Ven A Ver
Students at De La Salle are offered opportunities to practice the Lasallian heritage of service and concern for the poor. All sophomores participate in the Sophomore Immersion Program (SIP), a one-day experience of walking in the shoes of the poor and marginalized in San Francisco's Tenderloin District.
Juniors and Seniors have the opportunity to participate in our Ven A Ver (Spanish for "Come and See") immersion programs which find their foundation in the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures -- the Bible.
Catholic Social Teaching holds that all people are deserving of dignity -- especially the poor, the powerless, and those pushed out to the margins of society by poverty and injustice, and that we are indeed our brothers' and sisters' keepers wherever and whomever they may be. The prophet Micah in the Hebrew Scriptures tells us exactly what God expects of us -- that we "Act Justly, Love Tenderly, and Walk Humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8). Jesus in Matthew's Gospel also makes very clear that whenever we feed the hungry, comfort the poor and sorrowing, and welcome the stranger, we are indeed doing this for him. These powerful messages from our Judeo-Christian tradition form the mission statement of our Ven A Ver immersion programs.
These experiences, in Salinas and San Diego, follow the lives of the poor, the homeless, the migrant workers and their families, and all the emotional, social, religious, and political realities that impact their lives. We are clearly taught that we can never know another human being until "we have walked a mile in their shoes."
Remarks by Ven A Ver Participants
"The one aspect of this experience that is most valuable to me is seeing the families interact with each other no matter how poor they were. Also how positive they were. They seemed really close to each other and it reminded me to work on getting closer to my family."
"The most challenging aspect of my experience was digesting everything that I’ve seen, heard, tasted, smelled. I have really been overwhelmed by everything."
"The prime example of poverty from my experience is seeing the migrant’s house. I don’t know why this has stuck with me but the image of her house is engrained in my head. The tires as steps, the hole in the back of her house, her starving dog all made me feel mad and sad."
"God was everywhere I served. I really did see God in everyone. I felt so at home and connected to the people there. When I was walking in the streets people would just say “hi” to me. I think it was amazing how people that were so poor and had so little would be so lively."
"I am so glad I came on this trip. It really has helped me learn more about myself. I feel more open and accepting towards differences."
"It was a great and real journey!"
"Poverty is ultimately loneliness. This is caused by neglecting to see All people as individuals."
"I think God was definitely present in our service. Not only did God work through us, but we were shown the different faces of God. People were so eager to help one another, and us, when they could."
"The memorial at the cemetery was one very valuable experience. It made real the stories of people dying, and also made me realize how fortunate I am that I will never have to die for food or shelter."
"God was especially evident in the faces of the poor – this culture with the least is more jovial than our culture with the most."
"It killed me that we didn’t have enough lunches to share with the day laborers. But seeing Matt run to the grocery store to buy more lunches with his own money made clear to me the space that Ven A Ver creates in our hearts."
Quotes from Past Participants
“Awesome. My relationship with God was pretty good and this amazing experience pushed it up a notch.”
“I see God in a whole new light through the eyes of the poor, especially migrants”
“Awesome reflections, great speakers. Got in better touch with God through all of the experiences.”
“This experience truly showed me where God hangs out… with the poor, the powerless, and the voiceless.”
“God is all around my world, more than I realize.”
“It (Venaver) changed my life – I want to come back.”
“A most incredible experience – very humbling, full of love and respect for humanity.”