Faith in Action: St. Mary's DREAMS Journey

Faith in Action: St. Mary CSS DREAMS Journey
Posted on 04/04/2024
St. Mary CSS DREAMS students 2024

St. Mary's DREAMS team worked diligently, digging the foundation for Rafael's family's new home, mixing mortar, and carefully laying blocks. Amidst the physical labor, they also took moments to pause, pray, and reflect on their transformational experience in Los Corozos. These reflective moments deepened their understanding of the impact of their service and strengthened their resolve to continue serving others with compassion and dedication.

Eighteen students from St. Mary Catholic Secondary School's DREAMS program, accompanied by their chaperones including St. Mary CSS Chaplain Don Hall, Deacon Aidan, and his wife Anne from Peterborough, recently returned from a life-changing service trip to the Dominican Republic, where they dedicated their Spring Break to building a home for Rafael's family in the mountainous region. For these students, the journey was the culmination of years of anticipation, dating back to when they first learned about the DREAMS program in grade two. Finally, as high school students, they seized the opportunity to participate in this transformative experience, eager to make a difference in the lives of others.

Their time in the Dominican Republic was an eye-opening adventure, marked by hard work, camaraderie, and an appreciation for the simple joys and necessities of life. As they immersed themselves in the community, they came to cherish the things often overlooked or taken for granted back home. Without the constant distraction of social media, the students found themselves fully immersed in the present moment, cherishing every interaction and experience. In addition to playing Uno and other board games, they embraced the opportunity to play baseball with local teens under the warm Caribbean sun, fostering friendships that transcended language and cultural barriers. Some students found themselves picking up a hammer for the first time, while others were able to broaden and strengthen their abilities in the trades, discovering their passion for carpentry and construction. They also took the chance to learn Spanish phrases and try new foods, each moment an opportunity for personal growth and cultural exchange.

In addition to constructing Rafael's family home, the students embraced the chance to connect with the local community on a deeper level. From trying new foods to learning Spanish phrases, each moment was an opportunity for personal growth and cultural exchange. The experience of working together to build a home from scratch also left a lasting impact, with some students discovering their passion for carpentry and construction for the first time.

Nestled amid majestic mountains on all sides, Rafael's new home stands as a testament to the power of community and compassion. For three generations of Rafael's family—his son Deuri Encarnacion Minyetty, daughter-in-law Yohandra Minyetty, grandchildren Yadiel and Darismel, and Rafael himself—the prospect of a safe and sturdy dwelling brings excitement and gratitude.

For Ernestina Sepulveda, a DREAMS chaperone, the trip was a deeply meaningful experience. She reflects on the beauty of interactions within the group and the personal connections formed. For her, the DREAMS journey is a testament to the power of coming together to serve others and the profound blessings that come from acts of kindness and compassion.

Their return coincides with the upcoming 25th anniversary of the DREAMS program, a milestone that holds special significance for the students and their supporters. It is a moment to celebrate the program's profound impact, having touched countless lives over the years, and to raise funds and awareness for future life-changing experiences. This transformative program provides students with firsthand experience addressing the needs of communities in the global south, empowering them to make a real difference. Over the past 25 years, the program has transformed the lives of 61 families by actively engaging students in building homes in rural Dominican communities. Funds raised support construction materials and student travel expenses.

As the students return home with a renewed sense of purpose, their experiences in the Dominican Republic underscore the importance of faith in action, the cornerstone of Catholic education and a central tenet of our Catholic schools throughout the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board. Through their participation in the DREAMS program, these students exemplified Christian service, serving others as is at the heart of Catholic education. Their journey, guided by the spirit of service and compassion, reaffirms their commitment to making a positive difference in the world. In the words of 1 John 3:18, 'Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.' This scripture reminds us that genuine love is demonstrated not just through words, but through concrete actions and sincerity.

See link below for more information:

DREAMS 25th Anniversary

DREAMS students standing beside the build

DREAMS student stacking bricks for the buildDREAMS students holding cute baby DREAMS student holding cute babyDREAMS students working on the build