“They’re able to work with each other and rely on each other in a way they would never have the opportunity to,” he said.
The group began construction on a chapel located deep in the mountains at an altitude of thirteen thousand feet above sea level. This made for exhausting but rewarding work. Other mission work included going door to door giving away rosaries and sharing the Good News, attending Ecuador’s National Youth Day, and spending time at the local orphanage and nursing home. The orphanage was specifically for abandoned children who were disabled and handicapped by the damaging effects of the area’s volcanic ash.
“These teens from Detroit sat with kids their own age and fed them. It was a reminder to all of us how much we take for granted as Americans, even poor Americans,” said Deacon Adam.
The nursing home also impacted the high schoolers, as one of them remarked, “It made me think—how often do I make an effort to see my own grandmother?”
On both his trip to Tanzania and Ecuador, Deacon Adam believed these experiences convicted him of the universal need for priests and the deep desire for faith.
“Faith transcends language,” he said.
Surrendering to God’s Will | India
Seminarians Richard Dorsch, a second-year college seminarian for the Archdiocese of Detroit and Corey Bilodeau, a second-year college seminarian for the Diocese of Lansing, set off to Calcutta to serve at the Nirmal Hriday (Immaculate Heart), where Mother Teresa first opened her home for the dying and the destitute. There, they prepared meals, did dishes and laundry, and cared for patients.
“It is absolutely amazing when you allow yourself to be completely emptied and surrender to the will of God, what he can accomplish through you—giving you so much strength and grace to encounter and serve even the poorest of the poor,” said Richard.
Other international, seminarian-led mission trips included; Iraq, attended by then fourth-year graduate seminarians for the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas, now ordained priests, Fr. Fadie Gorgies and Fr. John Jaddou, and third-year graduate seminarians Marcus Shammami and Kevin Yono; and China, attended by third-year graduate seminarian David Pellican.
Relishing the Challenge | Philadelphia
Second-year college seminarian for the Archdiocese of Detroit, Andrew Smith, stayed closer to home than some of his Sacred Heart counterparts, as he accompanied the youth group from St. Peter Parish in Mount Clemens, Michigan on a mission trip to Imperial, Pennsylvania.
“The challenges of mission trips—working on a crew with people you don’t know, sleeping on the floor, stepping away from our regular routines and comforts— push us out of our comfort zones. But in these moments of challenge, we learn to rely on God more fully and put our trust in Him,” he said.
Unleashing the Gospel Around the World
Archbishop Vigneron’s call in his 2018 pastoral letter Unleash the Gospel, while specific to the Archdiocese of Detroit, has no geographic boundaries.
“Today, no less than two millennia ago, there is no limit to what the Lord can do in our midst. His part is to clothe his Church with ‘power from on high’ (Luke 24:49) for the accomplishment of her mission. Our part is to give him our wholehearted ‘yes’—to let ourselves be transformed, guided, and sent forth by the Holy Spirit, who is the ‘principal agent of evangelization,’" wrote Archbishop Vigneron.
This wholehearted “yes” and Christ’s limitless grace that accompanies it, is clearly reflected in Sacred Heart seminarians’ formation experiences and global mission work. The people, culture, and communities they encountered and served, returned grace to them twofold.
This year’s trips may have ended, but the experiences, lessons, and deep growth that occurred for each seminarian will continue to echo through their work in the years to come, as they study, preach, and shape Christ’s living body on earth.