BERSI: Travel-Based Service and Immersion Program

Led by CM faculty and staff, each program offers students a profound opportunity to immerse themselves in a global community, build meaningful relationships with their fellow trip members and the people of their host community, while also reflecting on the role of faith and God in their life.

Enlivened by the spirit of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers, each trip will cultivate a reflective faith-sharing community amongst students, and include elements of education and advocacy for peace, social justice, global awareness, and stewardship. The program empowers our students to put their faith-in-action, and to develop the sense of compassion and responsibility that is essential to stand in solidarity with those marginalized by poverty and injustice.  

If you have any question related to the BERSI program, please contact Mr. Kevin Durazo, Director of Campus Ministry, at KevinDurazo@CatholicMemorial.org.

BERSI 2017–2018

List of 5 items.

  • Brownsville, TX

    Open To: All high school students
    Date: November 3 – 10, 2018
    Theme: Solidarity with those marginalized by poverty and injustice; the immigrant experience.
  • Washington, D.C.

    Open To: All high school students
    Date: January 17–19, 2019
    Theme: Sanctity of Life — March for Life
  • Philadelphia, PA

    Open To: Grades 8–10
    Date: February 19–21, 2019 (During February break)
    Theme: Poverty and Hunger in America
  • Lima, Peru

    Open To: Grades 10–12
    Date: February 19–26, 2019 (During February break)
    Theme: Solidarity with those marginalized by poverty and injustice
  • Wyoming (Yellowstone & Grand Tetons)

    Open To: Grades 7, 8, and 9
    Date: June 15–21, 2019
    Theme: Care for the Earth, stewardship

Previous Years

List of 8 items.

  • Lima, Peru

    Peru has been a signature BERSI trip since it was one of the first international destinations in 2006. Students and faculty members see the disparity within the city by experiencing some beautiful, wealthy Peruvian neighborhoods before diving in to explore the "underside" of Lima, including the pueblo jovenes or "young towns" on the desert outskirts of Lima. This life-changing trip is intended to introduce students and faculty to the serious problems and issues that affect the lives of the poor in the Third World including illiteracy, malnutrition, and disease as they effect an urban population. Students spend several days constructing housing at the Christian Brother school mission site, Fe y Alegria 26. Time is also spent volunteering at the inspiring clinic of Dr. Tony Lazarro who treats the severely afflicted sons and daughters of the poorest of the poor. The group visits Villa El Salvador, one of the largest and best-established base Christian communities in Latin America. In Villa, they work at a comedor community kitchen, visit a clinic, and volunteer at a Church-run day-care center. In addition, the group will also experience a full day at the Pachamamac archeological dig. Throughout the trip, the group enjoys the food and culture of indigenous Peruvians.
     
  • Beijing, Shanghai and Wuxi, China

    Global Perspectives from Asia
    In 2013 the BERSI program brought Catholic Memorial School’s first student group to the People’s Republic of China. The group flew to Shanghai, China’s largest city. With a population of over 23,000,000 people, Shanghai is considered the largest city (proper by population) in the world. Situated on the estuary of the Yangtze River, it serves as the most influential economic, financial, international trade, cultural, science and technology center in Eastern China. The student explored the Bund, Nanjing Road, the Museum and the Yuyuan Garden. In addition to learning about the language, culture, art, architecture, and history (and, yes, cuisine) of Shanghai, the group will travelled by high-speed rail to the city of Wuxi, China in order to visit CM’s partner school, the Wuxi Foreign Language School. While in Wuxi, students stayed in homestays for three nights with the families of students either studying at CM or soon-to-be studying at CM.
  • Medjugorje, Bosnia

    A unique taste of Europe is experienced on this BERSI pilgrimage to Bosnia and Croatia.  The flight into Dubrovnik allows for one night to be spent in the historic, walled city that George Bernard Shaw referred to as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”  The trek then leads down the coastline and into Medjugorje where our students live for the week with Ivan, one of six visionaries who have daily apparitions of the Virgin Mary.  The time in Bosnia includes a tour of Podbrdo (Apparition Hill) where the Blessed Mother first appeared to the visionaries, and attendance at a seven language Mass at St. James Church.  The group stays at Latta’s Castle, a residence whose doors are always open for priests and travelers.  Students serve at Cenacolo, a community of 900 addicts run by the Sisters of Charity, which boasts a 95% cure rate, and of course we take some time to relax at a beautiful beach resort and taste authentic Bosnian cuisine.
  • San Salvador, El Salvador

    The Poor and Marginalized of Latin America
    By journeying to El Salvador, BERSI participants immerse themselves in the history, culture, faith, and current community based projects of this small Latin American country.  Between soccer games with the locals, we learn about the legacy of the church heroes and martyrs like Archbishop Romero, Fr. Rutilio Grande, and others, by meeting Salvadorans who continue their work today.  Some days are spent playing games and singing songs with children from a local pre-school that, in addition to a good education, also provides meals and health and sanitary needs for children who otherwise may not have those necessities.  We eat at a restaurant that employs local families to teach skills in catering and restaurant management in order to deter them from getting involved in gangs and organized crime, and participate in activities alongside various women’s microenterprise cooperatives involved in sewing, cooking, and community nutritional projects to find sustainable and just ways to earn an income and support their families, while improving their communities.  The group travels to the mountains of El Salvador to see signs of the recent war in the parts of the country that experienced heavy conflict and learn firsthand about the community’s efforts to rebuild, heal, and move forward together. 
  • Eastern Europe - Poland, Czech Republic, Germany

    A comprehensive tour of Eastern Europe including Krakow, Poland, the city of Prague in the Czech Republic and the German city of Berlin, Catholic Memorial students and staff explore the history, theology, and unique culture of these areas as they relate to World War II, the Berlin airlift, and the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. This BERSI experience includes a visit to the Berlin Wall, Luftwaffe Headquarters, Brandenburg Gate, the old royal gardens at Lustgarten, and some of the best museums in the world. In Poland we visit the concentration camp at Auschwitz, a Roman Catholic seminary, and a Church-run secondary school. In the Czech Republic the group explores “Jewish Prague” as well as Karlstejn and Konopiste Castles, as well as different facets of life in modern Eastern Europe including a professional hockey game, art museums, and cultural events.
     
  • Rome, Italy

    This European BERSI trip is centered upon the historic, religious, and cultural significance of Rome, Italy. Students visit the Roman Coliseum, the Ancient Forum, and the Catacombs as well as the Basilica de Santa Maria del Popolo.  Students experience a privileged, intimate tour of Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as a one-day excursion to Assisi, the home of St. