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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Orleans 2012 - Gospel Roads

During the past week, I took part in a week-long service retreat by the Salesians of Don Bosco. I was chaperoning members of the Youth Group of my Parish.

The Gospel Roads is a series of Christian service retreats.  During one week teens and young adults are given the opportunity to walk with Jesus Chris through service to the young and the poor in the spirit of Don Bosco, the founder of the Salesians click HERE to learn more.  The week-long journeys is not composed of solely service trips.  There is also the opportunity for daily mass, small group discussions, sharing, reflections and a "Good Night" service offered by one of the adult members.  One night of Eucharist Adoration and the solemn opportunity for confession.

The New Orleans Gospel Road commenced on Saturday, June 16th. After signing in, all participants, young team and core team engaged in great-fun-spirited ice breakers. Gave each and everyone of us a wonderful opportunity to explore eachother's personality. Right there and then we knew who the emerging leaders were going to be, the fun, the loud, the quiet and the spirited ones, etc. On Sunday, we took an amazing walk of the City of New Orleans followed by mass at the New Orleans Cathedral given by the Archbishop of Louisiana (that was the highlight of my day). Mass was followed by a yummy lunch and then we went off to the swamps to Alligator Territory. I had never seen alligators up close (that close) and had the opportunity not only to learn but to touch one. (That was the second highlight of my day).
We were broken into "work groups" and every day thereafter, (Monday through Friday) we visited a local service site where all participants had the opportunity to work directly with people in need.  Among my group's service sites were schools, the food bank, pregnancy center and a summer camp.  After work each day, we returned to what we called "home" for the entire week.  Participants lived and worked together in complete unity after starting off as complete strangers.  Shared, moments, work tools, laughs and tears.

It was a marvelous seeing everyone come together to accomplish the tasks assigned.  Although small, these tasks made a great difference.  One of my group's assignment was to move tables  from classroom to classroom.  This took us, pretty much the entire morning and if we weren't there, it would have had to be done by one single person.  How long would that have taken??

At the Food Bank, three of us packed 3 pallets of 24 cases  containing 30 lbs. of beverages (water, juices, sodas, drink mix, coffee, etc.) along side us, was a small group packing canned goods, fruits, condiments, etc. off a conveyor belt to be distributed throughout Louisiana.

At the last prayer service, each one of us was asked what we would take with us from this experience. I have to say that I admire each and everyone of the participants. They gave up a WHOLE WEEK of their summer vacation for the benefit of others, it's very hard in today's society to be that young and find others with the same Godly interests and there they were together for the same reason. I admire their ability of making a difference in eachother's lives, including mine. I was reminded of how hard it was to be a teenager while trying to figure EVERYTHING OUT! the wonders of growing up is realizing that you don't have to. Just let God with the help of the holy spirit guide you through, stay active in doing good for others, at times, simply smile, and the rest will come.

Over 45 strangers became friends for life.

Thank you! we played, prayed and worked hard!!!
umm yeah!! we also partied hard!! 
"The music of the young should be listened to with the heart and not with the ears."
- Don Bosco

Did I miss anything????  Please comment below be sure that all readers get the full picture... 

"Remember, God does not pay us for results, but for effort."
- Don Bosco

Following is our list of trigger words and moments, that will simply keep all memories alive.  Thank you Jess for putting it together.  

I put ketchup on my ketchup. 
Talent Show. 
call me maybe.
dance parties in the car.
soccer mom. 
kill the cockroaches.
desperate for showers.
always hungry.
"participate don't anticipate".
it's too cold.
it's too hot. 
turn off the AC. 
turn on the AC. 
"are we wearing our shirts today?."
"what time is it?" "I don't know i don't have my phone".
what are the guys doing upstairs? 
throwing water balloons at the young team. 
get into your small groups. 
"get your journals out"(awkward silence)"i'm guessing no one has them."
waking up to horns. 
"rice for dinner? i'm okay with that." 
photo bombing. 
"Peel banana peel peel banana... go bananas" 
pulling weeds, painting, sorting clothes, moving boxes, playing with kids, cleaning. we did it all.

OK OK!! I'll mention it... I received a few private messages asking me to update my blog post as I seemed to have failed to mention what we had to eat.  I started with this:

Eggplant and crab meat something or other.. delicious.  not too thrilled about the deep fried stuff and a little too spicy for my taste, I couldn't finish it all but what I had what delicious.

and ok here's what everyone wants.  At one of the worksites, we were given pizza for lunch (about 7 or 8 pies) (14 of us)  Gospel Roads will NOT starve you.. Daily, we had breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner and all the water we needed, good food too!!!  but the pizzas came, I was hungry, served 2 slices on my plate, then went back for two more and two became three for a total of 5 plus, 3 breadsticks and half-hour later I was hungry again.  For someone who rarely eats pizza, I did pretty good.  =)

I am still growing... well... perhaps sideways, but growing nonetheless.

I am not used to sweet beans so we called them "fake beans" (no offense to my southern friends and readers) but the Latin cuisine i am accustomed to calls for "real" beans.

There!! Happy??


  1. WoW!! that sounds like so much fun and I agree with you seeing so many young people expressing themselves in acts of kindness and selflessness.

  2. What an amazing experience, I am so thrilled I was able to spend it with you <3

  3. Thanks, I had never heard of the Salecians and am always looking to get my children involved.

    1. and that plate looks YUUUUMMMMMMYYYYY

  4. haha I can just imagine the stories behind the list of trigger words and moments