A group of St. Joseph’s Academy students teamed with students from St. Joseph Academy in Cleveland to serve marginalized members of the Louisville, Kentucky, community. The mission trip took place June 10-16.
SJA theology teacher Jade Spears accompanied the group. “The Louisville trip is meaningful for students because they were immersed into the lives of those they served,” she said. “It was a ministry of presence but also of solidarity. As a chaperone, it was wonderful to watch the girls grow into the service while building community with each other and students from SJA Cleveland.”
The group arrived in Louisville on June 10 and spent time exploring the downtown area. They then traveled to CrossRoads Ministry, headquarters for the mission trip, to meet their SJA Cleveland counterparts.
Following breakfast and morning prayer each day, the students divided into groups and traveled to their service venues. They also visited Healing Place for Women, an addiction treatment facility, Louisville’s Catholic Worker House, soup kitchens around the city and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Each day ended with prayer and reflection.
The group enjoyed watching the sun set over the Ohio River as well as a relaxing afternoon of waterfront soccer and games. The trip ended with dinner at Bearno’s Little Sicily followed by a commissioning ceremony at CrossRoads.
Senior Autumn Leon said she was moved by the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of those she served. She especially enjoyed teaching English-as-a-Second-Language classes to adult refugees at Catholic Charities. “It was so memorable for me,” she said. “Whenever they pronounced something correctly, it really warmed my heart. It amazed me how hardworking they were and how much work they put into everything. They wanted to be here, and they wanted to learn. It was so moving for me to be a steppingstone in these people’s lives in their process of surviving and making it in this new world.”
Leon said she will always treasure the fabric wrist band she received at the beginning of the mission trip. Each day, she wrote on the fabric the names of those who made an impact on her life. “Now I have a fabric strip that I wear on my wrist every day with the names of the people I met in Louisville,” she said. “I will probably never see those people again, and I don’t even know if most of them will survive. But what I do know is that I will pray for them every day and that they impacted my life more than I impacted theirs.”
Senior Allie Brunet said she loved building relationships with the girls from SJA Cleveland as well as making a difference in the loves of those she served. “I loved getting to know those in need in the city of Louisville and in the surrounding area,” she said. “All of us went to different places to serve, and I went to Active Day, which is a day center for people with developmental disabilities. Everyone there was incredibly sweet, and I enjoyed every second that we spent there.”
Senior Sadie Samaha spent time at Love City, helping facilitate a summer camp and working in its daycare center. “I really enjoyed it because I love working with young children,” she said. “But my favorite part of the week was getting to spend time with the Cleveland girls. I bonded with them very quickly and formed friendships that I think will last a lifetime.”
Mindy Brodhead Averitt