A Student With a Purpose!
Gross Catholic Senior, Molly McCoy has found a way to live the Year of Mercy with passion and a little risk taking. Molly has had the opportunity to travel to McAllen, TX, three times in the last year to work with a refugee settlement.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen along with Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley (Diocese of Brownsville) has organized efforts to assist immigrants and provide needed services. Assistance includes a bath, food and clothing, information on their travel itinerary and an opportunity to contact someone back home. If their bus leaves early in the morning, sleeping tents are made available.
This is a collaborative effort made possible by Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, the City of McAllen and countless volunteers from all over the U.S. and other countries. The number of immigrants assisted can vary from 50 to 200 a day.
Molly heard about the opportunity from her aunt, June Oliver, who lives in Austin, TX. June’s church, St Andrew’s Presbyterian, sponsored the trip.
Going to McAllen and having the opportunity to work with people in this way was such an eye opening experience for me. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work and service work in the past on the Winnebago and Omaha Indian Reservations, through the St. Augustine Indian Mission, so the idea of doing service work again was exciting. I just had no idea how it would be a life changing trip.
I remember being pretty nervous, flying by myself for the first time and not knowing anyone other than my aunt. But, I’m so glad that I took that risk. I’ve been able to help plan the trip the last two times and I really enjoyed getting to spend time with the other young adults from St. Andrew’s church. It was even a great opportunity for me to share about my Catholic faith with others. I was asked a lot of questions about Catholicism, since there were a number of Presbyterians on the trip. My Aunt and I would walk the outdoor Stations of the Cross every morning and talk about the work that we were doing.
When I made the trip last December (the week between Christmas and New Year’s), we took winter coats for the refugees. I collected used coats from my fellow Gross Catholic students and took them to McAllen with me. When I returned home, I was able to tell the students where their coat went….yours went to Colorado, yours to Kentucky. It was such a good feeling to be able to donate something and see it actually be used and appreciated.
As a 5th year Spanish student, the trips have been even more rewarding, in that I have had the opportunity to use the Spanish that I learned at Gross Catholic from our wonderful World Language Department. Sometimes I have to tap out and let someone more fluent take over, but it has been great practice.
As part of my trip this past summer, I took some time to do some college visits. I am really interested in going to St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. I want to be an elementary school teacher and I’d like to minor in Spanish.
After I toured St. Mary’s I went to go visit Brother Joe Barrett. Brother Joe is a Marianist brother who was stationed at Gross Catholic for many years. Being a member of the Barrett House at Gross Catholic, I knew I had to. I had such a great visit with him. He told stories of his time at Gross Catholic and had me sit in his famous rocking chair. He told me that my dad (Kevin McCoy ’83) had sat in that same chair many times. He made me sing the song that my siblings and I had sang at my sister’s wedding earlier this summer (Mary Kate McCoy Herek ’11 and Tyler Herek ’10.) We talked about college and the challenges and rewards of going to school far away from home. He gave my Aunt a hard time for going to the University of Texas and I think he has found a new friend in her! I’m pretty sure there is a UT t-shirt on its way to him. Brother Joe’s love for Gross Catholic and its students is just as strong today as it ever was.
I hope to be able to go back to McAllen and continue to help with the great work that is going on there. Pope Francis has praised Sr. Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley for her work with immigrants in McAllen.
In this year of Mercy, I’ve been so blessed to have been able to share in showing God’s love and Mercy in this way, to be able to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked and shelter the homeless. Thank you to my friends at Gross Catholic for their support and to my Aunt for inviting me to join her.