The Catholic University of America

March 6, 2012

Campus Ministry Adds Second Mission Trip to Costa Rica

  Mission Trip
  Catholic University student Mairead MacCrory, Class of 2012, was reunited with her young friend Isabeth on last year's summer mission trip to Costa Rica. The two had met on a previous mission trip.
> Read MacCrory's essay about the trip

Typically over spring break about 20 Catholic University students travel to Jamaica to work with children and the elderly while others join Habitat for Humanity in several different cities, renovating houses for low-income families.

But this year, because of an uptick in interest among students, the Office of Campus Ministry has added a second mission trip, this one to Costa Rica, where 13 students are spending a week in the city of San Jose.

“I’m always impressed with our students’ commitment to service,” says Emmjolee Mendoza Waters, associate director of campus ministry and community service. “This year — with Catholic University’s service campaign — I’m not surprised that our students’ desire to serve has grown. They serve with friendship and joy because they really want to make a difference in the world.”

Challenged to perform 125,000 hours of service as part of the University’s Cardinal Service Commitment, the CUA community exceeded that goal in January and continues to add hours. The campaign ends on Founders Day, April 10.

Thirteen students in the Spanish for Healthcare program are visiting Limon, Nicaragua, where they are working with a medical clinic, making home visits in the community and teaching health education classes on nutrition and prenatal care.

In all, about 100 CUA students will spend spring break 2012 in service. In addition to the students who  boarded planes on Saturday, March 3, for Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Nicaragua, 60 others headed to Phoenix, Ariz.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Manistique, Mich., to work with Habitat for Humanity.

In Jamaica, CUA students again are partnering with the St. Patrick’s Foundation, based in the city of Kingston, tutoring children and working at St. Monica’s Home for the Elderly. This will mark the 10th year that CUA students have partnered with the foundation.

The students have worked hard to prepare for service, says Waters. This year, Campus Ministry added an overnight retreat at the Melwood Retreat Center in Charles County, Md., as part of the preparation for students who are going overseas, says Waters.

At the retreat last month, the students discussed the themes of prayer, social justice, community building, and living a simple life, says Waters. The Campus Ministry staff felt it was important for the students — especially those who had never been on a mission trip — to have those conversations before they arrived at their foreign destination, Waters notes.

“It’s critical for students to prepare their hearts for service and tackle the big questions before they go on the trips,” Waters says. “What does it mean to live simply? What do we mean by the humility of service?”

Junior nursing major Katie Reilly, of Medford, N.J., who went on the mission trip to Jamaica last year, is a member of the group that went to Nicaragua this year. She and the other students on the trip — all nursing majors — will have the chance to practice their Spanish while working at a clinic run by the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children.

Reilly, who is considering the possibility of going into obstetrics after graduating from Catholic University, says that her group is scheduled to meet a midwife and a natural healer while they’re in Nicaragua.

“Knowing how to speak Spanish is really critical in healthcare because the Hispanic population is growing so fast in the United States,” says Reilly. “When you’re caring for a patient who only speaks Spanish, you can make a connection if you speak their language.”