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Diocese of Lake Charles

A group of high school students from The Highlands School in Irving, Texas chose to be the hands and feet of Christ over their recent spring break, helping many still trying to pick up the pieces from last year’s back-to-back hurricanes in the Diocese of Lake Charles.

Father Adam Zettel, chaplain for the Regnum Christi (Latin for “Kingdom of Christ”) school, stressed the importance of doing missionary work.

“One of the main aspects of our charism is forming apostles to change the world,” said Father Zettel, a priest for the Legionaries of Christ in the Diocese of Dallas. “We are constantly organizing missions with a desire that students who go through our formation will finish high school as people who possess a drive to change the world, to do good, and to evangelize.”

Students from The Highlands School in Irving, Texas, assist
with hurricane recovery in the Diocese of Lake Charles at the
home of a man whose yard was still a disaster more than
six months after Hurricane Laura.

In addition to Father Zettel, the mission included 37 volunteers — 17 girls, 10 boys, and 10 adult chaperones — divided into several teams to be of service to others during their visit March 13-18.

“Catholic Charities put us in touch with individual homeowners,” Father Zettel said. “One was for a man who isn’t physically able to take care of his yard, which was still a disaster nearly seven months later. We pulled up trees and picked up branches. Another elderly family needed a wheelchair ramp, so a team spent all day and part of another building that.”

Other projects over their six-day mission included building a fence for a Sulphur homeowner, gutting a house in Jennings, serving lunches at Abraham’s Tent, bagging groceries at Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana, and cleaning debris out of the diocese’s Chancery administration building.

Building a wheelchair ramp was one of the several projects
a team of students from Irving, Texas, completed on their
spring break while helping with hurricane recovery
in the Diocese of Lake Charles.

This was the first mission experience for Basilio Rosales, an 11th-grade student at The Highlands, who admits thinking the trip was not something for him when Father Zettel first mentioned it.

“The more I thought about it and seeing other people so excited to help people, I thought, ‘How would my spring break be fruitful for me by staying home and not doing anything,’ so I decided to spend my time doing something for others,” Rosales said. “We are taught to let Christ shine through us, so that’s something we are trying to do here.”

Participating in a mission wasn’t new for Mounika Bollineni and Maya Flores, also 11th-graders, but it was the first time for them to assist in their neighboring state of Louisiana.

“I had heard about Hurricane Laura, but I did not realize the extent of the damage until I arrived,” said Flores. “It was a good opportunity to come and help others instead of just sitting around my house during spring break.”

Bagging groceries at Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana
in Lake Charles was one of the many ways students from
The Highland School in Irving, Texas, volunteered their time
while spending their spring break in the Diocese of Lake Charles.

Bollineni said she had never seen communities directly affected by a hurricane and liked the idea of being able to help people in another state. “When I saw all the damage (on the news), I knew we had a lot to offer, and I was very capable of doing the work,” she said.

Accepting the challenge as a first-timer, 9th-grader Gianni Guez made the choice to use his “young self” to sacrifice for older people.

“Being able to sacrifice for others is a great feeling,” said Guez, who has this message for other young people faced with a similar opportunity: “You only live once. If you love Christ, and you love helping people, and you want to travel, just do it,” Guez said. “It’s perfect for teenagers.”

The mission trip wrapped up with a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cameron before the group headed back to Texas on March 18.

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