Annual Mission Week Raises Funds for Central America
As early as the mid-1960s, Rockhurst began sending money to the Jesuits in Central America. The beginnings of Mission Week as we know it today originated in the early-1970s. Under the direction of then Mr. Frank Reale, SJ (former provincial of the Jesuit Missouri Province), as Student Council Moderator, a “Mr. Ugly Man Contest” was organized to raise funds for the missions in Central America.
After a few years the “Mr. Ugly Man Contest” gave way to “Mission Possible” week under the direction of such notable Student Government moderators as Mr. Frank Reale, SJ, Mr. Rick Staihr, Mrs. Carol Jean DeFeo, Fr. Paul Stark, SJ, and Fr. David Suwalsky, SJ. Today, “Mission Week” continues to be a solid tradition at Rockhurst. The fruits of this tradition have provided the missions with such items as a pickup truck, a mobile medical unit, maintenance of a radio station, houses, disaster relief, and tons of food for the undernourished and support for education.
In 1987 the “Battle of the Bands” began under the direction of Mr. Tom Norman ’59 and the National Honor Society. In the mid-90s, the face of a young Honduran boy became the identifiable logo for the “Battle of the Bands”. His name was Carlitos. Fr. Chris Pinne, SJ, had taken some RHS students down on spring break to visit Honduras and the Santa Ana Nutrition Center in the small Honduran town of El Negrito. When they arrived in El Negrito, they found Carlitos, a severely malnourished boy lying in a crib and Father took a photo. The next day the RHS students and Fr. Pinne returned to visit. Carlitos had died during the night.
Upon their return to Rockhurst, Fr. Pinne and the students spoke of Carlitos and showed faculty and students his picture. Two students, David Brecheisen ’96 and Justin Rogers ‘96 took the photo and drew the image (pictured) that became associated with the Battle of the Bands. Although the event is no longer part of the Mission Week schedule, Carlitos' face is still prominent throughout the week as a representation of those who will benefit from the Mission Week efforts.
The objectives of Mission Week are to grow as friends in the Lord, build community, cultivate awareness of the experience of the poor and marginalized and the needs especially with organizations we have connections with through mission and service, and to recognize that our gifts are not our own, but are meant to be shared with others.
Mission Week 2020 took place over Feb. 24-28 and included the following events: Senior Service Presentations, 6th Annual Chinese Food Tasting Contest, Volleyball Games versus Sion and St. Teresa's, Spring Blood Drive, Faculty vs. Student Basketball Game, Sophomore Dodgeball Tournament, Ash Wednesday Mass, Trivia Night and the Annual Mission Week Board Game (watch a recap of the Board Game here).
Each class is challenged to raise the most money for its recipient agency. For 2020 they were:
Freshmen - Romero Center in Paso Puente, El Salvador
Sophomores - One Global Village in Mali
Juniors - San Bartolomé Jesuit Parish in Arcato, El Salvador
Seniors - Community Projects in San Andrés Itzapa, Guatemala
School-Wide Penny Wars Competition - St. Peter Claver Jesuit Parish in Belize
At the conclusion of the week, students had raised more than $30,000 for the missions.