New Endeavors in Education

Christy Snoke first fell in love with Belize when she visited our SOLT mission in Benque Viejo del Carmen as a chaperone with St. Michael’s Parish Youth Group from Findlay, Ohio, 8 years ago. She always knew that one day she would return to Belize to do something important. Now she lives in Belize City working with SOLT at Divine Mercy Parish in starting Mother of Mercy Montessori. Below is an interview with Christy about her experience in helping start Mother of Mercy Montessori.

How many children attend Mother of Mercy?

Currently we have 12 children enrolled in our program.

When did the program open?

Mother of Mercy is licensed as a daycare. I tell everyone, I run a Montessori daycare or school in the same fashion- Montessori style.  Our opening Mass and day was September 12, 2017.

Why did you start the program?

There were several reasons we started the program.  There is a greater history in the Divine Mercy parish than I know of, but there has been a plan for an early childhood center at Divine Mercy for many years now.  The property and building have been there, prayer warriors praying as God lined up the time and individuals necessary to make it a reality.

There has been a desire to have an authentically Catholic early childhood development program that can build a “Civilization of Love” within the Belizean culture.

In a providential meeting with a SOLT sister in Benque Viejo del Carmen in June 2010, right before I started my Montessori journey, we discussed her vision for Montessori and the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in Belize.  From that moment forward, I knew that one day God would align people to start a program.

How did you start the center?

In November of 2016, parishioners of Divine Mercy and I gathered to discuss Montessori and how it could enhance and build upon the beautiful Belizean culture.  Several talented Belizeans pulled together their gifts and skills to gather the necessary tools to begin the program.  Within in a short few months, we had applications submitted for the program, materials purchased, caregivers lined up, generous sponsors and some interested families.  By the beginning of March 2017, we were on our way!

Do any volunteers assist with the program?

We have volunteers assisting with the program.  Sr. Stella Maris is one of our lovely caregivers. Ms. Therese is a retired preschool teacher who contributes beautifully to the cultural element of the program.  We now have Janine Chicas, a dear parent, as the lead caregiver.  Martita, another parent, has assisted with cleaning, making aprons, etc.  All of the families are required to volunteer each year.  We also had St. John’s Junior College education department come for a day to volunteer their time building a sandbox, playing with the children and other tasks around our center.  We’ve had Guiselle and Nina, high school students volunteer on their holiday break.  Indira Chavarria assisted in purchasing snack and drinking water on a weekly basis

We have many volunteers assisting with the program, including SOLT members and the laity. Our volunteers are retired teachers, parents, and friends from all walks of life who clean, make aprons, provide food, and create cultural elements for our classroom. All of the families are required to volunteer each year.  We also had St. John’s Junior College education department come for a day to volunteer their time building a sandbox, playing with the children and other tasks around our center.

Have you seen any difference in the community or in the children already?

On a relational level, we have built some great relationships with our families.  I’m so happy to be able to walk alongside them as they raise up the next generation of adults.  We’ve been able to provide meals for a few children who otherwise may not be able to eat regularly.  Children come eagerly to our community and leave joyfully.  Their parents say they wished they had had this program sooner for their children.  Their children are more willing to be independent and help at home and with the family.

More and more people are interested in our program.  We value relationship, authenticity, provide opportunities for children to engage in a whole person developmental program.  People want to know why we are so different from other programs and are excited to invest in a system that can bring real change in their community.

Why is the program Montessori?

Montessori creates an environment that focuses on the individual needs of the child within the greater context of society.  We focus on individuals, but the whole of those individuals and the whole of the community.  We look upon the child as a gift, regarded with the upmost dignity.  We allow them to explore in a safe microcosm of the larger society, to use their curiosity to learn about the world they live in. We value independence, spontaneous learning, the development of freedom and discipline, respect, culture, etc.

The children learn to manipulate concepts concretely in order to move to thinking more abstractly.  They use their hands to train their minds.  They become good at doing things, develop a deep desire and love for learning, find intrinsic value in their personal efforts that aren’t based off of external rewards and punishments.  Children become contributing members of society through purpose-filled work.

What are the children like?

The children a fun, quirky, have very different personalities from one another, loving, joyful, compassionate, enjoy purposeful work, lovers of beauty, etc. Trust had to be established before there could be mutual respect/respect for the caregivers. They are tender and compassionate.  They are relational. They love to say hi to Jesus, their Good Shepherd.

