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As the old saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
Students from Benedictine College found more than they bargained for on mission trips in Spring Break 2020.
More than a third of students from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, go on the college’s mission trips that send them to four continents — a far higher proportion of the student body than at other leading Catholic universities such as Notre Dame.
One group of missionaries from Atchison, Kansas, last spring break expected to give to others. Instead, said Gabe, a Sophomore at Benedictine, “it was inspiring to see the endless joy that the people had, despite their difficult circumstances.”
“As we spent time with the people of the village and helped them in the construction of their Mary grotto,” he said, “this trip taught me a lot about the importance of simplicity and hard work.”
“I’m so thankful for the friendships I made in Guatemala. He mentioned one friend by name: Andres, a 9-year-old fighting cancer.
Benedictine College’s 21 mission trips per year include domestic trips as well as trips to eight countries on four continents. But usually not unexpectedly.
Meanwhile friends from Benedictine who planned to go to Ecuador in the Spring had to change everything because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“When everything changed and we went to West Virginia to Nazareth Farms I was completely knocked out of my comfort zone,” said senior Josh.
Benedictine College is the birthplace of FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and the Hunger Coalition, in which hundreds of students skip a meal on Wednesday to pay for lunches that they deliver to local families. Through Benedictine College’s Service Learning Office and other programs, students also serve throughout the Kansas City area.
“The fact that we switched gears from going to Ecuador to West Virginia was the last thing that we were expecting and it was a great learning experience. I was able to completely focus on the people I was working with and for,” he said.
“I was able to see Christ in all the people that I came into contact with. Every person that we did siding, decking or painting for had a story about some trouble they had in their life and that they were able to get through with the help of Christ,” he added.
“It doesn’t matter where you go you will still find people that need help,” he sad. “While it would have been amazing to have gone to Ecuador I truly believe we were where we were called to be and I hope next year a new group will be able to pick up where we left off.”
Bernadette, class of 2023, didn’t make many plans about her Guatemala trip. “Before going on the mission trip, I had no idea what to expect,” she said.
Benedictine College Mission and Ministry is working to provide every student the opportunity to go on a mission trip during their time in college.
“When I arrived in Joya, Guatemala, my heart became so full! After spending a week with those beautiful people from building a grotto, hiking with the locals for Adoration on the top of the hill, and spending time at the schools, I can honestly say I have never witnessed Christ’s joy like that,” she said.
“This one week has changed my life forever. We are called to be a light to the darkened world.”
Above, see a picture of a mission trip Mass. Benedictine College promotes both the sacraments and service on campus, with three Masses daily, 29 weekly opportunities for confession and Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Seven 21st century bishops are Benedictine College graduates, as well as many religious superiors and vocations directors. The college recently added a Catechesis and Evangelization major and many graduates serve as missionaries or enter the seminary or religious life after leaving Benedictine.