Nine Creighton Coeds: Ryan, Katie, Amal, Emily, Hannah, Kelsea, Lauren, Majo, and Michael
Sunshine, warm weather, the beach, relaxation. These may be the images of a spring break well-deserved by hardworking college students, those who have toiled in the classroom and in the library for months on end. Indeed, spring break finally arrived the first week in March, but for a group of nine Creighton students, we did not end up on the beach, nor did we encounter warm weather, but we did get to see sunshine, and lots of it!
Prior to our trip, we knew little about the Visitation Sisters, little about St. Jane, and little about St. Francis de Sales. Yet quickly we learned their mission in action, and throughout the week, what it meant to “Be who you are, and be that well.” – Michael Visenio
Twice every year, Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, organizes for its students service trips in both the fall and spring semesters, under the auspices of the Creighton Center for Service and Justice. Students are given the opportunity to go to one of 26 different sites — as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico, or as close as Omaha itself, in order to do service with various organizations and learn more about social justice issues in our community and abroad. For us nine Creighton students, we were given the opportunity to travel to chilly, yet sunny Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The nine of us ended up on the same trip together because we all expressed interests in a multicultural immersion trip that encompasses interfaith and multi-religious learning, education on poverty, experiences with homelessness, and direct service – all in one trip. Throughout the week, we learned about it all. We were excited to be in Minneapolis and to experience all the city had to offer. Yet one of the greatest experiences was meeting the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis, Brian Mogren of St. Jane House, and others in their circle.
Participating in a service project
Prior to our trip, we knew little about the Visitation Sisters, little about St. Jane, and little about St. Francis de Sales. Yet quickly we learned their mission in action, and throughout the week, what it meant to “Be who you are, and be that well.”
This quotation of St. Francis de Sales’ stayed in my mind throughout my time there, especially as we met the Visitation Sisters. North Minneapolis, a neighborhood where many would rather not settle down, was home to the Sisters. That itself amazed me, because they could be anywhere else in the world, but they chose to be there, striving against poverty or violence in the community, but also thriving with all the gifts the neighborhood has to offer. From the beginning, we learned the Sisters wanted to be an integral part of the community, from windsock time, to the various prayer groups throughout the week, to being open to guests who made their way to the Visitation Houses.
An inspiration: Vis Companion, Brian Mogren
Brian, owner of the St. Jane House, was the perfect example of being himself, and being himself well. To love one’s neighborhood so much as to offer one’s house in order to bring the community together takes a special calling in life, and the task seemed to fit Mr. Mogren perfectly. I can’t remember one story or one memory about a gathering or party at Brian’s warming and inviting house that he didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and his pictures prove that continually. Brian, through being director of the St. Jane House, performs a ministry that is nothing short of extraordinary.
One final thing: if you were thinking about applying for the Visitation Internship Program, do it. If you really want to know what your year with the Sisters will be like, just spend a single day with them (we attended Ash Wednesday mass with them, and even better, we had them over for karaoke) and you will see how amazing they are both in their ministry and as friends. You’ll enjoy spending time with them, spending time at the St. Jane house, and spending time with the North Minneapolis community, all of which will prove to be a rewarding experience. After all, you’re taking advice from a guy who wants to apply to be a VIP himself one day.
To see more photos from the Creighton Service Trip, click here.
Michael Visenio is currently a freshman undergraduate student at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, studying Biology and Psychology, in hopes of one day becoming a doctor, but also being able to take some time off to pursue ministry work. We are grateful to him, and to his fellow coeds for their journey to north Minneapolis to be among us as part of the Spring Break Service Trip, 2011. We await his VIP application for 2014!