grateful we are to be a part of this LA Immersion experience. We can’t wait to see where the rest of this trip goes and how we will continue to see the Lord through others and the blessings He places upon us.