There is just so much that can be said about my Alternative Spring Break experience. First of all, I enjoy trips like it because we always become like a family. On ASB especially, though, this truly happened. We built houses, we spoke with the homeless, we toured the town. I had never previously been on an actual mission trip before. One of these days, I hope to do at least one outside of the United States because of this trip. Throughout the mission, we came to so many inside jokes and such, it's not even funny. Just kidding, it is funny. It is just something that happens when you put a group of college students together in close quarters for a week, I guess. The meaning behind such things brings us very close. We find joy in the work we do together. Even when it's hard – and, believe me, it can be hard – it is incredibly worthwhile, both in sharing with the others there with you and discovering yourself with the sacrifices you make and the obstacles you overcome. It is glorious to consider the relationships you build with the people you go with and the people you meet along the way.
There is always the strange possibility, too, of your very life itself changing, or being changed, entirely. For myself personally, my ASB experience included the most beautiful moment of my life. But a backstory is probably necessary. For as long as I can remember, it has been in the back of my head that I was going to be a priest. Hearing the idea all the time kind of does that to you. My grandparents were really excited to mention it to me constantly, people at my church were always telling me they would pray for me, my parents even got a chalice that, if/when I became a priest, would be mine. So, it was always in the back of my mind, but I was only thinking about it. Then, everything changed on the Tuesday of my ASB experience.
By the by, I highly recommend a journal. I don't usually find myself doing one, but this time it went well and I am glad I did it. According to my journal: 'We went out to the Fraternity of the Poor of Jesus Christ [who were a Franciscan sisterhood] ... the most beautiful experience I have ever had. Here we go. I went in the chapel following others and knelt at the inside aisle seat of the second row on the right side. I started thinking and meditating and praying the Our Father, and all of a sudden a nun began praying out loud and another began playing guitar (at this point, I thought that there were more than three nuns there). Mighty to Save. A couple of other songs. The whole thing was so charismatic. It was basically a half-hour of Praise and Worship. I almost cried a couple of times. I seriously, during all this, thought about my future and my vocation. I might very well become a priest; I feel like I am actually being called. Especially after, when Sister Magdalena [essentially the Mother Superior] came up to me to mention that she felt like I had something to share. I told her pretty much everything and felt sort of connected to her somehow. We made sandwiches after introductions to Sisters Paula and Agatha. Whatever God's plan was, I feel it working through me, you know? And so, I highly recommend Alternative Spring Break. I am definitely doing it whenever I can. It is simply a wonderful experience. I hope you consider and reconsider, and end up going.
Alternative Spring Break in Kansas City was definitely an eye-opening experience for me. Blessed with the great privilege of living and working with the missionaries from A Simple House, I experienced for the first time the reality that social justice and religious orthodoxy are not in opposition, but that they go together!
The trip helped me to realize the need to, in the words of Clark Massey, the founder of A Simple House, "heal the strange division between Catholics that stress social justice and those who stress other parts of Church teaching." All in all, I left the trip with a new appreciation of the fullness of the Catholic faith, inspired to live more simply in my own life and heed the call of Popes Benedict and Francis to allow charity to flow out of my faith in Jesus.