It’s in the midst of a global pandemic and stay at home orders that I find myself working as a Campus Minister at St. Augustine High School, an all-boys school in San Diego. Despite the world being more connected than ever through revolutionary technology, people find themselves longing for deeper relationships and plagued by a sense of loneliness. The issue of loneliness is not a new one, but one that has been intensified during increased isolation from others and dependency on virtual forms of connecting. Our high school students particularly experience this reality as they long to be with their friends almost 24/7 it seems, but are limited by the current safety measures. In seeing my students starving for deeper relationships, the mission of the Augustinian Volunteers to build transformative relationships has taken on new meaning for me.
My work as a Campus Minister includes creating opportunities for students to become more connected to each other, God, and themselves. By facilitating retreats on campus, we foster relationships between students as they share their stories, experiences, and emotions. On a recent retreat, a student commented that he greatly appreciated receiving letters from his family and friends after a year filled with fear and discouragement. The reassurance from his loved ones was a welcomed reminder that he is loved by his entire community.
I have seen the transformative power of relationship in my own life after committing to living in intentional community. My community has given me the space to wrestle with questions about my faith, talk about the lows and highs of work, and celebrate alongside each other. I have learned that to make community work I have to consider the good of the community first rather than my own personal desires. A loving relationship always requires sacrifices both small and large, but I have found that there is freedom in true relationship where we are fully known.
I am better able to serve students because I know the value of true relationship in my own life. With the gift of presence, I seek to consistently support students and listen to their struggles. Through the planning of retreats, I can only create opportunities for students to grow in relationship with one another. The choice is ultimately up to them, but I am confident in the work we are doing at St. Augustine High School to build transformative relationships.
San Diego, CA 2020-2021