Engineering Student On a Mission
James Roche will be traveling with 10 other Catholic University students to Kingston, Jamaica, this May as part of a mission trip run by Brother Jim Moore, associate campus minister for justice and missions. It will be his second trip since transferring to Catholic University in fall 2012.
Upon arrival in Kingston, Roche hopes to donate $29,000 to Bethlehem House, a residential community for disabled children.
“I am raising the money in honor of my sister, Catie, who was 29 when she passed away in November,” says Roche.
This amounts to $1,000 for each year of Catie’s life. She suffered from cerebral palsy and intractable seizure disorder, a condition that took a toll on her whole family, says Roche.
“Catie taught me a lot. Especially to not complain and always be tough. I have to thank my parents for raising us and making it look so easy. Now I know how hard it really was.”
When Roche and fellow students first traveled to Kingston last spring, Brother Jim recalls being inspired by Roche’s connection to the children.
“He demonstrated an ability to work with diverse personalities and foster positive relationships with his peers, his supervisors, and with those to whom he ministered, especially the disabled children,” notes Brother Jim.
“We were impressed with his energy, commitment, and joyfulness in his service. Needless to say, he was a natural pick as a student leader for this year’s summer trip to Jamaica.”
Bethlehem House, which opened in 2001, is run by Missionaries of the Poor. The organization has five houses throughout Jamaica and with no government funding it relies on volunteers, seminarians, and missionaries like those from CUA to stay in service. The Kingston location serves about 60 children, many of whom are orphaned. Their disorders range from speech impediments to severe handicap, including cerebral palsy.
Roche says that while at Bethlehem House, the CUA students play games with the children, do arts and crafts, and tell stories to those who are very ill and unable to move. He recalls that it is hard to prepare for these challenging experiences. Patience – a quality he learned from his sister Catie – is critical, he says.
CUA students are only allowed to participate in one mission trip, due to the rising interest among the students, and limited spots available. However, because of Roche’s caring and compassionate nature, Brother Jim says he was willing to make an exception.
As a leader for the upcoming trip, Roche hopes to be a role model for his fellow students. He will be available if any of them need to talk, providing advice to students if they encounter any difficulties. The group has met a few times in anticipation of the trip, participating in volunteering and bonding activities.
Looking forward to going back for a second time, Roche says he feels better prepared since he knows what to expect. As a result, he hopes he can give back even more to the children at Bethlehem House.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the same people we served last year and how they have grown and changed. When we got there last year, everyone we worked with was so excited to see us,” Roche explains.
With a few months left before the trip, he has already raised $12,000.
“Bethlehem House has hardly anything. Whether it is food, clothes, or medical supplies I know they can use the money.”
Reflecting on last year’s trip, Roche notes, “Just being in the presence of these people, is giving back to them and I love it. I will keep this in mind when I go back this summer.”
For more information about making a donation, email Roche at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Degree: Mechanical engineering, 2016
Favorite class: Thermo Dynamics. “It’s a lot of theory about energy and also how engines and heaters work.”
Favorite thing to do: “I love exploring D.C. and going into the city to see things I haven’t, although my favorite place is the Lincoln Memorial.”
Plans after graduation: “I would like to move somewhere warm. That would be nice.”