Order and routine, and the ability to repeat and master activities are important for children to learn and grow.  These children find great joy in being able to repeat and master the work they encounter everyday at Montessori. They are like any other children.  We all have universal human tendencies, regardless if we are from Asia or North America.  

Are you looking for volunteers at Mother of Mercy Montessori?

I think that could be great if volunteers came to be assistants. Ideally, it is better to have someone stick around for longer in order to create stability (like volunteers in Benque who decide to stay for an additional year or two). However, we would need to discuss with Fr. Scott and the board and then determine housing, food, etc. so the volunteer(s) can have a place to live close to the church so they can be a part of the community. Belize City is entirely different than Benque. It’s beautiful but our volunteer program is not yet as developed for volunteering long term.

A New Missionary Adventure

I was first bit by the travel bug the summer between fourth and fifth grade when I tagged along with my Irish grandmother for a family wedding in the English countryside. After the nuptials, which included top hats and penguin coats, we paid a visit to my uncle who was stationed with his family in Frankfurt, Germany, serving in the army. My life was never the same after that. I had been given an insatiable desire to see the world. As a teenager I would experience first hand the far off cultures of Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, and Switzerland. Admittedly, the motivation to travel wasn’t always holy, fueled mostly by a desire to find fortune and happiness.

However, my twenties unearthed a powerful reversion back to the Church, and my zeal for travel, in this new light, revealed a missionary heart. I knew God had put the desire for travel in me, and now He would use it for His glory!

Within a few years of that realization, I was commissioned. My fiancé (God built Him with a missionary heart, too!) and I had an incredible opportunity to move permanently to Belize with a non-profit organization giving talks all over the country on St. John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body. When we learned of this opportunity, I felt no reservation, and we both knew it was a call.

There wasn’t much time to prepare ourselves, as my fiancé was able to fly down right away and I was completing my last semester of college. We miraculously cleaned out his apartment within a week, thanks to some of our SOLT sisters who dropped by and picked up a few items. He took just about everything he owned and compressed it into three large suitcases and a plastic storage bin.

Because our move was an indefinite one, my packing did require more than someone who committed themselves for a year or two. I was shocked at how many things I was able to part with, give away, or found altogether unnecessary. Initially, I had the idea that I could bring everything I owned with me, but once I packed the first suitcase I realized the error of my ways. I will admit that the attachment I felt to all my holy books was the most difficult one. I ended up bringing five: my bible, True Devotion to Mary, The Four Cardinal Virtues, Life of Christ, and Love and Responsibility. Turns out that’s all I needed for now.

Finally, I will say that the “until I see you again” partings from my family were tearful and sentimental, but they were also joyful and profound! Our Blessed Mother continually walked with me, giving me every grace to begin this journey, which so far has been the best one of my life.

Submitted by Sarah Gomez from Corpus Christi, Texas

SOLT Goes to SLS!

From January 2nd – January 6th, around 8,000 young adults gathered in the McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago to attend the Student Leadership Summit (SLS) hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). College-aged students all from different schools throughout the country took time away from their Christmas break to have a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ and to learn how to bring their confreres at their perspective colleges and universities to that same type of encounter. The week is filled with beautiful liturgies, a powerful extended time of Eucharistic Adoration, inspiriting talks, and specified workshops related to growing deeper in prayer and techniques in evangelization.

Conference keynote speakers included Bishop Robert Barron, Sr. Bethany Madonna, SV, Jim Caviezel (the actor who played Jesus in Passion of the Christ), Dr. Ted Sri, Sarah Swafford, Fr. Mike Schmitz (a former volunteer at our SOLT mission in Belize), and Curtis Martin (the founder of FOCUS). It was so encouraging to see a thousand young adults during their free time spend an hour in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. To see so many college students who were evangelized and who desired to be more effective evangelizers themselves was extremely edifying. SLS is a microcosm of the growing and alive Church in the United States. It is the New Evangelization at work, and it is working! The “who’s who” in evangelization and religious orders were there to recruit young men and women enthusiastic for their faith to join in their mission in the Church.

