Our Youth

VCBB Mission Trip Makes an Impact

On a mission trip to New Orleans, diocesan youth attended Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Fernand J. Cheri of New Orleans. Next to Bishop Cheri is Father Cyprian Davis, notable black Catholic Historian. Father Maurice Nutt, C.Ss.R., director, Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University, stands far right, while Father Dwayne Davis, mission trip coordinator, is at left.

By Nicole Noel

The youth from the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns (VBCC) Youth Leadership Ambassador Program were given the opportunity to travel to New Orleans, La., April 6- 9 on a mission trip with Father Dwayne Davis, parochial vicar from St. Thomas Aquinas parish, Flatlands.

Every year the group participates in a community service project locally. This year, we were invited to New Orleans to tour Xavier University, the only black Catholic university in the U.S., attend a lecture honoring Father Cyprian Davis, O.S.B., as well as to perform community service at the Xavier Outreach Center.
Nine youth and a few chaperones made the trip.

yp-mission3At the Outreach Center we met youth from Baton Rouge, La., and Cleveland, Ohio, who were also there that day to perform community service. We broke into groups and some of us helped to build a chicken coop.

“It was a very memorable experience,” said Dillon Dorner from St. Thomas Aquinas. “I enjoyed making the senior citizens smile and laugh. I helped build a chicken coop. It helped me get an understanding for what these folks do and I had fun doing it.”

Some of us assisted the community with gardening efforts. Others went to homes in the Gert Town community, where we exchanged incandescent light bulbs for energy efficient ones, working with the Green Light Project.

“I enjoyed interacting with the youth from Baton Rouge and Cleveland,” said Mark Enobakhare from St. Catherine of Sienna Church, St. Albans. “We worked in the garden. The garden benefits the people of Gert Town.”

“It was fun,” added Abigail Agbi also from St. Catherine of Sienna. “We installed energy efficient light bulbs into different houses in the community.”

The people freely accepted us into their homes even though they had no idea who we were. In Gert Town you can still see damage that’s prevalent in the area even 10 years after Hurricane Katrina. Most of the people we spoke to left New Orleans before the storm hit and came back to New Orleans several years later.

yp-mission4Each of us came back with our own stories of what we experienced.

“It was nice to help the less fortunate. It made me feel good inside,” shared Nia Petillo from St. Clement Pope, Jamaica.

“I loved helping the elders of the community. They were very sweet and welcoming. I wish we could have done more.”

Leave Your Roots

We attended Mass at Xavier University where the celebrant was the newly ordained Bishop Fernand J. Cheri, auxiliary bishop of New Orleans. He was very welcoming. He spoke to us about making the most of our experiences. He told us to make sure that wherever God places you – whether you want to be there or not – leave your roots. He said that God needs you to be there for a reason.

As a senior in high school this really impacted me. I am excited to start college but I will keep the bishop’s words in mind. I am ready to take all that I have learned from this mission experience with me as I start a new chapter in my life.

Historian Honored

We also attended a lecture at Xavier University where they honored Father Cyprian Davis, author of “The History of Black Catholics in the United States” for the 25th anniversary of the book being published.

He is the author of several other books and a new edition of “The History of Black Catholics in the United States” is being released toward the end of 2015.

We had the opportunity to tour the French Quarter. We went to visit the Cathedral and the well-known Café du Monde, where we bought the very famous beignets. Some of us even got the opportunity to visit the World War II Museum. It was a truly wonderful experience seeing what so many of our country’s heroes have done for us so that we can live in the greatest country in the world.

All young people should take the opportunity to do community service or go on a mission at some point in life. It is a very rewarding and humbling experience.

Noel, a senior at St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, is a member of Our Lady of Light parish, St. Albans.