During spring break, many students from colleges and universities head to the beaches. The 18 students who are heading to the beaches from Franciscan University of Steubenville are doing so as part of the SonLife mission trip to minister to the marginalized and to bring the Gospel to non-believers.
They're not alone. More than 300 students from Franciscan University of Steubenville will spend their spring break ministering and cultivating the Catholic faith in five countries and locations across the United States. They've spent six months training, fundraising, and preparing to help those in need.
“Perseverance, sacrifice, responsibility, prayer, charity, hope, and faith are an integral part of each mission trip experience," said Rhett Young, director of missionary outreach at Franciscan University of Steubenville. "(Students) desire to give of themselves and to grow spiritually, emotionally, and humanly, … but once on mission, it is Christ in the people they encounter and the personal growth that happens while on mission, that leaves a lasting impression."
The student missionaries will serve in the following places:
Belize – 24 students
This mission focuses on bringing Christ to middle school and high school students in this Central American country. The team ministers by teaching students how to live out their faith, practice chastity, and build each other up as the body of Christ.
Bronx – 18 students
Students will work in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, an AIDS hospice, and other ministries run by the Sisters of Life, Missionaries of Charity, Little Sisters of the Poor, Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, LAMP Ministries, and Hearts Home.
Chicago – 15 students
This mission partners with Emmaus Ministries to minister to the homeless in the inner city who are struggling with addictions.
Ecuador – 40 students
Students focus on caring for the whole person by bringing the sacraments and basic medical care to rural Ecuadorian communities.
Honduras – 28 students
This mission focuses on bringing Christ to the poorest of the poor in Honduras through the sacraments, prayer, music, and ministering to children at an orphanage.
New Mexico – 14 students
Students will minister to the Navajo people and others in the area. They will work alongside the Little Sisters of the Poor and Missionaries of Charity at Gallup Catholic Grade School and High School, and St. Michael's Special Education.
North Dakota – 16 students
Working alongside the priests of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, students will organize retreats and engage in a door-to-door evangelization ministry and a jail ministry on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation.
San Diego – 20 students
Students will share Christ with junior high and high school youth at day and evening retreats at local Catholic high schools and parishes.
Steubenville – 57 students
Students will work with the Franciscan TOR Sisters at the Samaritan House, the priests at Saint Peter’s Catholic Church, and community groups to bring the light of Christ to downtown Steubenville. Ministries include door-to-door evangelization, street ministry, soup kitchen, and a homeless ministry.
Florida Beaches – 18 students
On the SonLife mission trip, Franciscan students will evangelize on the beaches of Florida, bringing the Gospel to other college students, the marginalized, and non-believers.
Students in Franciscan University’s semester-abroad program in Gaming, Austria, also have two mission opportunities: Twelve students will minister to children at a Romanian orphanage, and 50 students will travel to Lourdes, France, to minister to the sick with the North American Volunteers.
"There was a genuine curiosity many people had with what we were all about," wrote student Christyn following a 2010 SonLight mission trip to Panama City, Fla. "It became obvious after talking with just a few that many people out here came for one thing only, and that one thing has left them empty for so long. They are hungry for truth and hungry for something more in life."
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