How we learn to serve others Print
Thursday, Aug. 09, 2012 -- 9:16 AM

Members of the Love Begins Here mission trip spend time cleaning windows. (Contributed photo)MADISON -- Blessed Miguel Pro, who was martyred in 1927 in the midst of persecution of the Church in Mexico, could be unknown or deemed irrelevant to young Catholics today. His death 85 years ago in the public eye is long removed in time and space. But his witness to the Catholics of that time served to bolster their faith and fight more enthusiastically for Christ the King.

Seminarian Bill Van Wagner shared the story of Blessed Miguel Pro with the nearly 300 young people who have come on Love Begins Here (LBH) mission trips this summer. Each time, it was accompanied by some encouragement to not be afraid to follow Blessed Miguel’s example.

While they will likely not lose their life to stand up for what they believe in, they were encouraged to not be afraid to die a social death. Being a regular high school student who likes going to daily Mass, desires to have an active prayer life, and enjoys serving one’s neighbors may not be quickly accepted. Pursuing virtue over pleasures does not always win friends. This challenge Van Wagner issued — to follow Blessed Miguel’s example — was a tough one.

The young people return home. The LBH Core Team wonders what will stick. And then a few weeks later, at a Monday morning daily Mass, the Core Team looks around and finds five young missionaries who woke up to spend time with Jesus. Others come back to volunteer more hours, when LBH comes to their home parish. The old colloquialisms about teaching, fishing, and eating come to mind.

It would be possible for the young missionaries who attend these local mission trips to see that spiritual side of LBH as an obligation. However, on Love Begins Here not only does everyone go to Mass daily, but we talk about why it is so important for our lives. The missionaries spent a total of 7,000 hours serving those in need, and they shared where they saw God’s presence in their work. They had fun, and it was documented every step of the way.

Altogether, Love Begins Here, in its fourth summer like those that have come before, not only gave the young people in our diocese fish to eat. Rather, they were taught how to fish . . . or serve, gather in community, pray, and love. Young missionaries continue to be taught how to live the fulness of the Christian life — loving God and loving neighbor, beginning right in their own backyards.

What was experienced this summer on LBH is not to be forgotten, after all that has been made difficult by the documentation of the summer remembered so easily on the Facebook page, Twitter account, blog, and vlog. However, in time, memories of the summer will start to fade. When that time comes, the Core Team will continue to hope and pray for these future saints and young missionaries who are serving, praying, and beginning love in their homes.

Lindsay Becher is the coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Madison.


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