SOLT sponsored a booth in order to promote volunteer opportunities at our missions in Belize, Mexico, and North Dakota as well as our two-week mission trip to Belize in May. Throughout the week, our SOLT team of Sr. Mary Elizabeth, Sr. Laudem Gloriae, Fr. Mark Wendling, Brenton and Lucía Seymour, and I talked to hundreds of young adults who expressed varying degrees of interest at the prospect of volunteering after graduation at one of our missions or joining our mission trip this summer. Some of our past volunteers in Belize and some of our current volunteers, SOLT Missionary Teachers, in Belize joined us at our booth not only to catch up and hang out with SOLT, but out of their own enthusiasm they also joined us in encouraging others to volunteer at our missions. For me, it was a beautiful time of reconnecting with old friends who are now at work in leadership in various ways in the Church. Some are now priests and sisters and deacons and seminarians, some are in charge of youth groups and campus ministry, some are in different niches and organizations of evangelization.

SLS was an important time of promoting SOLT, so that our name and our faces are recognizable as forces in the New Evangelization and as a viable option for advancing the mission of the Church. More information about our mission trip to Belize in May can be found at

Br. Dave Brokke, SOLT 

REVIVE: Encountering God’s Love

         In the months of September and October, our SOLT parishes in Phoenix, Camp Verde, Arizona and St. Joseph, Corpus Christi, Texas, hosted an 8-week series called Revive: Encountering God’s LoveRevive is the first step in a three step ministry known as Becoming Missionary Disciples which is part of SOLT’s Immaculate Conception Project, part of a generous grant designed to bring about the New Evangelization in the United States through a variety of avenues. The other steps of Becoming Missionary Disciples include Disciple, a 10-week course as a follow-up to Revive, and Mission, the third step, which is primarily small and medium sized discipleship groups that meet in homes over a longer period of time. Fr. Eduardo Montemayor describes the purpose of Revive is “to evangelize by providing a shallow entry point for Catholics with [the] goal of leading people to faith and conversion and worship.” The course usually includes talks primarily given by SOLT priests, sisters, and other parish leaders over dinners as participants meet in small groups with certain points of questions and discussion.

Most Holy Trinity Parish had two simultaneous courses of Revive running in both English and Spanish. Revive in English had around 80 people at Most Holy Trinity complete the course, 60 of whom attended the two-day retreat, along with a team of 36 volunteers. Revive in Spanish had around 250 people attend the course with a team of 74 volunteers. Fr. Eduardo has said that Revive, overall, was “excellent. It has created a community of participants full of enthusiasm and renewed faith. Many have gone on to volunteer in their areas of giftedness.” One of the participants of Revive said that “it renewed my interest in exploring my faith. I liked the targeted talks aimed at explaining specific aspects of our faith. The talks at the table offered different experiences of our faith.” Another commented on the strength that the SOLT Ecclesial Team brought with the different vocations being represented along with the help of other volunteers, “The joy and enthusiasm exhibited by Father, Sister, and my table leader was contagious. Their love and devotion to Jesus has been renewing and energizing.”

            The team is currently filming each of the talks of the program to be able to offer it to a larger audience. The Immaculate Conception Project also includes the Liturgy Prep video series, found on, as well as the beautiful Marian Prayer Garden currently under construction in Corpus Christi, Texas.

New Convent Foundation: Missionaries in the Motor City

Detroit: a city whose name connotes crime, a failing infrastructure, and desperation. But an area is never really hopeless! This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Detroit uprising, where, during five days of violence, thousands of buildings burned and more than 40 people lost their lives in racial and economic uprisings all over the city. While trying to move past the causes and effects of these social difficulties, the people of Detroit have been turning to God more dynamically. Archbishop Vigneron wrote a beautiful pastoral letter this summer entitled “Unleash the Gospel” and in November, the Archdiocese will celebrate the beatification of Venerable Solanus Casey OFM. Both events offer beacons of hope and renewal for the city and church!

