We desire students to experience the service of faith and the promotion of justice through the pillars of spirituality, education, service, community and social justice. Through Immersion the Walsh Jesuit students enter into communities for faith formation and educational preparation, to be able to experience the realities of others' poverty, and return to Walsh Jesuit with excitement and passion in continuing relationships with those on the margins of society.
The Immersion experience challenges one to develop ways to share their stories while wrestling with questions about privlege, race, and social justice.
This past summer Walsh Jesuit sent out 90 Walsh Jesuit Community members to live and work with people on the margins of society. Our students, faculty, and staff devoted their time in preparing to serve others in Louisville, Kentucky; Bethlehem Farm in West Virginia; Immokalee, Florida; Pine Ridge, South Dakota; Duran, Ecuador; Managua, Nicaragua; and Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Immersion Experience applications will be available near the middle of October each year. If placed on an immersion trip, each student will participate in several formation sessions throughout the remainder of the school year. These meetings allow student groups to get to know their companions, learn some information about their trip location and reflect and pray about specific social justice issues pertinent to their trip.
The Farm is a Catholic partner that helps students grown in community, prayer, service and simplicity. Students will serve in work groups for the week where they will do some rehab type of work, gardening/landscaping or an array of other projects needed by the community. They also live in community with each other and other visitors to the farm where they cook for each other, pray together and grow deeper in community.
We partner with local organizations to bring to life the realities of some of our community members close to our own homes. This opportunity offers students a chance to see urban poverty and its impact on those who experience poverty. The focus of this trip is inner-city poverty and access to food, education and opportunity. This has traditionally be designated for students who have already experienced an immersion experience at Walsh Jesuit High School.
We partner with Crossroads Ministry in Louisville as they lead us through a service retreat. This experience uses outward service to the poor and marginalized in Louisville as a way to look inward and reflect on what the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching and how they exist in our world.
“My home” is the meaning of Immokalee—and it is home to people of many different backgrounds. Immokalee is made up of about one third of each of the three demographics: Hattian, Hispanic & American, which makes it a cultural immersion experience. Students spend time learning in this culture, volunteering throughout the week at various social service center sites as well as listening to local speakers to learn about the realities of migrant farmworkers.
A trip to “The Res” is a cultural immersion that also deals with a number of deeper social justice issues. We partner with the organization Re-Member who plan the entire week of service, exploration, speakers and much more to learn about the realities of living on the reservation, which is situated in the poorest county in all of America. Students help with their bed ministry program, skirt trailers and build outhouses for community members.
Our students travel to Ecuador through a program called Rostro de Cristo which means, “Face of Christ.” Through their cultural immersion experience, they have a chance to experience what it means to bewith people in an intense way. This trip does not require a great deal of labor intensive work; instead it is a chance to grow in one’s understanding of themselves, God and the world through daily interaction and experiences of a radically different culture.
International Samaritan guides our students on this service experience where they spend time working hand and hand with the people they are serving. There are typically building projects or some other task that the whole group will work on together during their time on the trip. Students will also learn some of the history of this location and recognize how to bring their experiences and life lessons back to our Walsh Jesuit community.
We partner with the Center for Global Education who takes our students on a cultural immersion. This experience promotes personal growth by cultivating an understanding of the complexity and richness of the larger world. They do this by getting to know families in the community, working at a farming cooperative and understanding the realities of fair trade initiatives.
On my first immersion experience to Bethlehem Farm, I found myself wanting to leave after the first twenty-four hours. I found myself really second guessing whether I should be there or not.
I finally realized that this is a once in a lifetime experience, and I need to take advantage of it. By my second morning of waking up on the farm, I found myself appreciating and loving the smell and the wonderful view I woke up to. Bethlehem Farm is a farm on top of a hill surrounded by other hills in the Appalachian Mountains. Every morning I would wake up with the sight of fog and a gorgeous sunrise. Besides the beautiful view I woke up to, I was able to help the surrounding communities and families around Bethlehem Farm; I worked on two roofs and met incredible people. On the first roof I worked on, I met the homeowner whose name is Susan. Susan has the biggest smile and most positive attitude. I was able to talk to her when my group first arrived, and she shared some of her story with me. She told me how the house she was living in was her mother's, and how her mother's last wish was for Susan to live in her home. Through meeting Susan, I could find God. She showed me how God is genuine and kind. She showed me how God works through activities I take part in. After my Bethlehem Farm immersion, I felt more comfortable talking to God and reflecting on my days. My immersion experience at Bethlehem Farm opened my eyes to how being open to new experiences is helpful in learning more about God and others. - Pamela Lewis '17
". . . my group and I really focused on meeting people that lived in the Ohio City area. We ate at St. Herman's for lunch and dinner, volunteered at St. Malachi's back door kitchen, and at Catholic Worker. St. Herman's is a food shelter that feeds those who need breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
My chaperones wanted us to really immerse ourselves into our community and had us eat and interact with the homeless. For me, it was challenging at first because I had to go out of my comfort zone and talk to people I normally would not. I think this immersion experience really challenged me in my social relationships, but also helped me to grow in my social relations in a positive way. I am now more open to meeting new people and interacting with people I normally would not. I was able to find God and strengthen my relationship with him when I met Kelly at St. Herman's. Kelly showed me how God works in mysterious ways. She told me how she travelled up to Cleveland from North Carolina. Kelly shared with me her past, and how she was addicted to heroin after getting into a car accident. She moved to Cleveland in order to get a fresh start. Kelly showed me how God has a plan for everyone that is bigger and better than any one of us can imagine. - Pamela Lewis '17