SBA Travel Updates – Groups Return To Campus

All groups are en-route back to campus. Please keep our students in your prayers for their journey home. We also ask you to keep the agencies and those they serve in your prayers. These dedicated staffs will continue to do important work to meet the needs of the most vulnerable of our society.

SBA Mississippi returns home

SBA Mississippi returns home

Mississippi:  Had a wonderful week with Fr. Tim and Br. Terry.  They returned to Boston at 2 p.m. and arrived back on campus by 4 p.m. full of energy and joy!  A group who at first were anxious about how awkward it would be to spend the week together, are now a family.  They worked hard preparing Camp Glenmary for its summer campers and talk about going back to volunteer this summer.  Fr. Tim was sure to recruit and share stories of several Saint Anselm alumni who continue to spend a week at the camp each summer.

Maryland:  Took off early this morning for the long drive back to campus, but had a beautiful day for travel.  An amazing week at the Benedictine School, opening their hearts and arms to the children who live and study their.  An eye opening experience for sure.  Excited to be back on the hilltop to share their experiences with others.  The group arrived back on the hilltop at 5:00 p.m.

Education:  Arrived on campus after a full day of driving, the second day of their long journey from David, KY.  Amazingly they are full of energy and bursting with enthusiasm.  They had an amazing week assisting in the classroom and servicing at the David School!

Haiti:  We picked SBA Haiti up at the airport at 6:30 p.m.  They had a long day having left Be Like Brit at 5 a.m.  They are all nicely tanned and hearts full of the amazing week they had in Haiti.  The program provided them with the distinct opportunities:  spending time with the children, building a home for a young mother and her son, and taking excursions to learn about Haitian culture.  A wonderful week – thank you Melissa and the Be Like Brit family!

Philly:  This group served this morning at St. Francis Inn and hit the road after 1:30.  Cheering as they came into the North Lounge, the group arrived after 8 hours of driving by 9:50 p.m.  A tremendous week of lessons learned.  Welcome Home!

Gulf Coast: Landing in Logan around 8:45 p.m. the group was greeted by a group of staff and leaders at the airport.  This group rallied as they entered Upper Cushing to the cheers of the other group.  A week of cleaning up – 10 years after Hurricane Katrina!  Welcome back Anselmians!

Phoenix: Arrived at Logan airport at 11 p.m. and patiently waited for us to arrive.  Upon our arrival and welcome, and after a long day of travel, they choose to stay and welcome back the South Dakota trip!

South Dakota:  Arrived at 11:40 p.m. it took them a little while to get their bags and for us to sort out which terminal they were at.  When all was said and don it was just after midnight when we picked them up.  Both groups arrived back on the hilltop at 1:45 a.m. which soon, due to daylight saving, turned to 3 a.m.

SBA 2015 will is a wrap, a successful 25 years!  We look forward to hearing all the wonderful stories, after everyone gets some rest.  Goodnight all!

SBA Groups Begin Journey Back To Campus

It's hard to believe that the SBA week is coming to a close! Time certainly has flown by but the impact of this short week on our students will leave its imprint for years to come. We extend our gratitude and appreciation to the many agencies and their staffs that have opened their doors to us this past week.

SBA South Dakota group photoThank you for your tremendous hospitality. And thank you for the work you do each day in loving service of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are so often forgotten. Your example and continued efforts to recognize the dignity of each person you encounter is awe-inspiring.

So our groups begin their departures a little more tired than when they left the Hilltop, but with an awareness and a new perspective that we trust will inform, form, and transform them as they unpack from this short week's worth of encounters.

Travel Plans

Our SBA Education trip left David, KY this afternoon and will arrive at the hotel late this evening, completing the first leg of their two day journey back to the hilltop.

SBA Mississippi is spending the day in Memphis, TN touring the area; going to the MLK Jr. museum and will stay over in preparation for their departure tomorrow morning.

SBA South Dakota is having a tour today with Executive Director Ted and President of the Board Cory True, they will travel to the badlands, Mount Rushmore, and end the evening in Rapid City in preparation for their departure tomorrow morning.

