Last fall, Loaves and Fishes invited everyone in the Mayfield family to embark on a socially distant type of volunteering, benefiting the food-insecure members of our larger L.A. community. Students, parents, faculty and staff members all packed brown bag lunches every week, and by the summer, this program had delivered more than 12,000 lunches to our neighbors at Union Station Homeless Services and the St. Francis Center. Director of Community Service Carol Fitzsimmons explains how engaged people became with the project: “[They] would roll down the window and say, ‘This meant so much to me’...grateful to be able to do something sacramental—to love your neighbor, to be in solidarity with people at this lonely time.”
Indeed, everyone at Mayfield seemed eager to relaunch the program, especially the students. Campus Ministry Council (CMC) Co-Head Mia Maalouf ’22 calls the CMC a “cornerstone to my life at Mayfield,” especially because of “the transformative service opportunities” it has provided. With the entire student body back on campus, in-person service opportunities are finally opening up again. However, Mia says Loaves and Fishes still can play an important role—a much bigger one! It remains “an accessible way for Mayfield students to be part of something greater, by packing a sack lunch with love.”
There have been some changes to this lunch program this year. The weekly donation day has shifted from Wednesday to Friday, informed by a newfound understanding that fewer social services are available to the people who receive these lunches over the weekend. A second donation site was added in the gym, offering easier access for juniors and seniors as they leave their parking lots. This kind of refining and rebuilding is actually central to the unofficial theme of Campus Ministry this year: “starting over.”
Director of Campus Ministry Teri Gonzales expands on that idea a bit, “We learn from what we had before the pandemic, but we also carry on with every new thing that we learned during this pandemic.” She says, “We are continuing to evolve...seeing what works for the community.”
In a few short hours, after all of the lunch deliveries were finished, the gym would be doing double duty for Campus Ministry again, this time as the venue for our annual Mass of the Holy Spirit.
Ms. Gonzales explains the many ways this year’s Mass has special significance. It is the first Mass in 18 months that our entire school community is able to celebrate together. Also, we are coming to the end of the 175th anniversary of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ), and this is one of the very few in-person events where we can celebrate this important milestone together as a community of faith. And finally, as we confront another surge in this relentless pandemic—in addition to the 20th commemoration of the attacks of September 11—Ms. Gonzales sees how this Mass had the potential to deeply enrich all of us. “There is a hunger out there because the whole experience has in a way made us realize there is something bigger than ourselves,” she says. “Not just our connection with each other...but that there's also a source of life beyond us, bigger than us.”
In short, there has never been a better point to welcome the inspiration of the Holy Spirit into our midst. And longtime friend to the Mayfield community, Father Greg Boyle S.J., couldn’t have been a better choice as celebrant for this special Mass.
Fr. Greg is renowned nationally and internationally for his work with Homeboy Industries, and as the author of bestselling books like “Tattoos on the Heart” and “Barking to the Choir.” Ms. Gonzales felt that Boyle’s unique mix of motivation and inspiration would help Mayfield in this new beginning, knowing that his words would “move our hearts so we can do the work of being in the margins.” And move our hearts he did.
Fr. Greg zeroed in on the theme of the 175th anniversary of the SHCJ, "Love and Serve," and wove the idea into today's Mass directly. "There's a point to 'loving and serving,'" he says. "That kinship. That you may be one. That we obliterate once and for all the illusion that we are separate...there is no us and them, there's just us."
Another important part of Mayfield’s Mass of the Holy Spirit is when students are “commissioned” as members of Campus Ministry and Eucharistic Ministers. “I have always wanted to become a Eucharistic Minister because Holy Communion is central to my faith as a Catholic,” says Hannah Sherman ’22. The Eucharistic training was paused while school went remote last year, but a record number of 18 students wanted to be part of training when it resumed this year. Hannah continues, “I am looking forward to serving in Masses throughout this school year and deepening my understanding of the celebration of the Eucharist.”
Chloe Clawson ’23 also went through the training to become an Eucharistic Minister, and she shares how COVID-19 has brought her to a more active role inside Campus Ministry. She says, “Personally, the pandemic has helped me grow in my faith, especially through prayer. I think that this isolation helped me find myself...I always found myself looking back to God to help me.” Chloe’s perspective partially indicates what this new beginning inside Campus Ministry can mean for others as well—a move from isolation to a new type of kinship. She says, “Overall, I think that service is a great way for us to come together in the Mayfield community, and sharing each other's experiences can help us grow.”
The year has just begun but the Campus Ministry team already is hard at work devising the many ways of serving this diverse community again, whether this involves exploring ways of improving the retreat programs, or providing vibrant theological sessions for Mayfield parents. Whatever eventually takes form, Ms. Gonzales promises, ”It won’t be the same old, same old.”