Biloxi Mission Trip 2007

A photo from a past Biloxi youth mission trip (Photo by Katie Berger)

Welcome to the blog dedicated to covering the Jan. 1-6 youth mission trip to Biloxi, Miss. While young people from the archdiocese help hurricane-ravaged areas rebuilt, information and photos from the trip will be posted here in order from newest to oldest.

Latest blog posts


Who is posting on this blog?

Katie Cerisi is 16 years old, a junior at Bishop Chatard High School and a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis. This is her third mission trip to help the people of the gulf coast. She writes: " I enjoy doing this mission trip very much and am honored to be asked to help with the blog for this trip."

Blog entries

Last day

Katie sends back word about the last day of the trip:

The last day in Waveland, all of the youth where eager to complete the tasks that they had begun earlier in the week.

Another group of youth went to Deb's house and this time fire caulked it, removed all the nails in preparation for drywall as well as bolted the house to the foundation.  Other groups were sent to Jan and Brian's house to finish some minor projects there and yet another group was sent to St. Clares to clean up.  Father Meyers group enjoyed lunch on the beach, where Jimmy Mundell decided to feed the seagulls.

Later in the evening all of the youth gathered one more time for Mass at St. Clares.  Before the Mass, the priest from St. Clare joined us and thanked all of us for not only coming down to help but also for renewing his faith in young people. We had other guests with us at Mass; homeowners Jan and Brian who were very grateful for all of the work we had done for them this week.

We then enjoyed dinner at a restaurant that was sort of like a China Buffet, only not as good. Then we finished off the night and a great week with a two hour prayer service.  The prayer service was very moving, we started it with small group reflections on the week and then went into adoration where each member of the group went and prayed before Jesus and then received a cross, as a reminded of the trip. We finished up with a blessing.

Afterwards we all went back to the warehouse to pack up our belongings in preparation for an early departure the following morning.

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 4:13 p.m. on Sunday, January 7, 2007

Day Four

Katie summarizes day four:

There was a horrible storm that came through the area last night. In preperation for the storm they had all of the youth pack up all of our belongings and move them to a warehouse where we were to stay the night. 

One groups job the whole day was to move everyones stuff, and clean the bathrooms at our new facilities. We celebrated Mass at the warehouse, enjoyed some lasanga and watched a three hour movie on the pope.

All of us went to bed soon afterwards and then the storm hit. Fortunately all of us are perfectly fine thanks to the warehouse we stayed in. And fortunately for the youth we are able to spend another night in the warehouse, they have GREAT beds.

She also has two more reflections from youth:

'During our breakfast there was an announcement that a storm was coming, with lots of rain expected. We were handed trash bags and were told to put all of our overnight necessities in them, along with clothes for the next day. We stripped the beds and loaded our suitcases into a trailer, in case we had to spend another night at our new location.

After we packed our belongings, we were given work assignments, and our group was sent to a house near St. Clares. We thought we were going to be painting, but we ended up sanding walls for a short time. The owner of the house, Betty, came out to see us.  She was really grateful for all the work we were doing to help those in need.

When the sanding was completed, we went back to St. Clare to load up the trash bags into a trailer.  We the n went to our new home, a huge warehouse where they build houses. Our rooms were in an upstairs hallway, complete with mattresses and box springs. After M ass and a dinner of lasanga, we spent the night watching a movie on Pope John Paul II."

- Katie Wessel

"Today my group went to Brian and Jan's house to work on the interior parts of the house. We sanded the walls, plastered them and then painted them. We also worked on building shelved. We looked at pictures of their house before and after the storm and to see the progress that has been made, it is amazing.

They also invited all of us and everyone that has worked on the rebuilding of the house to come and visit them when the house is complete.  To see the appreciation on their faces was worth more than any amount of money one could pay."

- Kateri Fites

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 12:59 p.m. on Friday, January 5, 2007


Day three

Youth praying in makeshift chapel

Katie send along more photos, and writes about day three:

The two groups worked diligently today to finish the tasks they had began yesterday.  One group finished priming and then painting the outside of a house; another removing the floor tiles of Deb’s house.  It was a long exhausting day but knowing that we were helping the people slowly but surely get their lives back together made it all worth while. 

