Finding God on Gannon’s campus: ‘To live together, we must first build bridges rather than walls’


Over spring break, rather than spending time with family or friends, many Gannon University students and faculty members dedicated a week of their time to service projects all over the country and world.
One group, which was designed specifically to provide service of presence to the members of the L’Arche community in Mexico City — as well as Queretaro — learned several valuable lessons throughout the trip.
The most important lesson we learned on our trip is that to live together, we must first build bridges rather than walls.
In a time in which the current United States political situation — whether good or bad in the eyes of the American people — creates a tension between those in Mexico and those in the United States, many students and faculty immediately felt the pressure and responsibility of what it means to be a representative of the United States.
Overall, the experience was kept to what was seen and felt in the L’Arche community.
However, when forced to reflect about the current political situation of the country through reflection or questions asked in the community and by other Mexican citizens, students were faced with the reality that this topic, however unpleasant it may be, is inescapable.
While at a Monday night house Mass, the group experienced the beautiful testimony of Lupe, the L’Arche house coordinator, as she explained the impact the simple presence of the group had on the community — and not just simply the L’Arche community, but the entire neighborhood as well.
“As North Americans, we share a deep connection that has been tested time and time again,” she said.
“While the situation outside of our L’Arche community is out of our control, the important thing is that we remain true to our connection here.
“Let us always continue to forget about the walls being built and focus on the bridge we formed three years ago.”
This group, under the leadership of senior English major Leigh Tischler, experienced multiple other instances in which these conversations took place, the most important being with the pastor of the parish in which the group stayed for most of the week.
“We’ve had countless groups come to us in the past and each one that has come has always demonstrated the idea that despite the bumps in the relationship between Mexico and America, Americans still come to share in the life of their neighbors,” he said.
“That has always been the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
For the group, the words by this priest stayed and resonated with us throughout the rest of our trip.
As the week after our ABST continued, we began to see the clear effects of what it truly means to be bridge builders.
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