Below is a post from Shawn Phillips, long-time Friend and dedicated supporter. In 1991 Shawn was able to get approval from Fr. Wasson for the first ever youth group to visit NPH Mexico at Casa San Salvador. He has continued to sponsor a child since that first year, and he currently sponsors a youth that is in school at NPH Mexico in Cuernavaca.
I joined the Staff of Holy Name as the Youth Minister in 1993. That spring, before I came on the team, Holy Name had hosted a Fiesta for Minnesota Friends of the Orphans. In the first months we began to set up a plan for the Youth Ministry, which included an integrated social justice component. Part of our hope and dream was to have service that was in our local community, in the broader community and in the global community. Instead of having projects in which we would come in and leave, we wanted to develop significant relationships with the communities that we were developing service with.
One of the goals was to take a group of young people to NPH Casa San Salvador to deepen the relationship that Holy Name had already begun with NPH by hosting a mini-fiesta and a full fiesta. We approached Fr. Phil when the Ballet Folklorico returned to Holy Name in the spring. Fr. Phil said that we needed to get approval for such a venture from Fr. Wasson who happened to be visiting the people of Holy Name with the young people from Casa San Salvador.
The intimidation of Fr. Wasson’s reputation as a great man soon evaporated, as we began to talk about the possibility of bringing high school youth to live with and share with his family. My initial reaction was the greatness of Fr. Wasson’s vision for the children of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, and he seemed to be delighted about the possibility of introducing his family to the young people.
Much preparation brought us to Casa San Salvador in Miacatlan, Mexico over spring break. We had a mix of work and relationship-building projects with the children. Our group, as much as possible, tried to fit into the schedule of the house from the morning work projects in the field to the evening reading stories in the children’s rooms.
The transformation quickly became apparent as the Pequeños captured the hearts of the young people. The Pequeños showed a generosity and openness of spirit which encouraged our young people to do the same. The children showed each of our young people the face of Christ and created in them a desire to serve through service.
Today, Holy Name is still providing this experience for the young people to be transformed, and there are multiple groups of high school youth that visit the homes of NPH in Latin America because of this partnership that started over a decade ago. It has been my experience that the young people continue their relationship through sponsorship, and some even later volunteer for a year or more in one of the homes. The love that transforms the Pequeños' lives through NPH also transforms the lives of the young people that visit.