Entering its 19th year, the missions program trains students to spend one week during early June celebrating the liturgies and providing religious education to the poor families in rural Texas or a Latin American country. Each year, Saint Joseph Academy commits to serving a designated area that includes isolated and low-income communities and towns. During the week, students offer catechetical classes, Holy Week liturgies (including Eucharistic para-liturgies), and general evangelization. Most trips are organized by www.CatholicMissionTrips.net.
Approximately 110 students participate. To prepare, students meet weekly, spending hours of their free time to learn methods of catechesis and evangelization. Much time is devoted to teaching students how to prepare a liturgy and give a homily as well as engage the towns’ residents on faith-related issues in a non-threatening way. The students also attend a mid-January retreat led by the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.
Three Saint Joseph Academy faculty members (working in-kind) are involved in the program. Program supervision is provided by about 20 volunteers – generally parents and alumni. While in the mission towns, students often sleep in the local school or community buildings. While in on missions, students provide catechesis to both children and adults.