Delbarton Memories #4


CJ Gasser, Editor-in-Chief

During the summer prior to my junior year, I had the opportunity to attend the Delbarton BEADS (Benedictine East Africa Delbarton School) trip to Tanzania, Africa. This service opportunity to the Hanga Benedictine Abbey in Songea afforded me total immersion into an African Catholic culture. I had already experienced four years with the Benedictine monks at St. Mary’s Abbey, but I was awestruck seeing the principles of St. Benedict lived out in a culture so different from my own. The most striking thing was the demonstration of love and care among members of the community for one another, without regard for whether someone “deserved” love and care. For instance, Mary, a young Songean woman with Down’s Syndrome, was considered equal to everyone else in her village.

Mr. Theroux emphasized that her presence was “integral” for our understanding that all are welcome in their culture. One morning I decided to go outside and enjoy the cool morning air. There I noticed Mary as she lay on the grass with a little loaf of bread. Before eating, she made a slow sign of the cross as she looked up to heaven. Her simple act of faith and gratitude moved me deeply. Mary knew she was loved by all, and, most importantly, by God.

Since returning from Tanzania, I have been determined  to always treat others the way the Tanzanian village treated Mary. This goal of mine has allowed me to encounter the palpable presence of God and embrace a genuine joy for life. A remark in the 2018 Georgetown Baccalaureate Mass made by Father Mark Bosco reminded me of my experience in Tanzania; he said, “Christ’s face is under construction.  In essence, I believe this means we should always look for the face of Christ in all people; Christ is especially present in our brokenness and those enduring hardship.”

I am deeply thankful to have had the opportunity to go on a trip like BEADS and I look forward to doing something similar in my future endeavors.