The weather looks perfect for travel and by 1:30 tomorrow afternoon all trips but SBA Phoenix will be en route back to campus. Campus Minister Andy Fellows and I head down to Logan airport to pick-up SBA Mississippi, our first group to return to the Hilltop. Their flight is due in at 2 p.m. We anticipate being back on campus before 4 p.m. SBA Phoenix will finally join the rest of the trips heading back to the hilltop.

We expect SBA Maryland to be back on campus in the early evening and SBA Education in the later evening. We then pick-up SBA Haiti at 6:30 and SBA Gulf Coast at 8:30 p.m both at Logan.

SBA Philly will have departed the Inn in the early afternoon and should arrive back on campus around 9:30 p.m. Last but not least, we make one more trip to Logan to pick-up both SBA Phoenix and SBA South Dakota for 11:30/Midnight.

All groups will gather in the North Lounge for a Welcome Back Party – as trips arrive on campus between 8-11 p.m., giving SBA participants the opportunity to share stories, food, and laughter as they transition back to Saint Anselm. All groups should be settled and resting by the VERY early morning, then some rest before the rest of the Anselmian community returns to campus.

Big day ahead. Please pray for a safe journey home.

Mid-Week Check In

Wednesday was an exciting day; I was able to speak with the leaders from each group. It is so edifying to hear all the wonderful work and experiences our Spring Break Alternative groups are having. The leaders were so enthusiastic about all they were encountering.SBA Philly

South Dakota

I first heard from South Dakota on Tuesday night, it was great to hear the voices of leaders Haley Mount '15 and Riley Duggan '15.  For update on this trip see the previous blog!


First thing this morning before the school day began at the Benedictine School I received my first phone call of the day from leaders Molli Marshall '16 and Molly White '15.  Regardless of the early hour, they both were full of enthusiasm and energy.  The days are exhausting but really wonderful.  Each morning the group are assigned a classroom to assist in for the day.  These classes range from students who are very high functioning to those whose functioning is quite low.  So each of the Saint Anselm students have been able to engage with a wide spectrum of Benedictine students.

At 3 p.m. they head to the residence halls where they are able to interact with students doing fun activities, in the gym, or going to the pool.  One evening they were treated to dinner at The Manor, a home for men who have graduated from the Benedictine School and live in this group home.  After dinner Chas gave the group a tour of the Manor and then a concert.  It was a special treat.  Tonight they are joining the Benedictine sisters for Mass and dinner.  Tomorrow night the Saint Anselm students will perform, lip syncing Taylor Swift and You've Got a Friend in Me – this should be a real treat for the students of the Benedictine School.

Gulf Coast

SBA Gulf CoastNext I heard from leaders Maeve Harrington '15 and Jimmy Leonard '15.  When asked how they were, they both exclaimed "Livin' the Dream." While the weather has been unpredictable, they have enjoyed every day.  This trip's focus is on the continued clean-up 10 years following Hurricane Katrina.

Today they traveled to an island off the coast and were cleaning up trash.  Each day their site supervisor Steve – who is quite a character, gives the group a word for the day to focus them on the days work.  For some afternoons they have helped at the Boys & Girls Club after-school program.  In addition, they have painted and prepped the camp where they are staying, and are responsible for preparing meals. This afternoon Maeve sent me a Snapchat of the group on a peer having a chat with a pelican.  Looks like the south is treating them well!


Before long I received another phone call from Brenda Keys '17 and James Murphy '15.  They are enjoying the warmth and hospitality of Haiti and the Be Like Brit family.  Each day they head to their building project from eight to Noon.  The group is working on a home for a mother and her son.  For a variety of extenuating circumstances this mother and son have not been able to share a home for some time.

In the afternoon, following lunch, they are able to spend some time with 66 children, then the children head back to school and afternoon activities and our group heads out on excursions.  Then after dinner they spend more time with the children before reflection and bed.

