Boston College undergraduates at work constructing a new home for a Mexican family during Easter Weekend. The students also spent time in prayer, reflection and discussion, and befriended the family and many of their neighbors.
While constructing the house, the BC contingent struck up a friendship with the family: a 23-year-old woman named Josephina, her 15-year-old sister, her 5 and 1-year-old children and a 2-year-old cousin.
"All of them were living together in a hut made out of garage doors," explained Steven Hege, '03. "The conditions were pretty bad."
To makes matters more difficult, the BC crew had to grapple with an unexpected language barrier. The BC students assumed that Josephina understood Spanish, said Molly Campanella, '01, but learned that the family had recently relocated from southern Mexico and spoke a native Indian language. Josephina's older daughter was able to translate into Spanish, which many of the BC students could speak.
Despite such initial obstacles and awkwardness, the students and family warmed to each other, so that on Easter Sunday they shared dinner together in the new house, along with 20 other neighborhood children. The students also held an Easter egg hunt for the youngsters.
"It was a great experience to see that happen," said Hege. "It was the best Easter I've ever had."
Throughout the retreat, the BC students celebrated the liturgies of the Easter Triduum together, shared meals and each night took the time to reflect on what they were experiencing. Participants say these activities helped them to be mindful that their retreat was taking place at a sacred time of year in the Christian calendar.
"During a time that we are supposed to be meditating on the suffering of Christ - and how that suffering is redeemed - we were in a situation where we're seeing people suffering in a new way," said Meg Felice, '02.
"But at the same time seeing the ubiquitous beauty of people helping to redeem that suffering is really something," she said.
"The fact that we finished it on Easter Sunday, the day of Christ's resurrection, made it that much better," said Hege.
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