08 May Student Trip to DC: Days 4 and 5
Wednesday morning was a free morning for the group, and many students chose to sleep in and take a much-needed break. One group decided to go bowling and visit the war memorials on the National Mall. Another group met up with a local family member for lunch. And the two other groups visited to the National Zoo. The zoo is free and open to the public every day and features many exotic animals. The most famous are their Giant Pandas.
In the afternoon, we all met back at Senator Tester’s office to receive a tour of the Capitol building, led by one of his staff members. In addition to learning about the history of the Capitol, the United States of America, and the legislative branch, the students got to see the two statues donated from the state of Montana. One is of the famous artists Charles M. Russell, and the other is of Jeannette Rankin, the first woman ever elected as a Congresswoman.
The also got to experience the feeling of standing under the dome which rises 288 feet!
photo credit: Lee W. Nelson
After another full day, the groups returned to their host families for dinner.
Thursday did not start out as planned. The subway system in the city had to shut down, because an electrical current had overheated a fastener on the subway rail. Unfortunately, that meant that two of our groups had to find other ways to get to our meeting place. Uber to the rescue!
Once everyone made it safely to Bethesda, we rented three minivans and drove out to Mount Saint Mary’s University. MSMU is a small liberal arts college in rural Maryland and the second-oldest Catholic college in the nation. The campus also includes the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes which was our first stop.
The students had about an hour to explore the beautiful hillside shrine, which was blooming with azalea bushes. The grotto is a replica of the one in Lourdes, France where the Blessed Mother of Jesus encouraged St. Bernadette to pray the rosary, especially for the conversion of sinners, and offered a miraculous spring of water which came from the earth. Here in America, another saint, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, frequented the spring that flows from this mountainside. It’s a beautiful and sacred place to pray.
After our visit, we attended Mass at the Immaculate Conception Chapel on the campus of Mount Saint Mary’s University. From there, we went to the dining hall where the students had lunch with Kurri Harris. Kurri attended St. Labre Catholic High School in Ashland, MT and is both Crow and Northern Cheyenne. She was able to share with the group about her experiences moving from Montana to Maryland and starting her college studies.
After lunch, we were given a presentation about the school by a member of the Admissions Office and then completed our day with a guided tour of campus. By the end of it, about half the group was ready to apply! It was a wonderful visit!