Above are some of the pictures that I took yesterday while visiting the summer camp run by the Missionary of Charity sisters here in St. Louis. As I've written before, my summer ministry was to teach at a high school in Chicago. Three of the other student brothers were sent to work at this summer camp as part of their summer assignment.
The summer camp is not far from where we Dominicans live, near Ss. Teresa and Bridget Church. This neighborhood is not doing well. In St. Louis, there is a high degree of poverty, mainly among the African-American population. To help keep some of the children of this poor neighborhood off the streets, the sisters have invited them to the camp where the can play and work in a Christian environment. During the time I was there, the older children were making pizzas (I presume of the dinner that they eat there), and the younger children were playing legos or puzzles. As I sat taking pictures of the little children, I took up one of the little toy men on the table and pretended to be talking about the lego buildings and how tall they were. Pretty soon, the boys were competing to build the tallest building (there's a picture of the tallest building above). It got pretty wild, when one of the boys, who wasn't on either side, started taking blocks from both sides, and knocking down the towers. Thank goodness the brother and young lady in charge of the group had patience.
Toward the end of my visit, I witnessed a more disturbing conflict. Two of the older boys must have been near a water fountain or sink, and the one got the other wet. According to the older/taller of the two, he apologized to the other boy. This wasn't enough for the shorter one, all the way back to the room where the group was making pizzas, the shorter one was hitting the taller boy. When Br. Cassian saw this, he pulled the shorter one off and took him aside to talk. Fr. Tom and I joined him. Fr. Tom tried to calm the boy down by asking him questions. All the while, the boy's face was fixed with hatred on the taller boy at the other end of the room. Fr. Tom asked him about the school where he went and the boy replied, "I hate everyone at that school." To see someone so young get so angry about nothing was sad. I wonder what kind of future this boy is going to have. Hopefully, the camp with have some lasting influence on him, teaching him to let down his guard and to love.
Well, that's all from this end for now.