By Addie Crossen
SSJ Mission Corps volunteer
St. Mary-by-the-Sea in Cape May, NJ
When I first heard of the Summer SSJ Mission Corps Program, it sounded like a dream come true. How could it not? Spending 6 weeks in Cape May, one of the most beautiful places on earth, volunteering – one of my favorite things to do – and meeting others my age that share in some of my main interests! There was no downside to this opportunity and as the summer went on I truly did realize it was a dream come true.
Spending my summer at St.Mary’s-by-the-Sea Retreat House with the SSJ Mission Corps was the best decision I could have made last year. I had just finished my freshmen year of school and had gotten away from my volunteering roots, which I really didn’t like. Volunteering had always been a large part of my life and I knew I needed to get back to it somehow. Not only did the Summer Mission Corps Program provide me with a way back into volunteering, it also taught me so many lessons that I never expected to learn.
I learned how to live a simpler life, not only through my own actions of fasting and reflection, but through the examples of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. How they live their lives is truly beautiful and I am so grateful to have been able to take part.
I learned how to live in a community, and all of the incredibly hard work and patience it takes to be more concerned with the well-being and the needs of my community rather than my own, so that we were able to work together and grow together and learn together. The importance of communication and the ability to discuss my feelings with others will forever be a lesson that I will continue to use in my life.
The best part of living in the community was forming the bonds that were created. Being able to go from barely knowing one another to spending everyday together and becoming great friends was the greatest part. I was able to be with my friends and learn who I am as an individual with them as they were learning about themselves at the same time. It is an experience I will always cherish.