With a secular headwind rising in force each year, it isn't often that adolescents have an opportunity to openly carry their Christian faith forward in a confidently public way. And yet, that is exactly what the St. Thomas Aquinas High School Saints were invited to do yesterday.
At a school Mass back in February, STA Chaplain Fr. Andrew Nelson invited students to join him in a first-ever pilgrimage to Boston. Understanding the importance of helping young people relate their Christianity to everyday life, Fr. Andrew and the Director of Campus Ministry, Keith Adams, planned a day of faith, fellowship and fun.
Departing school early in the morning, our STA pilgrims (faculty, staff and parent chaperones included) traveled to Boston. Their journey included visits to the St. Francis Chapel in the Prudential Center, a stop at St. Cecilia's Church, a Fenway Park tour, a walk through the Holocaust Memorial, and Mass at the beautiful St. Leonard's Church in the North End.
As with any pilgrimage, those along the journey were encouraged to enter into a deeper understanding of their faith. Our students were encouraged to "unplug" for the day and to fully enter into the mission of the journey, which was to notice God in the little things. They were prompted to consider where they encounter God in their own lives and to see Him in the places, spaces and faces around them.
With a prayerful intention tucked inside their pockets at the beginning of the day, our Saints carried a wooden cross listing names of their prayer recipients throughout Boston. Along the way, they received quizzical glances and an occasional inquiry as to the purpose of their trip. With traditional STA candidness, our Saints answered honestly and confidently, "We're carrying Jesus."
And that, of course, is the foundational mission for us all.