RIVERSIDE — On Saturday, Feb. 2, 10 students from St. Mary Academy - Bay View returned home from a seven-day mission trip to Haiti. The group, which included sophomores, juniors and seniors were chaperoned by Bay View theology teacher Matthew Daly and partnered with Mercy Focus on Haiti, a ministry initiative of the Sisters of Mercy of Americas that focuses on the emergent human needs in Haiti.
“It is our goal that through this mission trip our students’ minds and hearts are opened to a world outside their own and to those suffering,” said Daly. “We hope they gain a deeper sense of merciful solidarity with the people of Haiti, to cultivate a deeper faith as they serve others. A lesson you can’t teach from a book.”
During their week in Gros-Morne, the students visited with a number of local outreach programs and the girls from Mercy Beyond Borders (MBB), a program that provides housing and educational opportunities for teen girls from the mountains. In addition, they delivered handmade dolls to young children at the Jesu Mari School and painted new gazebo at the Maison Bon Samaritan, a home for the elderly.
Daly also said it was, “rewarding to see the girls process their experience - wrestling with issues of social justice, the abundance of stuff we have in America vs. the lack of necessities in Haiti, and the presence of God in this experience.”
The students developed a real sense of camaraderie and friendship with the girls from MBB.
“My experience in Haiti was truly eye-opening,” said Bay View senior Paris Bastia. “Being able to connect with other Mercy girls from another part of the world and being able to communicate with them, although through a pretty large language barrier, was truly inspiring.”
Each night after completing their service work, students were asked to reflect on their experiences, and for many, the trip was truly life-changing.
“[This trip] has already changed my life in so many ways,” said Bastia. “I’m sure it will continue to change the way I see the world, the way I interact with others, and how grateful I am for my education and the opportunities I have moving forward.”
Currently, Bay View has two mission trips planned for the 2019-2020 academic year. The first will be a trip to the Mustard Seed Communities in Jamaica, the second, a return trip back to Haiti in early 2020.