Fr. Peter stopped into the office today and shared with us that this is the anniversary of Abbot Matthew's election as the 4th Abbot of Saint Anselm Abbey.  It is was fitting that he shared this, because one of the stories the leaders shared with me was the beauty of watching Abbot Matthew hold hands with a young Haitian boy was they crossed a river on a hike the other day.  I was not surprised to hear that Abbot Matthew is a favorite of the children.

This group's hearts are bursting with joy and love, and are truly grateful to the Be Like Brit organization for the amazing work they do.


I played a little bit of phone tag with leaders Molly Frost '15 and Shannon Hess '16.  They, like other leaders, were bubbling over with excitement to share their experiences at the David School in David, KY.

This school is an alternative school for approximately 25 students ages 13-19 in this area of Appalachia.  Our education majors/minors have really enjoyed the interactions they have had this week.  Each day they are assigned a classroom to spend the day in, during 7th period the group has been able to plan some activities for the students.

The school curriculum does not include art or languages, so during the 7th period students studying to be teachers planned activities doing an art exercise and some lessons in Spanish.  One of our students has been working all week with one of the teachers to put together a formal lesson plan on poetry.

Each Saint Anselm student has had the opportunity to lead a lesson.  Each evening they prepare and eat meals with the staff.  The other evening they visited a local Benedictine monastery, which was a real treat.

They look forward to the many adventures the rest of their week has in store for them.


This evening while walking my dog I received a call from Sean Casey '15 and Mercedes Thayer '16.  They too spoke of long but productive days.  Apparently the weather in Phoenix has been a little cooler and a bit more rainy than usual.  The group didn't seem to mind given the weather back here at home.

A special treat for this group is the opportunity to connect with alumnus Sam MacDonald '14 who is a post-grad volunteer at the Andre House. It's edifying to see our alumni engaged in service and sharing this witness with our current students.

Each morning the group arrives at the Andre House around 9 a.m. for a morning meeting to discuss the work of the day before and to prepare for the days work.  Each participant is assigned a task for the day:  food prep, laundry, thrift store, greeting guests as the porter, handing out tickets and so forth.

Then the group gets to work and is able to get to know the many guests of Andre House.  Last evening the group served 650 people.  In the evening they go to the Men's home and share dinner with them.

The group lives in solidarity with the guests of Andre House, sharing in the same meals each day and having the opportunity to get to know a number of the guests.  After 7 p.m. the group heads back to Our Lady of Guadelupe Benedictine Monastery where they are enjoying tremendous hospitality from their hosts the Benedictine sisters.


As the evening moved along I received a call from Elaina de Mello '16 and Stephen Sullivan '15.  While I have received several Snapchat videos and pictures from the group all week, I had yet to speak with them.

It was great to hear the energy and enthusiasm in their voices for the amazing week they are experiencing at St. Francis Inn.  Each day the group is assign various tasks – food prep, cleaning, food pick-ups and deliveries, thrift shop, and cleaning.  Then they serve the meal and greet the guests.

Last evening the group was able to spend time with Dan McVay '96 as he made a special trip over to the Inn to meet with our group and talk about his work in social services in the Philly area.  This was a special treat.
The group has really done a nice job of jumping in and taking the time to share with and get to know the many guests of the Inn.  They anticipate heading to the clinic and women's shelter in the next two days and are excited about what lay ahead of them this week.


Late this evening I heard from our final group, leaders Amy Sennott '15 and Holly Foster '15 called.  The group is having a wonderful week, enjoying real southern hospitality.  They both joked that they have been treated so well with local church and community members feeding them at every turn that they may have to go on a diet when they come back to campus.

The weather has proven to be a real challenge for our group this week. A few days before they had arrived there was a major ice storm causing 8,000 residences in the area to be without power.  Their housing had to be rearranged and the group has to travel about 45 minutes to and from the camp each day.

Once at the camp, there is no electricity – so on the rainy days the have propane heaters and work mostly indoors preparing the cabins, meeting areas, and kitchen of the camp for the upcoming season.  On nicer days they are outside raking leaves and working on the property.

They have truly felt blessed to have Br. Terry and Fr. Tim as their hosts for the week, and while the unexpected travel has had its challenges they have been able to really get a sense of the culture, community, and the housing disparity in this region of Northeast Mississippi.