The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity was founded to serve in areas of deepest apostolic need, and so six years ago, SOLT moved into Detroit to serve at the parish of Most Holy Redeemer (MHR), a huge bilingual community in the Mexicantown district. This mission truly is a gem among many parish gems in Detroit. Established in 1880 by the Redemptorist community, MHR is a huge vibrant parish with five Sunday Masses, an elementary school, an adoration chapel, and many thriving parish ministries. Our SOLT seminarians are also in residence at the parish, studying at the nearby Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

This month of August, three of our SOLT Sisters joined the team in Detroit, completing the three-fold aspect of priests, sisters, and laity serving here. Sr. Kateri Marie, Sr. Mary Solanus Casey, and newly-professed, Sr. Mary Agnus Dei will be serving in the parish and school in different capacities. A former doctor’s office across the street from the church was bought and is currently being renovated as the “new” convent. The excitement is high for this new transition in Detroit! Sr. Kateri Marie said, “The parish seems to be very excited about SOLT Sisters coming to the mission! Even though there are other communities of sisters in the area, the parishioners are excited for us to be present.” She also stated, “I think the witness of fidelity to Jesus and His Church is going to be very important for SOLT Sisters to manifest at this mission.” Detroit definitely needs, and will be receiving, some people who believe in them and are willing to stay among them in the struggle. “For hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Rom. 8:24).”

We thank the Most Holy Trinity for sending our sisters to serve in this area of the peripheries, and we ask our Mother Mary to accompany our sisters in mission. To learn more about this SOLT mission, please visit the website

If you would consider helping the SOLT Sisters repair and furnish this new convent, your contribution would be greatly appreciated! Contributions may be made by clicking ‘donate’ at with the memo: “New Convent in Detroit.” Most importantly, please keep us in your prayers as we serve God’s people.       Ave Maria!

Fr. John McHugh, SOLT

Please see the links below for coverage of Fr. John McHugh’s funeral Masses in Robstown, Texas, as well as Mora, New Mexico. Fr. John died on July 31, 2017 and was buried in Holman, New Mexico, next to SOLT Founder, Fr. James Flanagan.

Fr. John Slide Show Link:
Fr. John Vigil (August 3, 2017 in Robstown, Texas):
Fr. John Funeral Homily (August 4, 2017 in Robstown):
Fr. John Funeral Homily (August 7, 2017 in Mora, New Mexico):
Fr. John Funeral Words (ESPAÑOL-New Mexico):

Tribute to Br. Michael Brady, SOLT

When I first met Br. Michael he was doing some work in the Bishop’s office. I was a SOLT lay member and Fr. Flanagan’s chauffeur for the summer. Fr. Jim and I were sitting at an old, rustic, dining room table chatting with Bishop Jerome Hastrich… the Ordinary of the missionary Diocese of Gallup, NM. Little did I know that this cheerful brother was the Bishop’s right-hand-man!

Upon Bishop Hastrich’s death, for some strange reason, the new bishop decided to canonically suppress Br. Michael’s community. Fr. Flanagan rescued Br. Michael, bringing him into SOLT and giving him, not only a new life… but a new name as well; Br. Michael of The Precious Blood.

What many people in SOLT never knew about this truly humble brother was that he himself was a co-founder of a Religious Congregation… The Brothers of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Bishop Hastrich was concerned about his priests living alone in the desert and he decided to establish a community of Brothers who could be companions and helpers for his priests. Br. Michael was the first to respond to the Bishop’s advertisement announcing the foundation of the new community.

When Brother met with Bishop Hastrich in Penn Station, NYC, he asked the holy Bishop, “How many members are there in the new community?” Bishop Hastrich responded, “One… YOU!” Brother Michael went on to found the community with Bishop Hastrich and became the first Superior General and the first Novice Master of The Brothers of Our Lady of Guadalupe (a Religious Congregation with Vows).

Most people with this kind of stellar resume, coming into a new community (SOLT), would make sure that everyone knew about their impressive background. But that was not the good brother’s way. His was the way of humility… Our Lady’s way! I had a number of mission assignments with Brother and not once, in conversations with me or with others, did he exploit this “treasure trove” of credentials.

Br. Michael was so well formed as a religious that, due to the depth of his interior life, he was practically “invisible”… or to put it another way; he was simple and transparent… and this is what made him such a unique and wonderful brother. Very often, due to his appearance, Brother was completely misunderstood and perceived as being something he certainly was not! Because he was legally blind, he walked slowly and very deliberately. And because of his bleeding disorder, he held his head up high. Put these 2 traits together and what do you have? A “Primadonna”! Throw in an “upside-down-smile”, the result of a mini-stroke, and what do you get… a “sour-puss” Primadonna! But the minute you engaged him, you would immediately discover that he was very cheerful, humble, and supremely friendly.

