Encountering Christ on Spring Break

By Greg Darr, vocations minister and mission promoter for the Maryknoll Society, based in Minneapolis

From March 5th to March 12th, twenty-three groups of students hit the road from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, for a spring break experience entirely different from parties and vacations experienced by their peers on the beaches of Florida or Texas.  Traveling by van or bus to destinations as diverse as Tuba City, AZ, Cleveland OH, Wheeling, WV, Memphis, TN and others, these students sought to encounter those left on the margins of communities around our country.  And, from these encounters, come to see the world through their eyes.

As a Maryknoll vocation minister in the Midwest, I was privileged to accompany one Creighton group in their spring break service and justice trip to Minneapolis.  Six students spent mornings helping to tutor young Hmong students.  In other occasions throughout the week, we journeyed with the homeless, African-American youth, Somali immigrants and Muslim community members of diverse backgrounds.

Perhaps the most moving experience of our week together was to listen to the stories of mothers whose children had gunned down on the streets of Minneapolis' struggling neighborhoods.  They share the pain that only a mother who loses a child to violence can know.  And, they work to ensure that no more mothers should ever have to endure this unimaginable nightmare again.

These Creighton students spent a week of their lives on the streets of a Minneapolis neighborhood that is better armed than most war-torn communities.  And yet, they came away with a sense of life and hope that Maryknollers experience the world over.  When asked, "What did you do on your spring break?", they'll be able to respond, like any missioner, "I encountered Christ."

For a quick round-up from Creighton's Spring Break trips, visit the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice on Twitter at @Creighton_SCSJ and their website at:  http://blogs.creighton.edu/ccsj/serviceandjusticetrips/k

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Photos courtesy Shannon Mulcahey, Creighton College of Nursing student

Serving at "Cookie Cart" -- a program for teen employment and education in North Minneapolis:  http://cookiecart.org/
Visit to Karmel Halal Market in South Minneapolis, a center for Minneapolis' Somali community.
Posing with a bobble-head doll of Creighton University's President in Minneapolis' Sculpture Garden
Visit to Masjid An'Nur, Minneapolis
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