Mission Trips Aid Ongoing Formation, Language Fluency

In March 2023, Saint Vincent Seminary began sending third year theologians to Santiago, Dominican Republic, to join and support ongoing medical missions through the ILAC Foundation and the Foundation Order of Malta. Misson ILAC, Institute for Latin American Concerns, has served the people in and around Santiago for the past 50 years, providing a variety of life-keeping and quality of life services.
The team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists and volunteers provides medical services to residents three times a year, and includes specialists in cardiology, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, gastroenterology, urology, emergency medicine, radiology, general surgery, plastic surgery, dentistry, and anesthesia. In a typical four-day mission, 800 or so patients are treated.
Saint Vincent seminarians have participated in the Missions for several purposes. First, in a pastoral sense to respond to residents’ personal and spiritual needs. Seminarians work with an ordained Catholic cleric in daily Liturgy, while sitting, talking and supporting patients as they receive life preserving medical services. Secondly, as the Spanish language is a second language for many of the seminarians, it serves as a method to increase their competencies in communication with natives. Finally, the missions have demonstrated meaningful responses to those in need.
Saint Vincent seminarians have the opportunity to participate in two missions each academic year, a fall and a winter mission. The missions are organized by two principal physicians, one from the local Washington Hospital in Washington, Pennsylvania, Dr. Frank Gaudio, and a Miami-based physician, Dr. Jorge Echenique. Dr. Lawrence Sutton, director of pre-theologian formation, and an ordained deacon for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, has been accompanying the men on these trips.