Br. Michael’s sufferings were never ending… and this is what made him the truly special brother that he was. In 3rd world mission, he was incomparable. He would live anywhere, sleep on any sort of a bed, eat anything put in front of him, and travel great distances without a single word of complaint. In friendship, he was the same Br. Michael with the humblest campesino or the wealthiest benefactor. His deep understanding of the importance of balance and common sense in religious life was something all of us in SOLT can learn from (I know that I am still learning from his example!). Br. Michael was one of Our Lady’s gifts to her society… and our wise and discerning Founder saw that right from the start.

Submitted by Fr. Larry Tucker, SOLT

Obituary for Fr. John Stevens McHugh

Father John S. McHugh passed into eternal life on Monday, July 31, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was 93 years old. Fr. John was born on August 9, 1923 in Tulsa, Oklahoma to James McHugh and Laura Lee (Stevens) McHugh. Father was preceded in passing by his parents and only sister, Mary Lee (McHugh) Braune.

Baptized on August 23, 1923 at Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa, he received his First Holy Communion and Confirmation at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Fr. John attended grammar school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Oklahoma City and secondary school at St. Gregory the Great in Shawnee, Oklahoma, graduating in 1941. After a year of study at the University of Oklahoma, he enlisted in the US Air Force and was stationed in England during World War II. He was a bombardier on a lead crew in the Air Force and flew in 18 combat missions until his plane was shot down over Germany in 1945. One of only two men surviving the crash, he remained a POW in Germany until the war ended. Upon returning home, he continued his studies at St. Benedict’s College in Atchison, Kansas before entering seminary with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

On May 24, 1952, Father was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe. His first assignment as a priest was as Assistant Pastor at Cristo Rey parish in Santa Fe, NM. Later he was made Pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Holman, NM.

While serving as Pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Fr. John was introduced to Fr. James Flanagan, who had come to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as a step in the founding of a new religious congregation under the authority of Archbishop Byrne. On July 16, 1958, Fr. Flanagan founded the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) with Fr. John as the first priest member.

Fr. John would go on to serve for six years as Pastor at St. Gertrude the Great in Mora, NM and five years as Associate Pastor at St. Francis Seraph parish in Kansas City, Missouri.

Thirty years of Fr. John’s priesthood were spent in Belize, Central America, where he founded the first SOLT mission outside of the US, as Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize, and St. Martin de Porres parish in Melchor, Guatemala from 1969 to the late 1990s. Fr. John spent and consumed himself in these border towns during a time of great civil unrest in the region. He left a lasting mark not only in the lives and hearts of the people in Benque Viejo, Melchor and the surrounding areas, but also through the establishment of Mount Carmel High School in Benque Viejo, which began in 1991 as a “second-chance” school and now boasts an enrollment of over 400 students.

Fr. John returned to the US from Belize to serve as Regional Priest Servant for the American Region of SOLT for six years, followed by eight years at St. Gertrude’s once again.

Father spent the last five years of his earthly life in Corpus Christi, TX, where the SOLT Generalate is located. Through the fidelity of Fr. John and Fr. Flanagan, SOLT has grown from its humble beginnings in Holman, NM to having missions and apostolates both in the United States and throughout the world. Fr. John leaves a spiritual legacy of joy, courage, faithfulness and love of the Blessed Mother and the Church in the hearts of those who knew him.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rosary: St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Robstown, TX, 7 pm

Friday, August 4, 2017

Funeral Mass: St. Anthony’s in Robstown, 10 am

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Wake and Rosary: St. Gertrude the Great Catholic Church in Mora, NM, beginning at 5 pm

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rosary: St. Gertrude’s in Mora, 9am

Funeral Mass: St. Gertrude’s, 10 am; Burial to follow at the SOLT Sisters’ Convent in Holman, NM

Br. Michael Brady Returns to God

Brother Michael of the Precious Blood Brady was born in Westfield, New Jersey on June 21, 1935 to Henry and Florence Brady and was baptized on July 7, 1935 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and given the name of Henry Elliot Brady. He had one sister, Barbara Freiberg who predeceased him. He had a deep and abiding affection for the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, nuns who taught him in grade school and high school. Brother Michael entered religious life in 1978 as a Brother of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Gallup, New Mexico, under the direction of Bishop Jerome Hastrich. In 1998, Brother transferred to the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity and professed his final promises as a permanent Brother on the 8th of September, 2005.

