Saint Anselm Community Travels to Philadelphia to See Pope Francis

Saint Anselm students at Papal Mass

At three-thirty on the dot on the morning of September 27, 2015, 54 students, faculty, and staff boarded a double decker bus in pursuit of the Holy Father of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis. The short trip, spanning only 24 hours, resembled a modern day pilgrimage: the participants sacrificed sleep, routine, and a normal weekend for a chance to gain a glimpse of the Pope.

Last week, Sept. 21-25, the Saint Anselm College community watched as Pope Francis traveled from Washington D.C., to New York City, N.Y., to Philadelphia, Penn. The main event on Sunday, Sept. 27, on the last leg of the visit, was a Mass for the Family, focused on the aspect of the modern, varied family, celebrated by the Holy Father himself.

Saint Anselm students at Papal MassThe 4 p.m. Mass was scheduled a mere 12 hours after the participants left Saint Anselm College. The group arrived in Philadelphia, Penn. at noon, parked, and made their way into the center of the city. When they finally reached The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where they hoped to be able to enter the inner crowd closest to the Pope, they found the area unfortunately already full.

However, even from far away, the group was able to celebrate the beauty of the Mass. A few blocks away, they were still within earshot of the echo of the speakers and the incredible choir.

Director of Campus Ministry, Susan Gabert described the experience of Mass saying, “Just being at a Mass led by our shepherd the Holy Father, with 1.5 million others – singing hymns, praying the our father, exchanging the sign of peace. It was so moving. Such a tangible example of the universality of our Catholic Church.”

Participant Kayla Patten ’17 said, “Holding hands while singing the “Our Father’ was one of the most moving experiences of the entire trip.”

The Pope’s homily proclaimed by the modern day Prophet, focused on themes of community and love. As Gabert explained, “He said ‘Holiness is always tied to small gestures…love shown by little things.’” She continued, “He called us to action of love in our homes, in our society, asking ‘what kind of world do we want to leave for our children?’”

While many predicted that the Holy Father would focus on heated issues, he chose to expound on the message of the coming Year of Mercy, which will focus on the idea that "No one can be excluded from God's mercy."

Participants connected their experience to the Pope’s message. “We were able to take this opportunity to recognize ourselves and others together as part of God's family, seeing one another not as strangers, but as sons and daughters of Christ, made in His image,” said Jenny Richard ’17.

Many, including Campus Minister Andrew Fellows commented that this Pope makes him very proud to be a Catholic.

“If you ask me, going to see the Pope is definitely a once in a lifetime experience,” said freshman Braelyn Croteau, who hoped this opportunity would help her connect with God another way.

“He is the closest path to God, and praying with him will only strengthen my prayer. I am humbled that I was in his presence.”

The trip was sponsored by the generosity of the college chapter of the Knights of Columbus.

This amazing opportunity is truly an example of our Patron, Saint Anselm’s eternal message of “faith seeking understanding.” This opportunity to live out the Benedictine tradition of the Catholic Faith is priceless to our own Anselmians but to all who were able to attend.

Saint Anselm College Welcomes the Daughters of Isabella

Daughters of Isabella 2013

On Saturday, March 22, 2013, nearly 70 women from Saint Anselm College were inducted into the newly formed Saint Anselm College circle of the Daughters of Isabella. The group, which focuses on the teachings of the Catholic faith and the unity of the women involved, has brought together more than 60,000 women in Canada and the United States.

Daughters of Isabella 2013

The 2013 class of Daughters of Isabella. Photo by Dao Le '15.

Founded in 1897, the group was started as a women's version of the Knights of Columbus and focuses primarily on unity, charity, and friendship. The group’s goal is to follow in the steps of their patroness, Queen Isabella of Castile, to assist in the promotion of the good of society by following the teachings of the Catholic tradition and taking part in acts that aid in the betterment of society.

As a new addition to campus, the induction of 66 women into the group was a first in the history of Saint Anselm College. The conferral, which included the group’s chaplain Father Anselm Smedile, O.S.B., and four international members of the Daughters of Isabella, took place in a private, spiritual ceremony in the lower Abbey Church. Following the private conferral was a public induction of the group’s officers, who were accompanied by Saint Anselm College's Knights of Columbus.

After Saturday’s conferral ceremony, the new circle of the Daughters of Isabella joined together to attend the Palm Sunday Mass in the Abbey Church, followed by a reception in Cushing’s North Lounge, and the group’s first official business meeting, where the group discussed what to look forward to as the group proceeds.

Due to the hard work and tremendous efforts of sophomore founder and regent, Molly White ’15 and the group’s advisor and treasurer, Director of Campus Ministry Sue Gabert '91, the weekend was a successful and rewarding one for all involved.

