Monday, February 29, 2016

Jackie and Veronica

Today we got to meet two wonderful sisters, Jackie and Ronnie, who spoke to us about the the history of the Arlington area and the history of the chuch were staying at: Our Lady Queen of Peace. They talked to us for over an hour and made me aware of issues they faced while growing up as African American women in the community. They became a part of the Our Lady queen of Peace Catholic Church when they were children. The chuch first started out as a predominately black Catholic Church and has been here for around 70 years. When Jackie and Ronnie were growing up, the problem of seggregation was apparent in the schools, churches, and restaurants. Jackie and ronnie's church posed as a sanctuary and safe haven for them after school hours or whenever they needed a place to go. I found it interesting how this church served as more than just a church for them and other people in the community. In my personal experience, my home town church never acted this way for me or other members. There were no activities after school or events that made me feel part of the community. What's great about our Lady Queen of Peace today is that this church values their members and wants to be that support system for the community.  This parish makes sure that everyone feels welcomed and cared for. Today, they have many different styles of masses, like Gospel mass and a Spanish mass.

These women also had the privilege to see Martin Luther King Jr during the Civil rights movement. Jackie even said that she climbed a tree to get to see him give his powerful speech. Both of these women were a pleasure to meet. I absolutely loved hearing their personal stories and experiences growing up during the time of the civil rights movement and all of the drastic changes that occurred in the US. I can't wait to learn to more throughout this trip!

Alumni Lunch!

Matthew 25 and Alumni  Lunch
We spent Sunday morning working in the Matthew 25 center  sorting clothing and helping out.  After the sorting we met with DC area alumni who treated us to a Panera lunch.  The event was coordinated by Imani Stutely () and Emily Hamscher Kindred (0.  Alums present were Jeff Sch  1996, Nikki 2004, Camille Pottinger 2013, Charquinta McCray 2013 and 2015 and Talia Kirkland
After the lunch we all went down to the storage center to do more work for the Matthew 25 Center  with the alums until we said goodbye to them at around 3:30 pm.   

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Church! Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace

Today we got the chance to attend mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace. Personally, I’ve never had the best experience with the Catholic Church. Usually within the hour that mass takes, you can find me daydreaming about anything other than God. My view of the Catholic Church probably wasn’t the best either. Not only did I find it boring but I always saw it as a very exclusive religion in which people could only participate if they fit the Catholic mold.
That’s why when I came to Our Lady Queen of Peace, I was very thoroughly surprised by the Church community. Everything about it was so much different from what I knew about the Catholic Church.  The church was full of diverse people on fire for God. I loved how everyone was so warm and inviting and when they worshipped, they were extremely enthusiastic.
The people there weren’t just from a White background but there were also Hispanics and Blacks there too. They were very inclusive of people with disabilities and people in the LGBT community. To see this kind of diverse community as part of the Church really showed me how God sees each and everyone of us as important to his beautiful Kingdom.


We are still behind and only have 2 days to go in our fundraising. ....please help us reach our goal and we'll post a #dabforfunds  video......

Our arrival

We had a great trip and arrived at OLQP at 3:30.  After getting out of our vehicles we were greeted by Dr. Dennis Woytek,  Fr. Jean Michel and Talia and the who are filming a documentary about the parish and the ministries.  They wanted to film our arrival, so.......we got back in the vehicles, circled the building and arrived a second time for the cameras! 
In the evening we had some community time with the priests in residence,  Fr Tim, Fr Tom and Fr Brendan and some great Thai food!  We concluded the night with reflection time then lights out.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

First day at Our Lady Queen of Peace

Today is the first day of the urban plunge in Arlington Virginia. It has not been at all what I’ve expected thus far, though I admit I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expected. Maybe it was awful childhood experiences camping with my father, but I was imaging our trip to be dirty, or even uncomfortable. Today, was exactly the opposite. We arrived in Arlington, a place not unlike any average suburb of Pittsburgh. I found myself feeling rather at home. That feeling has only increased since visiting Our Lady Queen of Peace. The priests here, the rectory even, remind me forcibly of St. Januarius in my hometown of Plum. Just when I begin to think that I am becoming familiar with this place, we have our first group discussion. I hear the stories of my colleagues and some words of wisdom on what to expect here. I realize that I know nothing about the two separate communities that could easily be at odds with one another, or reconciled to form a great Catholic community. I realize in this moment, in our group reflection that this trip will not solely be about giving material items to this person or that person, but also to help construct the emotional building blocks necessary to create a community in complete solidarity.
Our home for the week.