During the week before Christmas, 25 dedicated young adults from around the world ventured into a high school mission project in the Bronx.
They are eager and faithful members of the Emmanuel School of Mission, which is based in France; ESM coordinated the school visit with the U.S. chapter, ESM-NYC.
The mission week at All Hallows included a Dec. 19 morning Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan at the boys’ high school on East 164th Street in the Bronx. The group also plans to meet with All Hallows students at other points during the school year.
“It went really well, it was a great Mass. Cardinal Dolan is a great individual. He really connected with the students,” Bernie Ramirez, All Hallows assistant director of admissions and advancement, told Catholic New York.
The entire student body, more than 500 boys, attended the Mass, as did Ed Walsh, the chairman of the board at All Hallows, and alumni and benefactors.
The Emmanuel Community is a fraternity of the Church, established in France in the 1970s. It later started the ESM missionary formation program for young adults, typically 18 to 30 years old, using New Evangelization formation.
Emmanuel School of Mission-NYC began in 2017 and became incorporated in 2019. Six missionaries served in the first school year, 10 the second year, and now 25 this year. It is headquartered next to Immaculate Conception Church on East 150th Street in a building that once served as a convent.
The ESM-NYC program includes a nine-month immersion experience, from Oct. 1 to July 1, in which young adults share life with other missionaries from several countries. They participate in daily prayer, Mass and Eucharistic adoration. There are established ESM locations in the United States, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, the Philippines and Cameroon in Central Africa.
The program includes classes in theology, anthropology, culture and evangelization; outreach to the homeless, street evangelization and parish mission; and a pilgrimage to Rome.
The 25 young adults participating in the Bronx this school year are from France, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Mexico and the United States. Six are from the United States, including one each from Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Minnesota, and two from California. Community outreach in the Bronx is often done with Missionaries of Charity sisters who serve there.
“They are here to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ, in their love for Christ,” said Debby Kruszewski, who runs back-end operations for ESM-NYC. “And they help share that with the rest of the world.
“We have a (school) year commitment with All Hallows—to help enlighten the students, to help bring them closer to Christ. We plan to make our relationship with All Hallows a long-lasting one.”
Ms. Kruszewski said that in the first two seasons, ESM-NYC focused on holding missions in parishes. This is the first season that coordinators are working with a school. She noted, “We have the support from the archdiocese with welcoming arms from Cardinal Dolan. We are blessed with his support.”
Veronika Walerowicz, 20, from Mannheim, Germany, is one of the young adults participating in the missionary formation program in the Bronx. She said faculty members at All Hallows “are amazing, and the students are attentive and respectful…We did service projects for the homeless and for women in homeless shelters, with the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.”
Susan Natale, principal at All Hallows High School, said, “This was a very powerful week. There was formation and they gave testimonials. I can see our staff really embracing them as part of our family.”
Ms. Kruszewski said if any of the All Hallows students would like to participate in the ESM program in the future, “that would be great.”
Joshua Figueroa, 17, an All Hallows senior and student council ambassador, said he would certainly consider doing so after college and before entering the work force.
“I believe I’ve become a better follower of God because of them,” Joshua said of the ESM missionaries.
Joshua expressed appreciation for the young adult missionaries, and for the program coordinators including Father Charles Rochas, ESM executive director, who is from France, and Father Paul Glennon, ESM chaplain, who is from Ireland. The two priests concelebrated the Mass offered by Cardinal Dolan.
In his homily, the cardinal spoke about the significance of maintaining a strong faith in the Lord during times of darkness. He told the ESM young adult missionaries, “You are an inspiration and light to the world.”