Brother is survived by his two nephews, John and Allen Sanford and their spouses and his two great nephews, Michael and John Sanford.

Brother was a dedicated religious who loved Our Lady and the Eucharist. Throughout his years in SOLT he served in several missions and apostolates, most notably in Muzquiz and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Our Lady of Corpus Christi, the Lay Formation Center in Florida, Casa San Jose in Texas and Branchville, New Jersey. In addition, Brother Michael accompanied Fr. Larry Tucker on many mission appeals.

Brother Michael was known for his incredible memory, perceptive comments and an enjoyment of conversation. He was always genuine and sincere and will be missed by his fellow community members and many friends.

Hope in the Turtle Mountains

Seven weeks ago, I arrived in Belcourt, N.D. to St. Ann’s Church for their summer camp, not knowing what to expect. I had talked to three people who had been to Belcourt on mission trips or for the summer camp, and all of them loved their experiences. St. Ann’s is located at the heart of the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. When I told people I was going to Belcourt for part of the summer, I got mixed reactions. Some people were really excited for me, while others would say, “Why would you go to Belcourt? There’s nothing there.” I did not really know what to expect, but I expected that the Lord was going to do some big things.

I came to St. Ann’s primarily to be a counselor at their annual summer camp. The camp was divided into three age groups: grades 1-3, grades 4-6, and grades 7-9. Each camp lasted for two weeks. Counselors came in from all over the country, including Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Every camp day we would pray a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Without this prayer time, I don’t think we could have gotten through the summer and been able to work with the kids and each other the way they deserved. The first week I was here was a lot of get-to-know you and preparation, which was fun and good to do, but I really just wanted camp to start. The theme of the camps focused on the seven virtues, with each day focused on a different virtue through talks, skits, and small group discussions. Each camp day also finished with Mass with the kids. Camp also involved a lot of activities typically seen when the average person thinks of camps. This included large group games, canoeing, sports, arts and crafts, and science. It helped the kids to be exposed to Jesus and grow closer to Him while also having a fun time.

After reflecting on the summer, one virtue seemed to represent the general theme of the summer: Hope. Hope is “placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit…buoyed up by hope, we are preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity” (CCC 1817-1818). It is important to understand when discussing hope that it is a gift from God, and not something that comes from ourselves. Most obvious, I could see the gift of hope being bestowed upon the kids during camp, usually in the little moments. People who had no exposure to Jesus in the past were asking deep questions about Jesus’s life, resurrection, and how He is present and working today. Some of the most precious and profound moments were some the simplest ones. Some kids started hugging the priest after being blessed in the Communion line, while some would voluntarily lend their sweatshirts to other kids who were cold. These small acts of charity prompted by the Spirit were leading them to the happiness that flows from charity.

I also saw hope through the people of the community. The first week we were here we went to picnics at the houses of various families. This generosity continued throughout the duration of my time here, camping and spending time with different families around town. The St. Ann’s community, including parishioners and staff, is filled with a lot of hope in God and for Belcourt, even though there is significant darkness in the community. They are a people proud of their heritage and who they are, and are willing to put in the work to improve themselves and the people around them. The parishioners and staff are beams of light in a community with lots of darkness. But Belcourt is not much different than any other place in the world. There is darkness everywhere, and we are all called to be beams of light in the darkness.

One of my biggest takeaways from this summer is that the massive hope that I’ve experienced in the small town of Belcourt is a mere sliver of the hope that God wants to pour out upon the whole world. Jesus desires for us to be bursting with hope for Heaven and the great the great joy that comes from this. Leaving Belcourt will be a challenge as I have been pretty sheltered from the busyness and distractions of the world. But I am confident that God will give me the grace I need, and that He has big plans for me going forward, and big plans for each one of you reading this. I’ll finish with a quote from St. Pope John Paul II:

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal” (Address of the Holy Father John Paul II, Vigil of Prayer, World Youth Day, 19 August 2000).

Submitted by Patrick Finnegan. He  is studying Occupational Therapy, is from St. Paul, Minnesota.