A Ministry of Presence: Laila Ettefagh (PACT 14) Leads Students on a Mission Trip to Ecuador
Over Thanksgiving break this year, I had the privilege of leading a group of 12 students to Arbolito, Ecuador, a small neighborhood in Duran. Through this trip, I served as both a chaperone and retreatant with the Rostro de Christo volunteer corps, and the work was centered in the ministry of presence: instead of trying to build or give things to the people of Duran, we simply were with them. In neighborhood visits, after school programs, and trips to the Damien House, a hospital for patients recovering from Hansens disease, the students and I worked to build community with one another and all those we met, showing love and experiencing Christ together. Through this trip and my time in Ecuador, I not only was afforded the chance to have such an incredible experience, but also go the incredible gift of seeing my students transform and grow in their faith and community. This was truly an experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. As I grew to love and cherish my students and the people I met even more throughout the week, one thing became abundantly clear: yes, it is possible to be poor in “things”, and that is a shame. However, it is also possible to be wealthy in people, Christ, and love, and that is what truly nurtures joy.
PACT Teachers Make a Pilgrimage to see Pope Francis
During the weekend of September 26-27, 2015, seven PACT teachers made the trip to Philadelphia to celebrate the World Meeting of Families. Lizzy Westbrook, a PACT 15 teacher, recounts the experience:
"Traveling to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families was truly an amazing experience. I expected the trip to be exciting and fun, but I did not expect it to have such a profound impact on my faith. While Pope Francis is the leader of the entire Catholic Church, a huge responsibility and honor, he was so normal and beautifully simple in his interactions with others. His passion and excitement for the Gospel and social justice were honest and real. It was incredible to see a man with so much power and responsibility acting so human, for lack of a better word. I do not speak Spanish at all, but I do know a few words. One of the most profound moments for me was during Pope Francis's homily on Sunday. One word that I was able to pick out again and again was "pequeño," which means small. Thanks to the English subtitles displayed on the jumbo-tron, I was able to see that Pope Francis kept saying "pequeño" in reference to the small ways that we can show our love to one another. It was refreshing to hear the leader of our Church say that the small things we do are enough, and while we should always strive to be saintly, we do not have to something drastic or huge to show our love to one another and to God. I am so thankful that I got to share this experience with some of the PACT family and hundreds of thousands of my brothers and sisters in Christ."
PACT 14 and 15 Begin Teaching
The 42 members of PACT cohort 14 and 15 are now in their classrooms and starting the year as full-time teachers. The Rhode Island Catholic recently included a photo of PACT 15 member Enedina Maya during the Providence Diocesan Orientation Day for new teachers. Enedina teachers high school math at St. Raphael's Academy in Pawtucket. Read the article here.
Summertime Excursions around New England
While the PACT summer has a demanding course load, PACT students still have time to explore beautiful New England. This summer, PACT students explored the Providence and Boston areas, along with the beaches and coastal towns of Southern New England. Two highlights were a camping trip and a July 4th party on Cape Cod hosted by the PACT Hyannis community.