Grambling State Campus Ministry unit offers the opportunity of Leadership and Mission Retreat each year during Transfiguration week, known to others as Mardi Gras Break.
The objective of this retreat is to serve, learn, render worship and fellowship with the homeless and poor of the St. Mark’s Treme Community in New Orleans. Grambling State University Spiritual Life Director and Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry Director has served St. Mark’s Church as their Guest Musician annually since 2004 for Transfiguration Sunday.
March 6 was an exciting occasion for GSU-SWAT leaders, Dr. Grace Tatem and Rev. Connie Breaux, La Sheena S. Simmons, an alum of Grambling State University, a Sorority sister of Delta Sigma Theta, and a ministerial protégé of Rev. Connie Breaux was appoint to serve the St. Mark Church Community for the remaining of the conference year. Rev,. Simmons will be the associate pastor, of spiritual formation resource to the homeless Treme’ Community of New Orleans.
The components of the Spiritual Life Retreat is to worship with the homeless, to serve and feed and fellowship with the homeless’ community on Sunday Monday for four hours the student leadership of the Canterbury Club , Wesley Foundation and GSU-SWAT team shared in a workshop on Leadership in Diversity. Monday afternoon, the students travel uptown to do another mission for the ST. George Episcopal Church Café Dragon on St., Charles Ave,. At this the mission was completed and the fellowship and recreation began for the International and American Students who had never seen such a spectacular event as Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Princess Auguste, an intern of Spiritual Life and campus ministry, has seen this retreat through different lens here is her reflection: “As a freshman a few years ago who was on the SWAT Team, I was still shocked about the amount of poverty and homelessness in New Orleans it was an eye opener and I was glad we were able to help. Now as a graduate student, I realize that a lot has been improved in New Orleans but there is still a lot of work to be done.
I have learned a lot from participating in the Annual Leadership Mission Retreat, I hope in the future more groups will do mission down to New Orleans to help the homelessness and the poor, the children and youth. The Director Coach Parker has invited Grambling State University to come and spend a week at the community center lie so many other university from other states do.
Reflection by: Stavinoha Bradley, Jr.: The SWAT Leadership retreat in my opinion was an excellent way to help out society, as well as to teach our leaders humility, and humbleness. We not only met our homeless in need brothers and sisters in Christ, but we had an excellent Worship service, and to me that is the best way to fellowship one to another. I also so would like to add that I believe this retreat should encompass all of our spiritual life leaders, and as the President of GSU SWAT I extend a warm welcome to all of our leaders.
The location of our housing was in a great location, however once you park you vehicle you need to be prepared to walk four blocks up is Canal Street, four blocks back is the French Quarters, and you can’t beat that for the price of our trip. Housing at the North Rampart Community Center is only $15.00 per person a night, however you prepare your own meals, a indoor warm pool, an historical gym, and now the outdoor has beautiful tarp grass and a wonderful drainage system where we just hung out and enjoyed walking with our shoes off, as we reflective and retreated in Sabbath. The North Rampart Community Center, offers the opportunity for college students to come and serve in their afternoon and summer camp tutorial program, the art program, and the new music studio.
Reflection from: Timothy Hernandez, I am entering my third semester at Grambling State University majoring in political science (pre-law) and Spanish. I am 20 years old from New York City. I would like to take this opportunity to share my experience with campus ministry over this past Mardi Gras break.
Over this past Mardi Gras break myself along with other fellow Gramblinites took a trip down to New Orleans under the wing of Reverend Connie Breaux on a mission retreat. The objective of this trip was to inspire and awaken the minds of the students. During our stay in New Orleans, we stayed at the North Rampart Community Center which regularly serve Treme Community children.
We linked up with Grace Episcopal Church on one occasion and assisted them in preparing a fundraiser. We helped cook the meals as well as cleaned the facility in which the church was using to host the fundraiser. Another event we took part in was feeding those that are less fortunate.
After sitting through a Sunday service which Rev. Connie who provided music for the worship service at St. Mark’s Church, we helped pass out meals after the service to the homeless community.
The trip was not all work, we also enjoyed and took part in the Mardi Gras festivities and other functions that the city of New Orleans had to offer.
Overall the experience with campus Ministry was amazing. It was fun, exciting and more importantly humbling. It provided me the opportunity to bond with other GSU students that I would have never been able to have if I not had gone on this retreat. Through this program and campus ministry I was also provided the opportunity that I’ve always wanted to take part in which was community service; particularly feeding of the less fortunate. I was very appreciative and I would recommend this opportunity to anyone who seeks to enlighten themselves and get a broader outlook and perspective on life and how the world works.
Rev. Connie Breaux invites leaders from the religious clubs and organizations to join our next year by sending two leaders per club, (one male and one female) the lodging consists of two dormitory rooms with ten beds. If you are interested in this opportunity you should contact Rev. Connie for more details on the annual retreat of you can design your own, however Rev. Connie Breaux is the liaison person.
Grambling State University Spiritual Life and Campus Ministry thanks their sponsors for their donation to help make this experience a blessing to the homeless, the poor and to the students’ collegiate experience;Trinity United Methodist Church for Transportation Presbyterian of the Pines for housing, travel and food and others who contributed to this annual event.