bapchule bound 2005: virtues

The Bapchule Bound mission experience, unlike the University Catholic Center’s Mission Trip to Arteaga, Mexico, focuses virtually all efforts onto pastoral work with the community. The construction aspect of this trip used only three staff full-time with the occasional person helping out at night.
Upon much thought and prayer, the concept of virtues and their importance seemed to fit well with our expectations for the mission.

A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.

Above, as the Catechism (1803) introduces us to virtues, I feel that this explains my feelings towards the subject matter and the community of young people we were serving.
“…but to give the best of himself.”
I have only worked directly with the older kids in Bapchule, those in 7th grade and above. In the two short weeks over two years that I have spent with them, I am convinced that this line best explains the purpose of virtues in their lives. Each and every single one of them is an amazing, great individual. Some of them have had bad raps or found themselves involved with some unsavory things or whatnot; however, talk to them one-on-one or in a small group and you’ll quickly see how each of them are truly precious. Many, if not most or all, of these young people live in unbearable situations. If they themselves don’t, members of their family or their close friends do. I firmly believe that those who find themselves wrapped in on the wrong side of drugs or alcohol or sex or violence are not bad kids at all; most of them have been dealt a bad hand and are trying not to allow them let that bad hand limit them to not giving the best of him or her.

We focused on seven virtues over five days: the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues.

We gave each cardinal virtue a day and combined the theological virtues into a fun-filled Friday.
How much did we reach the kids with these virtues? Who knows. We had a “Skit Squad” do a great job with a different skit each day for each grade level (more or less) that gave everyone something concrete to connect the virtue with, we discussed Bible stories and saints that highlighted the virtue and we gave talks about each.
At the same time, my goal was not to provide catechetical instruction to the youth. If virtues are to enable us to let our best out and to help us show others what we’re really made of, being able to recite the Catechism’s description of each is not the goal.

What is the virtue, to use the word in a different way, of taking a week out of our lives and finding ourselves in Bapchule with these kids? Quite simply, it is to make a connection with them. It is just to be there with them. Sure, it’s about giving a talk on justice and helping them to see that we all have a calling of making things right in the world. Sure, it’s about giving a talk on temperance or faith or hope. Above that, it’s about being ourselves just while there. It’s about being examples of temerance and faith and hope ourselves.
We were there to preach the Gospel at all times, and when needed, we used words. Our actions had to reflect, above all else, the virtues we taught them. I think we did a good job of it.

As I type all of this, I can’t help but think how is that any different than what every day should be like? It’s not. We didn’t spend a week out in Bapchule to serve these “needy kids who need to hear from us about virtues”. We spent a week in Bapchule to serve kids who hopefully we helped by giving them an outside examples of virtue and to serve kids who gave us hope in tomorrow.





Leave a Reply