Thursday, June 3, 2010

Splash Party - Volunteers Needed!

Volunteers Needed

The Family Life Committee of the Parish is hosting their annual Splash Party and they need us to volunteer!

Tuesday, June 29, 2009, 6:00PM - 9:00PM *rain date is July 1*
Come at 6pm and enjoy some free food. The games will begin around 7pm.

Where: Conestoga Swim Club on Rt. 320 in Villanova

Help run the games for the children. Games include sack races, egg toss, etc.

BONUS: You'll get free food and access to the pool!

Please email Carol Abele ( if you can help out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More About Parish Mission Trip

Last month, I mentioned that our parish is going to participate in a mission trip this summer. You are all invited to join in and spend a week of your summer break participating in some very important and rewarding work.

Another information night about this mission will be held on May 10th at 7:30pm in the Parish Center. There is lots of service work to be done - in an orphanage, in a school with elementary age children, in a health clinic, and lots of habitat work.

Volunteers will have nice housing, great food, several cultural trips, and a couple of hikes in the mountains of El Salvador.

Students from Villanova University have been working the mission in El Salvador for four years. One student, Danielle Motondo, wrote a reflection of her time spent there and has shared it with you. Please take the time to read her story and consider joining the trip this summer.

Danielle Motondo' Reflection

El Salvador: a country that will forever be in my heart. Words on paper cannot describe the profound insight this beautiful country offered me into the true meaning of life, love, and happiness. In seven days the people, poverty, and religious passion inspired me to better understand myself and my place in this world. Everyone kept telling me while I was there, that your first experience with 3rd World poverty is the one that is closest to your heart, and this statement most certainly rings true for me. The minute I stepped off the plane and out into the country I would be spending the next week living in, I found myself overwhelmed with nerves. I was in a country known for gang violence, a civil war 20 years back, and living conditions that I had never seen firsthand before. I instinctively grabbed my bag tight worrying about getting robbed and looked into the faces of my fellow group members. These people were strangers to me. I didn’t know their parents’ names, childhood memories, greatest fears, or overall characters at all. What was I doing here? I was alone in an impoverished country-outside of my comfort zone with no friends or family.

Then I saw it…the image that haunts my memory and knocked the wind out of my soul…the sea of Salvadorian people. As soon as I stepped out of the airport there they were. The Salvadorian people: some tall some small, old, young, the same dark skin, the same face of sorrow and anticipation while looking for a small piece of esperanza or hope to walk out of that airport. These expressions, however, were not the catalyst for my life-changing experience; it was all in their eyes. The dark, chocolate eyes that glistened with sorrow, hardship, and kindness lured me into their lives sharing with me their stories. Hundreds of pairs of dark eyes upon me…”the gringo”…the girl who has it all…the girl from the unknown life…the girl who has come to help. When I first felt the weight of their gazes I thought the sting I felt was their envy. I later learned this sting was not envy but a kind, unhurtful longing for something more; something that I represented. It was their eyes that allowed ME to see a side of myself I had not known; a part of my soul that knows the necessity to serve, make people aware, and recognize the similarities in all of humanity, brothers and sisters all the same.

While on the service trip we were able to experience a number of different service opportunities and help the community in many ways. We visited an orphanage in the outskirts of San Salvador where we played with the children. Once again it was their eyes that caught my attention. Every pair of eyes had a sense of longing, confusion, and sadness. Most of the children just wanted to steal a piece of a puzzle, small bead, or a broken crayon just to put in their pocket so they would have something to call their own. Many of the small children did not speak, could not tell me their own birthdays, and were even hesitant on how old they were. They expressed to me that they had never left the orphanage or seen life outside of those walls. They went to school there, but many could not read or write their own names, let alone the fact that they did not understand what math was when I asked them if they were taught that in school. But these children were amazing in that they had so much character and love to share with complete strangers. Everyone wanted a friend or someone to color with.

Being able to speak Spanish, I was able to hear the most amazing, mind-shattering stories from children who seemed to know more about the importance of life than I ever will. While sitting with a 6 year old girl names Joselyn, she told me she had a mother. I asked her where her mother lived and what was she like…the small child responded in Spanish, “My mother lives in the gardens. She is beautiful and nice.” My heart broke for these children-the voiceless, innocent babies who had no say into their enterance into this world and lifestyle.

Another service site that I personally got to go on was the free health clinic. I was the only person in my group to go because there we a group of Eastern University nurses that needed a translator. Little did I know, I would become a nurse that day as well. At first I was hesitant to leave my group and be thrown into a health clinic just me and three non-speaking Spanish nurses, but the day ended up being absolutely amazing. The conditions in the clinic were extremely unsanitary, and it was packed with hundreds of people waiting all day to simply use an inhaler to breathe properly. I was able to administer shots, prepare nebulizers for infants, and speak to patients in the waiting area. It was here that I fell in love with a small, beautiful little girl in a red dress. She instantly became my friend and was so proud to tell me she had TWO notebooks and TWO dresses. The day was hectic and tiring, but extremely rewarding and eye-opening.

The rest of the week I attended two more service sites, both of which will forever have my heart. We helped to build Miguel’s house which was ruined in a mudslide from Hurricane Ida in this past November. Miguel was an amazing human being. He has seen and been through so much in his life, yet is one of the funniest jokesters I have ever met. He was able to bond with our whole group even though he did not speak English; laughing was universal and everyone understood that. I became best friends with his daughter Gabriela who took my hand and led me on adventures throughout her town showing me how to hold chickens, ducks, rabbits, and all sorts of fruits. We were able to climb to the top of the hill to see the effects of the mudslide, and the beds, baby shoes, and belongings scattered in the dirt. The whole experience and worksite was very hand-on and unearthing.