For dinner tonight we were sent to an Italian Buffet for an amazing feast.  While at the restaurant, an older woman named Pam approached our table and was thanking us tremendously for giving up our time to come down and help the people of Waveland.  She told us that if it was not for volunteers such as ourselves, many of the people living in the southern coast would still be living in the same conditions as they were the day after the hurricane. 

Hearing her thank us really reaffirmed for me why we had come down to help, it is as Father Meyer keeps telling us; we really are spreading the love and message of Christ.  No matter how much work we do for the people, we always have to pray and strive to spread Jesus’ love.  We finished the day with more bonding, mass and of course the daily adoration.

She also has gathered two more reflections from youth on the trip:

“After a nice rude awakening, I had a wonderful breakfast of Cap’n Crunch and pop tarts. I returned to Scott Hereford’s house to prime and paint the whole outside. I spent a good portion of the day working with my good friend Mikey priming the entire side of the house by ourselves.  By the end of the morning we had the entire house primed and began to paint. 

It took the whole day and a few near-death experiences on the ladder but by the end of the afternoon we had the entire outside of the house completely painted.  While we were working, Mr. Hereford talked with us and shared stories about surviving the hurricane with his loyal friend, his dog Lady.  We also met another friend of Scott and Lady, a blind, 13 year-old beagle named Maggie. 

After an excellent dinner at the best Italian buffet ever, we ended the day with the best way possible, the Mass.”

- Ian Barnstead

“I removed tiles from the house of an extraordinarily nice lady, Deb.  I also helped paint a house.  Removing the tiles was a lot easier today because we got to use a blow torch.  I really love helping these people, especially Deb, because they are so thankful and nice.  I love talking to them and hearing their stories, because it gives me all the more reason to come back again and again to help them.”

- Rose Roberts

View a gallery of Day Three photographs

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 4, 2007

Day two

Youth working on a house

Katie writes: "On our first day of working in the Waveland area, the youth had their first opportunity to travel out and help people living in the areas.

"Some of the youth were sent to scrape paint off of the outside of a house In preparation for painting it; while others were sent to another house just down the road to scrape tiles off the floor."

Katie sent some pictures as well (View a gallery of Day Two photographs).

She also sends along accounts given of the week so far from two of the young men on the trip. Here, then, are Jimmy Mundell and Matt Sergi reflecting on their first day:

On our first day of doing the Lord’s work, we woke up at St. Clare’s Recovery Center energized for spreading the word of Jesus Christ. After a tasty breakfast (personally I had Lucky Charms and a bagel with some cream cheese) the faction was split up into three different work groups to prioritize professing the message of God.

My group (Melchior – he brought frankincense to the baby Jesus) went to the house of a woman named Deb. She had been out of her home for the 16 months since the hurricane and in a mobile home for 14 months. Her house was completely gutted already, but the tiles on the floor needed to be removed for reconstruction to begin. At first, progress was agonizingly slow. It seemed as if no matter how many hammers, crowbars, and axes we had we would not get this woman’s tile off. However, after a nice idea by me and Father Meyer, we decided to work in teams to quickly and efficiently remove the tiles.

Returning from our exhausting work, we enjoyed a nice steam in the showers and had some social time before dinner. Thanks to Father Meyer, we enjoyed a pleasant meal at “Da Kitchen” (The Kitchen), a local restaurant. Piling back into the vans, we thought we were headed back to base camp. Little did we know that we would be in for a treat. Kickball! After my team got defeated in the kickball game, we changed mental states and enjoyed our first Mass at St. Clares.

Then, we had our second surprise of the night; delicious cake and some awesome decorations awaited us in the mess hall to celebrate Katie Wessel’s birthday. Later, Father Meyer shared with us some insights involving the theology of the body.  Well, I’m pretty much exhausted right now, and I’ve got to get up at 2:30 in the morning to adore Jesus Christ (all-night adoration). Shout out to Julie Mundell (my mom). Love ya!

