By Stephanie Garza SAN ANTONIO—Our Lady of the Lake students have the opportunity to make some money this summer while helping high school students deepen their faith. Encuentro (The Encounter), is a high school theology institute on the OLLU campus that is seeking 24 college students to serve as mentors from June 6 through June 16. A $1,600 taxable stipend is also awarded to mentors upon the successful completion. This means mentors must complete all training required, attend and participate for the entirety of the Encuentro program. OLLU was awarded a $600,000 grant to host four years of the program for high school students from the West Side of San Antonio. According to the Encuentro Program Coordinator, Roxanna Chavez, every summer this program offers 30 high school students the chance to “experience life on campus, dive into culture, art, service, and share their faith with other peers.” Encuentro also offers college students the chance to participate by becoming mentors to the high school students. Mentors will be facilitating workshops each day with different themes. “Workshops will be on “Encuentros” (Encounters with God), Baptismal Call (Scripture and Drama), Theological Faith Traditions (Culture and Vocation, and Spirituality and the Arts), Morality and Contemporary Issues, and Faith in Action, a service day we spend at the San Antonio Food Bank.” Chavez said. Encuentro student mentors will also have training four days before the high school institute from June 6 through June 9, 2018. Chavez hopes the mentors will realize that what they say and do makes an impact on others. “It’s a great feeling, knowing that you helped someone change their life for the better. I hope they will be able to become closer to the new friends they will make, and I hope the program will help them become closer to God and closer to finding their true calling in life,” Chavez said. She also said that most of the high school students and college mentors who attend, “come away from the program saying it was something they have never experienced before, and they were pleasantly surprised.” “What I really loved about Encuentro was the idea of being able to help others grow in their faith at the same time learning more about where I stood in my own faith, and how to move forward. So when the opportunity came around to apply for a second and now third time there was no hesitation to submit an application. Through this experience not only did I gain experience in leadership but I was able to connect with others I probably would have never talked to if not for Encuentro. I believe that Encuentro is full of opportunities to learn and grow in various ways regardless of your role and position in this theological institution. Whether you’re a mentor or high school participant, Encuentro is an experience that anyone can learn from and appreciate in their faith journey, as it is truly enlightening,” Junior Jasmine Flores said. Encuentro is only offered in the summer, so if you don’t have the chance to experience it this summer, you have one more chance in 2019. “We are currently looking for sustainable resources to see if we can continue this program for further years to come,” Chavez said.    Students who are interested should meet the following criteria: – Current full-time OLLU student with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA. – Has completed at least 12 credit hours at OLLU. – Plans to enroll in classes at OLLU in Fall 2018. – Demonstrated commitment to the Christian faith. – Personal involvement in service/ministry activities or faith deepening activities. – Desire to share personal experiences and knowledge with fellow mentors and high school participants. – Able to fully participate in mentor training from June 6 through June 9, 2018 and the high school institute from June 10 through June 16, 2018.   For more information about Encuentro, contact Roxanna Chavez, in Elliott House room 103, email or call 210-528-7171. Application packets can be picked up from the Center for Service-Learning and Volunteerism located in Worden room 23 or Mission and Ministry located in the Elliott House. The deadline to submit an application is February 15, 2018 and can be dropped off with Roxanna Chavez in Elliott House room 103. Photo Courtesy of Abel Carrillo
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