I just woke up from a six week long dream. Not a one of those dreams where you are asleep – one where it is more real than you could have imagined.
Growing up in an Italian-American family, I’ve envisioned Italy and the Italian culture with a gilded tint for as long as I can remember. Actually going there was on another level altogether. So when this summer I was assigned to an apostolate that would bring me to Italy for the first time, I definitely felt like I was dreaming- even more so because there were only a few short exam-filed weeks between when I found out I would be going there and my arrival. It felt surreal all the way up until I arrived to the airport in Milan and heard people actually speaking in Italian.
The other part of my dream was the apostolate with which I was assigned to help. It was my first summer experience with ECyD missionaries, high school girls who dedicate a month of their summer to serving the Church. They are assigned the city where they will spend their month, which in our case was international for all of them: three Mexicans, two Spaniards, and one Argentinian. Several times during the six weeks I spent with them, a question would hit me asking: How did we all get here again?
From across the world, during their summer vacation… They could perfectly well be at the beach, at parties with their friends, sleeping in and spending the long summer days in PJ’s… Or even more so, being here in Milan, shouldn’t they be more preoccupied with sightseeing and shopping? And here they are, waking up bright and early to help at a camp where they don’t speak the language, to play bingo and pray the rosary at a nursing home, or to wheel a patient on a walk outside who cannot talk to thank them.
These girls were a dream, because they are real. More real than I could have imagined. They are normal, but ever so extraordinary. They are growing, seeking, searching, discovering, and allowing themselves to find their answers in God. The strength with which they are fighting to be sincere and authentic Catholic teenagers inspired me with hope–a hope so real it’s like a dream.