All Trips Arrive at Overnight Destinations

Seven groups have arrived at their final destination, while SBA Education will finish their journey tomorrow. All trips have checked in, and many are posting additional photos on Twitter that you can see on the right-column of the blog, or by following #SACSBA on Twitter!

5:30 Haiti:  SBA Haiti arrived at their site in Grand Goave, greeted by 66 children singing to them and greeting them with open arms.  The group was tired but their spirits lifted by the joy of meeting the children they will work with this week.

SBA Haiti arrives at Be Like Brit

SBA Haiti arrives at host site "Be Like Brit"

5:30 p.m. Philly:  Leader Stephen Sullivan called, letting me know that the group arrived at about 5 p.m. and was greeted by Barbara on of St. Francis Inn's staff members.  She helped them to get settled, gave them a tour, and orientation.  The group is looking forward to beginning their work in the morning.

SBA Philly arrives at St. Francis Inn

SBA Philly arrives at the St. Francis Inn

6:30 p.m. Maryland & South Dakota:  Maryland leaders Molli Marshall '16 and Molly White '15 called to note their arrival after a bit of a detour in New York.  They settled into their housing for the week, went food shopping, and prepared a family dinner.  Tomorrow they head to Mass and then to D.C. for the day, work begins Monday.  South Dakota reached Pine Ridge, had dinner, and were guests at a Pow Wow on the reservation.

7:00 p.m. Phoenix & Mississippi: Phoenix arrived at their housing, and finally was able to settle in after a long travel day.  Mississippi also arrived at their housing, a change from the camp due to a storm last week that left 8,000 residences out of power. The group will now stay at the Faith Baptist Church about 35 minutes from the camp.  These friends of Fr. Tim graciously will house our group this week.  After a long day, adjusting to their new housing, our group was ready to get dinner and settle in for the night.

7:30 p.m. Education:  Our last trip arrived at today's stop-over destination.  Leader Shannon Hess '16 called, letting me know that the group made it to their hotel.  This stop is the first leg of the trip.  Tomorrow they will make the drive to their host site, arriving in David, KY in the afternoon.

Travel Updates: Groups Begin Arriving at Sites

It's been an exciting day! Over half the trips that departed this morning have arrived at their destination. For these groups travel has gone smoothly and all are in good spirits. More updates to come as our other groups reach their destinations later this afternoon.

South Dakota takes a selfie in Denver

South Dakota takes a selfie in Denver, awaiting their flight to Rapid City.

1:00 p.m. Phoenix:  I heard from leader Sean Casey '15 upon their arrival in Phoenix, AZ.  The group was able to get some rest on the flight, had gathered their bags, and were picking-up their rental vehicles for the week.  All were in good spirits.  The group had some touring to do, then would get settled in at Our Lady of Guadalupe Benedictine Monastery.  After Mass tomorrow morning the group begins their first day of work.

2:30 p.m. Haiti:  I heard from leader Brenda Keys '17 upon their arrival to Port au Prince, Haiti.  It was 97 degrees out and the groups eyes were open to the beauty of Haiti.  They will travel now to Grand Goave, which could take 2-4 hours of travel.  The conditions of the roads can be unpredictable in Haiti.  They will call me again once they have arrived.  In addition to following the groups progress here, you may also consider following blog where our guide Melissa will provide regular updates.

3:30 p.m. Gulf Coast:  Leader Jimmy Leonard '15 called upon the groups arrival at their site in Biloxi, MS where they met their host for the week.  The group was appreciative of the warmer climate and getting changed into shorts before they headed off to their group orientation.  Tonight their host will cook them dinner and they will get to tour around Biloxi a little.  Tomorrow after Mass they begin their first day of work.

4:30 p.m. South Dakota:  After a slight delay in Colorado, leader Riley Duggan'15 called as our group met up in Rapid City with Ted, the Executive Director (or as he likes to call himself the 'Head Volunteer') of Re-Member, the organization on Pine Ridge Reservation with whom our group will be serving this week.  While they can't boast of the warm temperatures of our previous three trips noted above, this has not dampened their enthusiasm for the amazing week of education and service which lay ahead of them. They are waiting for Xavier University to join them and then they will all take the two-hour trek to Pine Ridge.  Tonight they have the privilege of attending a Pow Wow!  Stay tuned as the group updates us throughout their week.

