This past weekend, we had our 6th Annual Father-Daughter Mission Trip to New Orleans. This year, the group had 37 missionaries with Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, Amelia Hoover and myself. It was a great experience of service, charity and joy for all the participants. As in the past years, our focus was on the St. Michael Special School, a catholic school for children with special needs, most of them with down syndrome or autism. We spent time with the children and the staff of the school, listened to the testimonies of some of the parents, and helped in some projects of the school.
In addition to the St. Michael Special School, we dedicated our time to visiting the homeless on the streets with the dads and their daughters and brought them bags with food prepared by the girls. We visited two soup kitchens in the city and helped to serve the food.
Each year, we try to add a new element to the mission. This year, we were able to listen to the testimony of a young man invited by Amelia’s parents while having breakfast with the group. This young man, Andrew, received a life sentence in prison when he was still young. He started going to Mass in prison and listening to the parable of the unforgiving servant, he had a profound experience of God’s mercy. He realized Christ had given him a second opportunity, started studying and working hard while in prison, got a degree and because of his good behavior, his sentence was commuted. Now he gives motivational talks in the high schools of the area.
Overall, it was a great missionary experience, the dads got to spend some quality time with their daughters, putting their love for Christ into practice and transmitting to them the great gift of faith.