Inside USD

The Power of Community: East Los Angeles

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Melissa Bruce ‘14, a biology major, (pictured fourth from the left on the back row in top photo), wrote this reflection about her participation in University Ministry’s Romero Immersion Trip to East Los Angeles late last month. The Immersion Trips help students cultivate a commitment to social justice, live in solidarity with those on the margins of society and deepen their faith.

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” — Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day so eloquently reminds us what beauty and power arises from communities. During my time in East Los Angeles I was constantly humbled by the sense of community I experienced and witnessed.

Our first night in LA, I was immediately greeted by the high school youth group at Dolores Mission. Their friendly smiles, openness, and hospitality towards a group of strangers was truly impeccable. That night while reflecting on our first evening, I felt truly blessed to be so accepted and embraced by so many members of the Boyle Heights community.

While attending Homeboys Industries I realized the power of communities. I saw rival gang members show love and compassion towards one another. They were constantly recognizing each other’s self worth, and showing God’s abundant love by their kind actions.

The following day I also experienced the limitless ability of communities. We attended a shelter in close proximity to Skid Row. During that time I not only experienced community with the men and women playing chess in the shelter, but I also experienced community with the homeless people on Skid Row.

While walking through Skid Row I felt like I was a part of their community. I vividly remember smiling at a lady who was sitting on the sidewalk. We made eye contact, and we both smiled at one another. That simple interaction reminded me that we are all brothers and sisters of Christ, and I saw God’s presence in her warm and beautiful smile.

While in East Los Angeles, I was blessed to be welcomed into a family’s home. For two nights they cooked for me, loved me, and told me and showed me the value of witness. I was humbled by their generosity and compassion when they welcomed me into their home. Looking back on the immersion trip, I believe that I experienced the most love and community expressed by my host family. Their abundant hospitality was truly inspiring and it encourages me to continue to expand my circle of compassion.

— Melissa Bruce ‘14

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