4:30 Mississippi:  Leader Amy Sennott '15 called as the group landed safely in Memphis, TN.  They met up with Fr. Tim and Julie (the camp dog), their hosts for the week, and are ready for the 90-minute trek to Aberdeen, MS.

SBA Mississippi arrives in Memphis

SBA Mississippi arrives in Memphis

More updates to come as we near the late evening as our four other trips complete today's travel.  Stay tuned!

SBA 2015 Departure Updates

The 25th year of service trips have begun. All of our Spring Break trips are on the road or in the air, en-route to their destinations. Additional updates to come, as groups check in during their travels, or arrive at their host sites throughout the day.

2:00 a.m. Our Phoenix and Haiti trips met in campus ministry, along with a group of WBA drivers and myself to head to Logan Airport for their early morning departures.  Haiti completed the first leg of their trip and both groups are en-route to their final destination.

4:00 a.m. Our Gulf Coast and South Dakota trips met in campus ministry with Andy Fellows (Campus Minister) to board a bus to head to Logan Airport for their morning departures.  Both groups are en-route.

6:00 a.m. Our Mississippi trip met in campus ministry with Andy and more WBA leaders to head to Logan Airport for their morning departure.  They have boarded their flights and are en-route.

7:00 a.m. Our Education trip hit the road for a 12-hour journey.  This is the first leg of their trip.  They will stay in a hotel tonight and finish their trip to David, KY on Sunday!

8:30 a.m. Our Maryland trip was ready and eager to hit the road for their 10-hour journey to the Benedictine School.  A beautiful day for a drive!

9:00 a.m. Last, but certainly not least, our trip to Philly loaded their vehicles and headed out on their eight-hour journey to St. Francis Inn.

Please stay tuned to this blog for updates on trip arrivals late this afternoon!

Sending Forth Our SBA Participants

The Service & Solidarity Missions program, now in its 25th year, provides its participants not only with the opportunity to serve others but also with an experience that further develops lessons learned in the classroom. Throughout their week of service, prayer, and reflection students step beyond their comfort zone and ask themselves meaningful questions about who they want to be in the world.

SBA Send Off Mass 2015The Spring Break Alternative participants will be starting the spring off right, heading out it just a few short days for SBA 2015! This year, 98 Spring Break participants will journey throughout the United States and internationally to places such as David, Kentucky (Education); the Gulf Coast of Mississippi; Ridgley, Maryland; Aberdeen, Mississippi; Phoenix, Arizona; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pine Ridge, South Dakota; and Grand Goave, Haiti. Trips will begin leaving as early as 2:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Thursday evening, February 27th the Spring Break Alternative participants, family and friends gathered for the annual SBA send-off Mass.

For the 25th year students, leaders, campus ministers, family, friends, and fellow Anselmians gathered in prayer, to share the Eucharist in preparations for their service trips. Abbot Matthew, O.S.B. (participating in our Haiti trip this year) reflected on vision with which these participants prepare to engage in this service, focusing on serving along our brothers and sisters in Christ open to the many lessons we will learn from those we encounter.

Then he Blessed the SBA crosses, prayer cards, and candles; and the leaders distributed these to each participant as they were called by name. Vivian Fitzgerald '14, Campus Ministry's AmeriCorps/Vista and past Service and Solidarity Leader, shared with our participants some reflections and a challenge to be open to the many 'strangers' each participant would be blessed to meet this coming week.

It was a wonderful sending forth, as we reflected on our 25 years of service. We as campus ministers are privileged to work with these students and this program, truly engaging in our Catholic and Benedictine identity as for provide transformative experiences for these students.

I ask for your prayers for these participants, for the work they will be doing, the communities for which they will be serving, and the personal challenges each participant will face.

For updates on trip departures and arrivals check-in here!