Respect. Dignity. Community.

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, July 28, 2019

By: Emily Bruch

Respect. Dignity. Community. These three words quickly became a theme for our middle school mission trip to the Shenandoah Valley just a few weeks ago. On our first day of service, 7 of our youth had the opportunity to paint a mural on the new Waynesboro Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Before they began to paint the Executive Director, Lance Barton, came to speak about serving our communities. After sharing a personal story of struggle, Lance reminded us all that the importance of the work we do is so much more than our physical actions. We do not serve just to paint a mural, provide safe housing, or stock a food pantry. We serve to remind others that they are part of a greater community of love. It is our responsibility as Christians to treat everyone (and I mean everyone) with respect. When we create equal opportunities for all, stop to listen to our neighbors, and care for one another unconditionally we provide them with a sense of dignity. It is through our actions that reinforces the importance of respect and dignity for others.

As the week went on our youth had the privilege to serve a variety of communities; from volunteering at a nursing and rehabilitation home to serving alongside a group of youth from all over the diocese to providing trail maintenance for those who will hike after us. During daily journaling we would further reflect on Lance’s words as we began to learn more about ourselves as individuals and as a part of several communities. Through outreach, worship, reflection, and lot of laughter, a community of our own was built. We created a community where we felt safe to be our goofiest selves, have deep discussions, and could support one another through daily tasks. We too were given dignity and respect.

St. Mary’s youth not only made a significant, positive impact on the communities within the Shenandoah Valley, but on me. They created friendships and memories that will continue to shape their faith journey, and I feel privileged to watch them grow as the years go on.