The last site we worked at was Villa Zaragosa, or as we called it the “dirt site.” Here we helped our cook, LLani’s village build a day-care center for the children of the town. This building is in its very early stages, and all week we moved a huge mound of dirt with five wheelbarrows and two shovels. This work was grueling and exhausting, but so much fun! The children of the town became my best friends. I returned to this site three times simply because I fell in love with those children. They were the hardest workers and at age 6 were able to carry more dirt than I could ever carry. All they wanted to do was play, be picked up, kissed, and hold your hand. They had so much love to give and taught me so much about compassion. They lived in tin houses with dirt floors, three rooms with ten children and a single mother, outhouses, and cockroaches. Their playground was rocks, dirt, and trees. Their toys were wild dogs and chickens, and their shower, laundry, and drinking water were all from the small stream by the town.

Those children are the definition of my El Salvador experience and I would do anything to go back and see them. They were my best friends, my teachers, and my soul-mates. I think about them a lot; when I first returned back home I would cry to everyone I talked to about what I saw and the people I met. I still look at my pictures once a day to keep my feeling and insight fresh in my mind for as long as possible. Often I find myself thinking about my little children from Zaragosa (Willy, Oscar, Lupe, Fernando, Alex, Alfredo, Jose, Juan, and more) right as I am about to go to bed. I lie awake and picture them in their beds laying next to each other in their small house and I hope they think of me too.

By the end of my trip I found myself enthralled in the Salvadorian people and culture. I was captivated by their hardship, the stories of their Civil War, the killings, and the fights. My group and I had become best friends who leaned on and admired each other; these people were no longer strangers, but family. I had grown to learn so much about myself and my place in the world of service. The children had truly touched my heart, mind, and soul, and the whole experience taught me the true meaning of veritas, unitas, caritas.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Youth Group Year Winding Down

Happy Easter!

I hope you all celebrated a wonderful Easter and enjoyed your Spring Break. I know after Spring Break, the school year really starts winding down. The same goes for Youth Group. We only have a few meetings left, but we will be making the most out of them. Please come and participate if you schedule allows.

Tomorrow, April 6, the high school group will be making its last trip to Presbyterian Village for this year. Please arrive at 7:10. We start at 7:15. The meeting will end at 8:30.

In the following weeks we have service projects, guest speakers, social games, and our end of year party. From the feedback I've gotten so far, it sounds like we'll be having our end of year party at Arnolds Fun Center (in Oaks) again this year. I'm open to other ideas if you have them!

Let's make these last few weeks, the best yet!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Invitation: Join the Parish Mission Trip to El Salvador

St. Thomas of Villanova Parish is trying to mount a parish mission trip to El Salvador this summer - the week of July 23-July 31. The attendees will be working in San Salvador and surrounding areas with the Sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Options for service will be:
  • working in an orphanage
  • building houses
  • working in a health clinic or a malnourishment center.
There will also be a cultural immersion piece - visits to church related places of interest and some hiking up La Puerta del Diablo.

The mission group will take teens 16 years and older by him/herself and middle schoolers with a parent.

Ths cost per person is $1300.00 which includes airfare and all costs.

If you're interested, come to the information night to hear about the trip!
INFO NIGHT: Tuesday March 30th at 7:30pm in the Parish Center.
RSVP to Anne Murphy at 610-525-4801 or

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thanks from OLBS

The Souperbowl of Caring shopping/stocking trip was a great success.

I received an email last week thanking our group for our contributions.

Hello Karen,

I am so sorry I was not able to come down and thank the youth group before they left yesterday. Thank you for all you did for our food pantry. God bless you and the youth of St. Thomas for always thinking of us.

Blessings on your day,
Mr. Mark Gonzalez
Director of Faith Formation
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

RSVP for Souperbowl Service Project

Please join the youth group and participate in the 2010 Souperbowl of Caring! This is a great way to start the season of Lent by helping others.

We will be meeting in the Rosemont Church parking lot following the 9am Mass on Sunday February 21. Then we will head over to BJs (in Conshohocken) and use the tithe collected at the masses from Superbowl Sunday to buy groceries to stock the food pantry at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.

Once we buy the food we will head over to OLBS to delivery and stock the pantry. We will be back in the Rosemont lot around 3pm.

Please RSVP if you can help!

PARENTS - if you can help drive and deliver, please let me know! I do need a few extra drivers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Teen Convocation for High School Teens

The Archdiocese is inaugurating the Teen Convocation as part of Catechetical Forum Weekend. High School-aged teens from throughout the Archdiocese will gather for fun and faith formation on Sunday, March 7, 2010 at Archbishop Carroll High School. The details are below. Please join in!

Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Archbishop Carroll High School
Radnor, PA

11:30 am -- 5:30 pm
Teen Convocation:
“Never-ending Story”

* Keynote Presenter – Jim Beckman
* Music – Tom Lelyo
* Workshops – Father Steve DeLacy, Sister Kelly, of the Capuchin Sisters of Nazareth
*Father Chris Rogers

* Sunday Mass!
Celebrated by Bishop Timothy C. Senior
$20 fee includes lunch and snacks
Open to all high school teens (grades 9-12)

Office for Catechetical Formation * 215-587-3760