South Charlotte

Charlotte Catholic students minister to the poor in Jamaica

From left, Anna Fitzpatrick, MeKayla Gough, and Aleesha Miller enjoy some bonding time with three children from the orphanage.
From left, Anna Fitzpatrick, MeKayla Gough, and Aleesha Miller enjoy some bonding time with three children from the orphanage.

Twenty-two Charlotte Catholic students traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, for their spring break to work alongside the Missionaries of the Poor, providing help and companionship to those with little or nothing.

The Missionaries of the Poor operate several different centers in Kingston, tending to the needs of orphaned children, adults with AIDS and adults with severe mental and physical disabilities. The sophomores, juniors and seniors clothed, diapered, fed and played with the children. The young men in the group shaved and talked with the men at the centers, assisting with many of their needs.

The students cleaned and helped wherever they could at the adult center, rubbing cream on the elderly, feeding those unable to feed themselves, and providing companionship. In addition, they worked alongside the Sisters within the mission, helping the elderly and orphaned children in their care.

Junior MeKayla Gough was taken aback at first by the joy that exuded from the children. “These kids at the orphanage have nothing,” she said. “No parents, toys or even clothing to call their own. Despite their situations and personal disabilities, those kids are the happiest children I’ve ever had the joy of meeting. ...

“These kids have changed my life,” Gough said. “One little boy named Bob is missing an arm and a leg, yet I have never seen a wider smile on anyone’s face. He’s my hero, because despite the hand that life dealt him, he can somehow still see the joy and hope in life.”

The students immersed themselves in the missionary life, living with the Brothers, praying daily with them, and partaking of the life to which the Brothers have committed themselves. They celebrated Holy Thursday Mass with the Missionaries of the Poor and engaged in the washing of the feet with the Church community.

“It was most joyful when we offered each other the Sign of Peace,” said school counselor Jen Murlless, who accompanied the students. “The church sang out with ‘Amen’ over and over, to the beat of the drum and the clanging of the tambourine, while everyone walked around the church shaking hands and hugging the Brothers, Sisters and church members.”

“We were welcomed into the community with open arms,” MeKayla added. There were no barriers whatsoever and I think that’s what was so beautiful about the entire trip. I’ve honestly never experienced such an engaging and joyful Mass. I think I hugged every person in that church!”

On Good Friday, the students walked throughout Kingston observing the Stations of the Cross. Michael Neel, a sophomore, and Gary Hoilett, a chaperone, carried the cross while many of the students carried an image of the Station.

“It was an intense experience,” MeKayla said. “It was sweltering hot, and we were kneeling on the burning-hot street. When we got back to the church, Father asked his how we felt. We all said we were exhausted. He then asked us how Jesus must have felt, because we had only walked 200 meters around a park. And that was something to really think about.”

Scouting

Scout paves way for new worship space: A Fort Mill High School student, with the help of Scouts and adult leaders from Boy Scout Troop 275, in Indian Land, recently finished his Eagle Scout project – installing a large red-cedar cross as the centerpiece of a new brick plaza at Living Saviour Lutheran Church on Carmel Road in south Charlotte.

A host of volunteers spent two weekends helping Senior Patrol Leader Andrew LaFollette, a rising junior at Fort Mill High School, complete his Eagle Scout project.

Andrew and his parents, Joe and Robin LaFollette, are members of Living Saviour, 6817 Carmel Road. Although Andrew has been working on the project for six months, the final installation of the brick base, the 8-foot-tall cross and sturdy wooden benches took place April 29.

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