Over the past few years, Our Faith in Action program has supported communities in Peru, Brownsville, and the South Bronx by raising money, connecting with the people, traveling to those communities to stand in solidarity and advocate for the poor. This year, we decided that even though we could not travel to these places, it was even more important that we continue to support these communities not only financially but by empowering out students to speak out for the poor in these communities.
Therefore, this year we launched our Faith in Action Virtual Immersion program. The purpose was to raise awareness and advocate for the poor through regular meetings, presentations, and connections with the people in the Vancouver area who work with the issues of immigration and poverty. The students raised $14,000 through dress down days, a 12 hour relay, donut sales, our Giving Tree (Christmas event), and other various events throughout the school year. The money will be sent to the three communities to help with building costs and educational needs specific to each community. The year's work culminated in our first Faith In Action Week, March 8-12 2021. The three teams each had an opportunity to advocate for the communities they served by sharing what they learned in engaging and creative ways. The students also had an opportunity retreat and reflect on the work and learning they had done.
Maureen Wicken and the Brownsville team created a presentation of their and the issues faced by immigrants in the USA. Over two days, the team had a retreat where they reflected on the almost weekly meetings where they delved into the issues. A few highlights were conference calls with Mr. Motyl (President of Guadalupe Regional Middle School) and with Bishop Flores of Brownsville, as well as with Fr. Richard Zanotti and Sister Karina who head up the Archdiocesan Migrant Worker Ministry in Vancouver, BC. The students prepared a 25 minute interactive presentation and in pairs, they went to various classes from K-12 to present their work and what they learned in the community that they served.
Paul Legge and the Peru team coordinated a 12 hour relay walk. The distance covered was representative of the distance from Casa Hendricken to Jicamarca. They invited different classes to come and walk with them as well. They also created a Peru Pavilion which consisted of items from Peru, art work, and a full scale wooden structure representing the house being built so that the students could get a feel for the type of dwelling found in Jicamarca. Br. Casey was streamed live and spoke to groups of students as a home was built in real time. The week culminated with a day retreat to reflect and give thanks for the support of the community.
Chris Seppelt and the South Bronx team prepared two morning prayers sharing with the school community the work that they did. During the week, they engaged in lunchtime pizza chats with students from St. Ann's School in New York with pizza supplied by our students. The connections made between students were very powerful.
We are so thankful for all our students who, although they could not travel to these communities this year, put in many hours of extra work to educate Vancouver College students and staff about the importance of Faith in Action in our school.