“I feel so blessed to be working with such an amazing group of energetic and dedicated women. These girls have come together in faith to serve our community. Based on the motto, 'Unity, Friendship, and Charity,' the Daughters of Isabella strive to foster communities where these three characteristics thrive, and I am so grateful to all 66 of these girls for coming together with their enthusiasm to move forward serving as a new family,” said White.

All of the new members of the Daughters of Isabella are greatly looking forward to a successful future at Saint Anselm College.

Student Reflects on 'Sandy' Relief Service Trip

Saint Anselm College volunteers

My name is Margaret Tereschuk and I am a senior, criminal justice major. Two weeks ago, I volunteered to be a part of a Hurricane Sandy relief group of 17 students. I am embarrassed to admit this, but it is the first time I have taken advantage of one of the amazing service programs that Saint Anselm provides. I was looking through my emails one day, and happened to see that Campus Ministry was assembling groups of students to lend a hand. I saw on the news the damage done by the hurricane and felt compelled to help. Also, I figured it would most likely be my last chance to take advantage of an opportunity like this.

A boarded up buildingI was a member of a group that took the 5 ½ hour journey to Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday, and Staten Island on Sunday. I was instantly shocked when I saw how bad the conditions really were, and I was angered that the attention being paid to this disaster paled so greatly in comparison to how grave the conditions actually were. They had been cleaning up for at least a month by the time we arrived, and it still looked like a scene from a movie about the apocalypse. People’s homes were torn apart, the foundations were destroyed, and all of their belongings were in soggy, moldy heaps on their driveways and in the street. Houses were missing their sides, and some looked as though they were ripped from their foundations and haphazardly thrown to another location. It took me a while to come to terms with the situation, and it was difficult to keep my emotions in check.

At both locations, we arrived at our sites and joined up with other volunteers from different organizations, and civilians who wanted to do their part. I was moved by how many people joined together to help. People were donating various supplies, others were cooking for the volunteers and victims, massages were provided for those who were suffering from stress, trauma counseling was made available, garbage men were removing massive piles of garbage free of charge, and, like us, several people were working on the houses.

The volunteers were split up into groups and dispatched to different addresses. When we arrived, the homeowners told us what they needed done, and our job was to do anything that would make their lives easier and lighten their load, both emotionally and physically. We tore down drywall and ceilings, removed insulation from the walls, sifted through the remains of people’s belongings to see if anything was salvageable, cleared out trashed and flooded basements, removed carpet, moved furniture out, and helped load moving trucks. In my opinion, the most valuable thing we did was listen to the stories of the victims, let them vent to us, and help them to realize that they were not alone.

There were countless memorable moments during my two-day trip, but one especially made an impression on me. We went to an older woman's home where we helped her, her brother, and her son tear down drywall and insulation. After we completed the job, the younger man, who was a homicide detective in the NYPD, thanked us repeatedly for helping him with the work on his mother’s home. All of the sudden, he began to talk. We stood there in silence and listened for about an hour. He shared his story of how he was in his car during the storm, and the tide lifted it and swept it away. Before he rolled his windows down to brave the rapids, he called all of his loved ones and said his goodbyes. He swam for 40 minutes, not knowing if he would be saved, if he would drown, or if a power line would snap and fall into the water. Luckily, he survived.

Saint Anselm College volunteersHe also shared with us that he lost his mother’s sister in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he was there when the south tower collapsed, and that he lost several of his best friends who were firefighters and police officers. This man had been through two different horrible experiences in his life that no one should ever have to endure. The amazing part was his attitude. He told us how grateful he is for his life, how he used these hardships as wake-up calls to remind him of how blessed he is, and that he is positive that God is watching over him and protecting him at all times. These experiences have not ruined him or made him a pessimist, although this would have been quite understandable; they have strengthened him, and this man was an inspiration. Throughout his story I held back tears. We were all stunned, and we were immediately grateful for our lives. We were made aware that things like finals, homework, and college drama really weren’t so hard. This man, whom we met by chance, had changed our lives in a matter of 60 minutes.

The trip greatly exceeded every expectation I had, and it completely changed my perspective on life. One thing I learned is that no matter how bad things seem, there will always be someone else who has it much worse. Surprisingly enough, the people who do have it worse usually have an amazingly optimistic attitude and a rock-solid belief in their faith.

The second thing I learned was that there is no greater feeling than helping others and getting nothing in return. It is a feeling that I hope to get much more frequently by volunteering and helping out as many people as I can.

