During the month of July, Cort McElroy ‘20 participated on a mission trip to El Salvador with parishioners from St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church in Cheverly, Maryland. Cort and fellow young parishioners at St. Ambrose mostly stayed in the town of San Agustin, in which St. Ambrose’s sister parish with the same name is located. They arrived on a Saturday morning and the group was welcomed graciously by the nuns and religious with a large dinner of rice and shrimp.
The following day the group attended Mass at San Agustin, followed by a long walk with the nuns around the town and its outskirts to give communion and distribute care packages to the elderly and sick of the community. The experience of sharing these care packages led to outbursts of joy among these people. Cort noted, “I felt as though we brought so much joy into their lives. One woman, who seemed to be in her late nineties, cried with joy so profusely, because she said no one ever came to visit her. It was through this experience of being invited into these peoples' homes that I realized just how privileged I am in the grand scheme of things.”
Many of the people the group visited and worked with during the trip lived in houses with dirt floors and homes were mostly constructed out of corrugated metal, which resulted from a large exodus of the townspeople when a devastating earthquake struck in 2001. Cort described that, “Even with this suffocating poverty which these people must endure every day of their lives, they were all so very happy, welcoming, and generous. All of them graciously invited me, a stranger whom they had never met before, and probably will never meet again, into their extremely humble abodes. We gave communion thrice more during our sojourn in San Agustin, and their courtesy never failed to amaze me.”
The group from St. Ambrose did a number of home improvement projects with the people from this community including refurbishment and painting of interior spaces. This gave the group the opportunity to experience the home life of these people and gain a deeper appreciation of El Salvadoran culture and hospitality. The group even had the opportunity to meet with the town mayor, thus discussing ways to further the partnership between St. Ambrose here in DC and their friends and counterparts in El Salvador.
Bishop McNamara would like to acknowledge Cort McElroy and the group from St. Ambrose for their service and outreach of Christian fellowship as these kinds of experiences provide tangible ways that our students are further Bishop McNamara’s vision of empowered leaders, inspired by the Gospel, transforming the world.