On Tuesday of Holy Week two vans full of students, accompanied by two faculty leaders, departed Archbishop Mitty High School and headed for one of the most vibrant, yet socio-economically disadvantaged, parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Dolores Mission Church and School are located in “the Flats” east of downtown Los Angeles, just blocks from two of the largest housing projects west of the Mississippi, in a neighborhood infamous for violent gang-activity that reached its peak during the 1980’s. Jesuit-led since 1987, Dolores Mission Parish has risen to the call and the needs of its community by creating outreach programs, offering support for the homeless and maintaining a school for students in kindergarten through eight grade.
While on this immersion trip, students stayed at Dolores Mission School and offered their time and talents in a variety of ways: they spent time with students in classrooms, set-up and ran an Easter Egg hunt for the after school program, visited Homeboy Industries to hear from former gang members who have turned their lives around with the help of this amazing organization, prepare several meals for the men and women of Guadalupe Homeless Project–and sit down to dine with them to get to know who they are beyond their homeless status. During this trip Archbishop Mitty students also assisted in Holy Thursday Mass and the washing of the feet, participate in a procession through the neighborhood to the Adoration, and on Holy Friday, took part in a neighborhood-wide event for the Stations of the Cross. Other community activities included visits to local museums and historical sites as well as meeting to talk with members of the community about their experiences living and raising a family in a severely impoverished, primarily immigrant, community.
Students had the opportunity to consider how the circumstances arise that a neighborhood could be so poverty stricken, how people might be drawn to gangs, how a community overcomes such obstacles, and how people continue to worship and have faith, despite these life-changing (and at times life-threatening) challenges.
As a Catholic high-school committed to community, to justice, to the positive understanding of personhood, to deepening our faith, to service, and to creating leaders who embody these values and live them in word and actions, Archbishop Mitty continues to offer these immersion trips so our students will see how each of us has an impact on our greater community.
The Mission Dolores immersion trip is one of several opportunities Archbishop Mitty students have to learn first-hand the plight of the marginalized in our society and throughout the world. It is through these experiences that our students, and later graduates, develop a more global awareness of the world, and a renewed commitment to world for justice and peace. For more information on the Archbishop Mitty Service Immersion Program visit the school’s website at www.mitty.com/campus-ministry/immersion-programs.