Immersion Service Trips
Spirituality can be seen most concretely in the many service projects our students enthusiastically support throughout the year. They develop leadership skills while organizing and participating in projects that involve the entire community and gain perspective as they extend to and engage the world beyond.
Each March, during the spring vacation, Canterbury chaperones a group of upper form students to Nicaragua to volunteer with the Fabretto Children’s Foundation (www.Fabretto.org), an organization with which Canterbury enjoys a long and sustained relationship. Through education and health services, the Fabretto organization aims to break the cycle of poverty, which traps so many children in remote communities. Canterbury students work specifically in the communities of Cusmapa and Esteli.
In Cusmapa, a remote agricultural community located near the Honduran border, students commit to a week of labor projects. On recent trips, Canterbury volunteers have constructed adobe kitchens for the Fabretto “oratorios,” or learning centers and reconstructed or fortified individual homes of Fabretto families.
Canterbury volunteers have also participated in reforestation and irrigation projects recently.
In Esteli, Nicaragua’s third largest city, Canterbury volunteers work with children of the La Cruz community. Known as “people of the dump,” the members of the La Cruz community live within the Esteli city dump and make their living picking through the trash heaps. In La Cruz, volunteers have worked closely with the Fabretto staff to create a community garden which supplements the Fabretto lunch program. Each year when our volunteers return, they amplify, recondition, and maintain these gardens. Canterbury volunteers have also built hand washing stations and engaged with students teaching healthy practices and proper hygiene.
Canterbury students annually sponsor children in the Fabretto program and prepare for the March trip by collecting school supplies, athletic equipment, and textbooks.
Each August, Canterbury faculty members chaperone a group of students to Lourdes, France. The focus of this 10-day pilgrimage is to serve the sick and elderly, who come to Lourdes, the most famous and visited Marian shrine, seeking spiritual renewal and healing.
Canterbury students work at the train station, baths, hospital, and grotto assisting malades, the visiting sick, in completing their pilgrimage. In addition to serving the sick and their families, Canterbury volunteers embark on their own pilgrimage through daily liturgy, prayer, and reflection. This past summer, Canterbury volunteers joined forces with several other school groups creating a group of nearly 50 committed pilgrims.
The Urban Plunge Program is an immersion workshop and retreat experience which invites students to a genuine conversation about the world around us. The program focuses on raising awareness, challenging perceptions, and encouraging behavioral change that reflects the Christian social teachings of peace, justice and appreciation of the dignity of every person and value of the earth.
The five day experience, open to all Canterbury students, serves as a tool to be introduced to and explore issues of justice and the reality of oppression. Through partnerships with local agencies in urban Chicago neighborhoods, Canterbury students are able to get to know people, to challenge stereotypes, to confront fears, to break down barriers that "protect" us from the unknown and the different.