Immersion in Monterrey for Archbishop Hoban High School Students

Where do your students find Christ present in others? Where are they detached from the buzz of phones? Where have they crossed borders of nations, of assumptions, of customs, of languages?

Archbishop Hoban High School students and chaperones recently had such experiences on a weeklong immersion experience at La Luz Parish in Monterrey, Mexico. In February, the students spent seven days working at the parish’s chapels, attending mass at different parishes, and getting to know Holy Cross through Padre Pedro Carreño, C.S.C., and Padre Armando Morales, C.S.C.

On the first day, students received “the warmest welcome anyone could have asked for,” according to chaperone Sra. Amy Zeller. The young adult groups (ages 13-35) from La Luz parish hosted dinner and a meet-and-greet to welcome the travelers. There was a DJ and lots of games to help break the ice. Hoban students were nervous at first to try to communicate in Spanish with strangers, but topics like music helped break down the wall of nervousness and soon Hoban students were using their Spanish and the young people of Monterrey were trying out their English.

The next day, Hoban students sorted and passed out non-perishable foods to those in need from the community at San Matias Church and then delivered the bags to parishioners who could not make it to the church themselves, engaging in conversation to hear firsthand how life was for them in Monterrey.

At San Matias Church, the students prepared a party for younger children in catechesis classes, bringing stickers, coloring books, and coloring supplies to play with the kids and to send home with them. One afternoon was spent playing and connecting with the teens and young adults (ages 14-21) of La Luz Parish by participating in their weekend retreat, titled “Jesus adolescente.” Hoban students joined teams of the retreatants in community-building activities, including games such as “pass the flour” and “don’t let the balloon drop.”

The Hoban students also had the opportunity to witness the different programs offered at the various chapels, ranging from medical services to Bible studies. Though parishes throughout the U.S. facilitate small groups for Bible studies and the Catholic healthcare system in the U.S. is extensive, seeing Bible study and medical services both housed at a local parish offered students the ability to see the Church’s spiritual and corporal works of mercy anew.

Of course, the group also took advantage of the locale: they did a day tour of Monterrey to take in its natural beauty and enjoy its culinary scene. They were also fortunate to be invited into families’ homes on two nights, where they had an authentic Mexican fiesta with food, fun, and games. “Just Dance” was the group favorite.

As with any Holy Cross immersion, each evening included time for prayer and reflection. Padre Pedro often led these discussions. Students were again able to develop their Spanish skills, which seemed especially apt. Faith can feel like a foreign language sometimes; but it too can be learned through practice in a supportive community. Thank you to La Luz Parish, especially Fr. Pedro and Fr. Armando, for providing such a memorable immersion experience for our friends at Archbishop Hoban High School.

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Published: April 19, 2024

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