The Mission of Ministry: Faith trips offered to students give memorable experiences

Maria Nguyen, Staff Writer


Tens of thousands of people packed onto the street in the bitter cold. A blur of voices talking, singing, praying and chanting, with the crowd slowly moving as one. Signs everywhere in the flood of people, and among them, a tiny Miege flag raised above a huddle of 30 students.
The National March for Life, an annual pro-life gathering in Washington, D.C., takes place on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade. It also serves as a mission trip opportunity for Miege students, although it has not been offered for the past two years because of COVID-19.
“Just looking around, the numbers were not as big as usual,” campus minister Bill Creach said. “However, it was still a good turnout and just the fact that we’re coming back to it was good.”
Despite the trip cancellations from the past two years, this mission trip had still been a Miege tradition for at least 20 years. Along with the West Virginia trip, the March was one of the largest opportunities for service offered, especially because of the additional traveling. This year, a group of 30 students and four chaperones traveled to the city for the event.
“The most memorable part for me was at the end of each day getting together with the group and hearing how they were impacted by the March,” one of the chaperones, theology teacher Alicia Baehr, said. “I loved hearing how much the students took away from the March and what they were thinking.”
Along with Baehr, theology teacher Ross Dessert, development associate Katie Jo Kirk and chaplain Father Anthony Mersmann traveled as chaperones to D.C. For Baehr, it was her 12th time attending the March.
“It’s amazing seeing the sheer number of people that are there and realizing that this is a cause that is on the hearts of students all across the nation, and not just in Kansas City,” Baehr said. “It’s a nationwide thing, and it’s good to know that we’re not alone in supporting life.”
The revival of the trip provided many students the opportunity to go on a mission trip with Miege. For some students like senior Jenna Dorsett, the trip was special in more ways than one.
“I have been wanting to be a part of the March since eighth grade, and finally getting to go as a senior was so special to me so I could cherish it even more,” Dorsett said. “I’m also grateful that I got to go with other students and teachers from Miege and share that experience with so many amazing people.”
With the pandemic canceling the two mission trips the past two years, students like Dorsett took the opportunity to attend either trip. According to Creach and campus ministry assistant Nancy Miller, who is a veteran chaperone for the West Virginia mission trip, both are similarly impactful for students. However, West Virginia is a little different compared to the March.
“The easiest I can describe it is ‘faith in action,’” Miller said. “The kids literally build, not just construction, but also a relationship with the family that we’re working with. We encourage them to do that, and at the end of the day, we do just a small reflection with everyone.”
For the past few months, openings for this mission trip have been available to students and those who attend over spring break will be doing more than 50 service hours. Additionally, the faith-filled trip gives students the opportunity for spiritual growth in their work and new physical experiences.
“One of my favorite things about West Virginia on top of all this stuff is that the kids get to see a finished product,” Creach said. “That is huge because they see what they did, it’s better for the family, and it’s an awesome practical accomplishment.”
Some students, like junior Allison Quinn, attended the March and plan to participate in the West Virginia trip also.
“I want to go on the March for Life and West Virginia trips because I want to branch out and immerse myself in new opportunities,” Quinn said. “I’m also excited to go on a road trip with my friends.”
According to Creach, involvement in these trips is a powerful experience and helps students get involved in a different type of service that requires more commitment, but with results that are worth it.
“It’s amazing with the kids making connections with the families and then coming back,” Creach said. “I haven’t had a single person go and come back having regretted it.”
These types of experiences have had a lasting impact on Quinn as a Miege student, and the traveling aspect of these trips also provided a fresh perspective and outlook on life in different parts of the country.
“In West Virginia, I hope I can challenge my skills and find a deeper connection with God,” Quinn said. “I think this trip will impact me in a way I can’t even describe.”