Finally, the third thing that I learned was that everyone who ever told me that I should take advantage of everything Saint Anselm College has to offer was right. If I could do one thing, it would be to share this story with everyone so that people do not pass up service and volunteer opportunities such as Spring and Winter Break Alternative, Road for Hope, Relay for Life, and Hurricane Relief Groups. There will always be someone who is in need of a helping hand, and one never knows when he/she might also be in need of one.

Editor's Note: This story was submitted by Margaret Tereschuk '13.

Students Walk 130 Miles for Annual Road for Hope

Road for Hope walkers

On August 17, 47 Saint Anselm students began the 130 mile trek from Lewiston, Maine to Saint Anselm College on the 14th annual Road for Hope. Walking-rain or shine-the students raise money for nine charities in Maine and N.H., many of which they will visit while on their walk.

Road for Hope participants return to campus on Saturday, August 25. Follow them on their journey through the Road for Hope blog.

We caught up with our 47 walkers in Rochester, New Hampshire in the middle of their 130 mile journey back to campus. Spirits were high (as was the energy level) at the midway point in their trek.


Reflecting on the Spring Break Alternative Experience

I may be thousands of miles from Honduras, yet a part of me is still there. I'll always remember my first visit to this country and forge ahead with a new found appreciation for how lucky I am.

Being back on campus is an adjustment, dealing with the day-to-day nuances of life at college: the work, meetings, and fast pace of life. Yet, I now understand the futility of these worries, for there are larger concerns, bigger challenges, and better rewards.

My Spring Break Alternative (SBA) trip left campus Friday morning, February 27 at 3:30 a.m. with 14 participants bound for Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (N.P.H.), a ranch for orphaned children in the hills outside the capital city, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Descending out of the clouds, I had my first view of the Honduran countryside, rugged mountain terrain reached skyward, sometimes reaching exceedingly close to the plane as we spiraled down to land in Tegucigalpa, described as one of the "ten most dangerous runways in the world." As we bounced onto the runway and decelerated, I became slightly overwhelmed that Honduras would be my home away from home for the next week.

Entering a New World

Our trip through the city was my first of many eye-opening experiences. Weaving in and out of the clogged, smoggy and at times, seemingly impassible roads, I received my first tour of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. Men stood outside local business, armed with shotguns dissuading potential crime, while feet away, children played soccer in the street.

The juxtaposition of promise and poverty and the contrast between danger and innocence, clashed before my eyes; an impression that only grew for me as we reached our host-site, Rancho Santa Fe.

Passing through the gate took us into a different world, a seemingly self-sustaining world of sorts. Lush gardens blossomed, a working farm provided thousands of eggs daily to feed the community. A small, squat building near the center of the ranch was the production hub where some 2,000 tortillas were produced. Here the physical poverty seen during our drive to N.P.H. seemed so far away.

And Then There Were the Children

And then there were the children: 500 children, who are without parents, victims of abuse, rape, poverty, and unimaginable despair; children of all ages, from toddlers to adults. Children who come from all backgrounds, but share a common trait: they are parentless, and are dependent on N.P.H. was through these children, who spoke a different language than I, but through whom I felt a connection, that I learned of a new experience: emotional poverty.

I saw it in their faces. Even if you couldn't understand what they were saying, you knew that each of these children had been through gross injustices.

You knew, you could feel, you could sense, the emotion; and you could truly feel the love and excitement they had for the personal attention we gave each of them.

Whether holding a hand, hoisting a child onto our shoulders, running around playing soccer or sharing a meal together, the compassion myself and my fellow participants were able to show, and the one-on-one attention we provided truly made a difference. Each afternoon, and again in the evening we spent time with the kids, enriching their day through any means possible.

Even more overwhelming was the time we spent visiting Casa Angeles, a home managed by N.P.H. for severely disabled children. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, the intense experience at Casa Angeles reaffirmed for me the compassion and sympathy of each of my fellow participants.

Life Lessons

I learned a lot about myself on this trip.

I learned how simple life really can be: I can get by with one plate, one bowl and one spoon; I don’t need an iPod, or a cell phone for entertainment.

I realized how lucky I am to have the means to eat a healthy, nourishing meal, three times a day.

I learned the importance of family. I realized how dependent I am on other people, with whom I share emotions, laughter, sadness, and joy.

As our plane banked left over the city during our departure, and I looked out over the sprawling mass of humanity below me, I realized how lucky I was to have the opportunity to be on this trip, with my group of fellow participants. I realized I had been part of a lesson that I’ll always carry with me: the true meaning of love.

See additional photos from SBA Honduras on our Flickr page.

By: Cory True
SBA Honduras