To Be, Rather Than to Seem

2019 Mission Trip Week Marks 20th Anniversary of Program

Last week, March 10th-17th, nearly 200 AHN high school students, parents and staff traveled to eight destinations throughout the states and internationally for the 2019 Mission Trip Program. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the program's start, when Mrs. Rebeca Zambrano launched a trip to the Dominican Republic in 1999. Since then, hundreds of students have set out each year to make a difference in the lives of others. This year’s trips included:

  • The Dominican Republic (Celebrating their 20th Anniversary!)
  • Costa Rica
  • San Juan, Texas
  • Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Jonestown, Mississippi
  • Tampa/Ruskin
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • The Florida Panhandle

In the few weeks leading up to the trips, students and staff gathered for spiritual preparation, praying together and reflecting on both the challenges and gifts that the week might bring. The groups held supply drives for their specific trips, did research about the areas and populations they would be serving, and worked through a mission trip journal that was developed by Sister Lisa Perkowski, Megan Dubee, and Katie Holland.

From working with refugees at the border, to cleaning up areas destroyed by Hurricane Michael, the Academy missionaries enjoyed a week of service, and truly lived out the school’s motto, Esse Quam Videri, or, To Be, Rather Than to Seem.

Please take a moment to read through the student and staff reflections below about each trip:

“Everywhere we visited, despite all the pain and destruction, there was a powerful sense of love, kindness, and hope. Whether we were making food to serve to the elderly folks at a nursing home, or cleaning out the kitchen at St. John’s parish, I felt like I was truly making a difference. I became eager to do my part, whether small or big, in making at least one person’s life a little bit better. I saw this same spark in the hearts of my peers as well, who were each, in their own way, the embodiment of Christ’s love and mission.” –Amelia C., A'21, Scranton

“We went to San Juan, Texas, and helped to paint two homes and hang drywall and insulation. We worked with Catholic Charities at the immigration center. The people we helped we so appreciative and the girls worked incredibly hard. Some of the girls were afraid to go so close to the border before we left, and by the end of the trip, they were begging me to change their tickets to Sunday, so that they could help their new friends just one more day.”- Mrs. Nitchals, San Juan

"I loved the Dominican Republic Mission Trip because we were making a difference in the lives of the people of La Victoria. The smiles of the children said it all!” -Lauren J., A'20, Dominican Republic

“I went on the mission trip to the Panhandle and I will never forget this trip. Seeing all of the grateful faces when 18 strong, young missionaries walked up to help them is something I will cherish forever. The long eight-hour work days felt very short because we were all working so hard, and we were having fun doing it.”- Angie P., A'21, Panhandle

"My favorite memory was when we went to surprise a woman whose granddaughter was terminally ill to pray for her and her family. It was the most uplifting and motivational experience of my life to talk, pray, and sing with her because she was able maintained a positive attitude about her situation after Hurricane Michael.” -Audrey G., A19, Panhandle

“In Jonestown, an impoverished community in the Mississippi Delta, we served by repairing a trailer for a family, encountering the neighborhood’s children, conducting a seminar about college test prep and scholarship application processes, participating in a town clean-up, and in the spirit of the Civil Rights movement, joined with the community in a ‘March for March.’ As always, our hearts were moved by seeing the merciful Christ through Sr. Kay Burton, SNJM’s ministry mirrored in the face of our brothers and sisters in Jonestown.” –Jamie Meyer, Jonestown

"My favorite part of traveling to Jonestown was seeing my fellow sisters and I grow in faith, gain a passion for helping the people of Jonestown, and foster a life-long friendship between each other. The opportunity to travel to Jonestown Mississippi the past two years has changed my outlook on life, and I will forever be grateful." - Isabella B, A19, Jonestown

"I loved learning how to screen in a porch, walking in the March for March, and interacting with the community, but my favorite thing about my trip to Jonestown, Mississippi was how close I got to the girls on my trip and how fulfilled I felt after we finished our work."- Carly F., A19, Jonestown

"My favorite part about the trip was learning to put up walls in the house we worked on. It was a little hard at first, but when you add good people and great music into the equation, you get a great time!"
-Tress J., A'20, Baton Rouge 

"In Baton Rouge we worked with the St. Bernard Project to repair homes that were damaged in the August 2016 floods. By far the best part was seeing the homeowner’s reaction to her newly drywalled kitchen after living in deplorable conditions for over two years." -Megan Dubee, Baton Rouge

“Witnessing migrant farm workers pick strawberries was a life-altering experience. They do back-breaking work for low pay, running down the rows with their filled boxes to trade them for empty ones. Moving forward, I will pray for, and vote to support, those who work hard to provide food for me.” –Lori Troutman, Heart of Tampa

“The mission trip I participated in was Heart of Tampa/Ruskin. The girls and I built a stand to allow children easier access to mounting horses so that they could ride them during summer camp, painted the stand and the handball court, and did landscaping, raking leaves, and weed-wacking. The most amazing thing was that I never saw girls disappointed when asked to do anything, they were so excited to help where they could.” –Brian Butterly, Heart of Tampa

"It was eye-opening to see the tremendous need of the immigrant communities in Ruskin, Wimauma and Balm. I believe that we should encourage our students to participate in more community service for those in our area." - Micky Stagg, Heart of Tampa

“I love the opportunity to get to know the girls outside of the school setting. Mission trips allow for deeper conversations and the ability to build relationships that you might not otherwise have the opportunity to do.”- Erin Krukar, Baton Rouge 

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