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CFX Trips Send Students to Serve in Tennessee, Mexico

Each summer, the Companions of Francis Xavier (CFX) program sends students and members of the faculty and staff to people and places in need. This summer, Xavier returned to Robbins, Tennessee to partner with Appalachia Habitat for Humanity and Tijuana, Mexico to partner with Esperanza International.

Over the week, students not only help in the construction and upkeep of homes but take time to pray and reflect on the realities of social injustice in our world.

Both crews set out on their respective trips last weekend.

“The Tennessee crew, composed of rising juniors and faculty and staff leaders, has been staying busy in the heat, putting up insulation and siding, digging a trench for a water line, and starting to work on porch railings and a wheelchair ramp,” said Director of Ignatian Service Programs Greg Stelzer ’11.

“Besides the service work with Appalachia Habitat for Humanity, we will share a few meals and spend time with other members of the community here in Robbins,” added Stelzer.

Students in Appalachia will spend most of their week on the worksite. When they put their tools away for the day, the group has had the opportunity to spend time in the community of Robbins and learn about Appalachia Habitat's mission of providing affordable housing and investing in the community by empowering and supporting their families.

The Mexico crew, composed of rising seniors and faculty and staff leaders, is the first CFX group to venture to Tijuana since 2018.

“The group has been spending their time building relationships with the people of Tijuana,” said Stelzer. “They have been busy mixing and pouring concrete for a foundation for a new home and will also spend time visiting the U.S./Mexico border and learning about different issues of injustice that affect poor communities in Tijuana.”

In the spirit of the CFX program, the students have been challenged to engage in simple living, prayer, and reflection, all to become more open to growth and inspired to make service for and with others part of their lives.

And while the students have done much of the work, none of this would be possible without the financial support from the parents, families, and friends of all the student participants.

Each student was expected to raise funds to allow Xavier to sponsor the construction of the new homes, which was especially important this year given the increased costs of lumber and supplies faced by the organizations the groups have partnered with.

“Xavier is proud to partner with Habitat and Esperanza—two of our longest-running service trips, and offer these service learning experiences for our students,” said Stelzer. “The students and faculty chaperones have been doing a great job so far living out our mission of being men and women for others.”