Vocations View: Pastoral Assignment at the Boys and Girls Club

by Martin Aviles-Vazquez, Seminarian

Before I started my pastoral assignment at the Boys and Girls Club (B&GC) in Covington, Louisiana for the fall 2015, I was very excited about it because I was going to be working with kids. I have a lot of experience working with them, and I love it. In 2011, when I was in the seminary in Mexico, I taught catechism to 45 kids every Saturday and I was the Hispanic Youth leader in Ruston for about a year. I was also happy because the B&GC is located very close to the seminary. However, I was not that excited about the size and facilities of the club. I had seen it before and it was not big enough for the great number of children attending it.

My experience with the kids in the B&GC was very different from what I expected. Some of these experiences were a huge challenge and some were enjoyable for me. Most of the kids who attend the club are African-American, and they taught me a lot about themselves and their culture. This has helped me see firsthand the multicultural reality of the United States, which is in the Catholic Church as well.

One of my favorite things to do in my pastoral assignment was to help the kids with their homework. Most of the time, when I was helping them, they actually paid attention and listened to me. Sometimes they also read for me and I would help them with their pronunciation. It was a good feeling to know that I was contributing to children’s education in a positive way.

One day I was drawing for them, and a few kids gathered around me and were very amazed at my drawing. That was remarkable, not because my drawing was so great, in fact, it was very simple, but the reaction of the kids was priceless. I also enjoyed playing sports with them outside, such as soccer or basketball. Of course they loved it as well.

One time we stayed longer than we were supposed to because the kids wanted us to stay to play football with them. They were having a lot of fun and we were too.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t all positive. I experienced some difficulties that have helped me grow in my human formation. For example, sometimes kids don’t behave well and the instructors don’t respond adequately to them. In these cases I remember how I was educated. My parents didn’t allow their children to disrespect anybody, especially adults. I tried to teach this to the kids by treating them with respect. At first they still disrespected me, but I knew that perseverance always works. If I treated them with love and respect, they would treat me the same way. It is not the children’s fault if they are not well educated. By working with them, we can help them better themselves and create a brighter future.

Are you feeling called to a vocation in  the Church? Contact Fr. Matthew Long, Director of Church Vocations, at 318-868-4441, or mlong@dioshpt.org

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