- Jimmy Mundell

“On our first glorious morning at beautiful St. Clare Recovery Center, we were awoken by Father Meyer to get us up and ready for the day. We got ourselves some- what organized and went to munch on some breakfast. We were welcomed with an assortment of delicious fruits and cereals that we eagerly feasted on before getting started.

Then we were divided into 3 squads, Melchior, Caspar, and my own group Balthasar. We then got into our vans and were transported to our work sites. My group helped scrape paint off of a man’s house. During Hurricane Katrina his house was lifted up twenty feet in the air and moved over from its original location. The resident said that he lived in a tent under the remains of his house for two months and was then moved into a FEMA trailer. The pictures and stories that he shared with us are memories that I will cherish forever. Seeing this mans house and how simple of a task it was for us, but yet how much it would mean to him really made me realize how thankful these people are to have us helping them. To top it all off, tomorrow we will be putting primer on his house.

After sharing the light of Christ with the people we helped, we returned to headquarters to bathe and hang out. Then we were escorted to one of Waveland’s finest eateries, “Da Kitchen.” After gorging on the enormous burgers and drinking refreshing cola, we found out that we were in for a night of fun. We drove to a local ballpark and had ourselves a rousing game of Kickball under the lights and the stars. After viciously defeating our opponents, we returned for Mass.

After a beautiful service we celebrated Katie Wessel’s sixteenth birthday which fortunately included cake. Then we sat with Father Meyer as he shared with us many great life lessons. Well its been a tiring day and I’m going to hit the hay. I also am going to adoration in a few hours. Shout out to Mrs. Mundell (Jimmy’s mom).”

-Matt Sergi

View a gallery of Day Two photographs

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3, 2007


Day One

In front of Dinosaur WorldKatie Ciresi, who is the youth that is sending back information and photographs, had this to say about the first day of the trip:

After 7:30 mass at St. Luke’s Church, the trip participants and families ate breakfast before departing on the twelve hour plus trip.

The long twelve hour trip allows for the youth, as well as chaperones to bond together and get to know one another more closely. There were many interesting sites to be seen on the trip down, including “Scary Sams,” a convenience store, and Dinosaur World. Of course after fueling up the vans and stopping for a “quick” bathroom break, all vans stopped to take pictures with the dinosaurs.

Our later stop at “Scary Sams” provided another photo opportunity, this time with a giant pink elephant.  A while later, all three busses stopped for pizza at Dominos.  Because of the colder weather, we were unable to eat outside; therefore we were unsure of where to eat the pizzas at. After putting our heads together, we settled on the hotel lobby of the Sleep Inn.

All three vans plus the truck finally arrived in Waveland at the St. Clare Church around 11p.m.  The youth were shown to where they would be sleeping and showering for the week, in large tents, and shortly thereafter were all asleep, resting for the long week of work ahead of them.

Katie also has some pictures that you can view in a gallery.

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 10:39 a.m. on Wednesday, January 3, 2007


Introduction by Kay Scoville

In the vanKay Scoville, the program coordinator for youth and young adult ministry in the archdiocese, wrote the following about this trip:

“Twenty-one high school students from across the diocese gathered to load up their belongings in a trailer prepared to make its way to Waveland, Mississippi.  The students along with 10 chaperones, lead by Father Jonathan Meyer, were preparing to assist the victims of hurricane Katrina.  This is the third trip sponsored by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry in the Office of Catholic Education.

The group gathered with their families at 7:30 AM on New Year’s Day at St. Luke Catholic Church.  Once again, the students were offering one of their school breaks to assist others.  After checking in, they gathered in the church for a Mass celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  Father Meyer offered a final blessing for “Missionaries”, the students and chaperones, at the conclusion of Mass.

The students and their families enjoyed a quick breakfast generously offered by some St. Luke parishioners, said their good-byes to their families and loaded up into the three vans.  The vans each were named after one of the Three Kings that visited the infant Jesus:  Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.  It seemed so fitting, for these students and chaperones are traveling afar to bring the good news of Jesus to the people of Waveland.  They will return on January 6, 2007 on the Epiphany of Our Lord”.

Kay also sent along a few pictures, including the one above, taken by a parent of the youths preparing to leave. You can view them here

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 1:33 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2, 2007


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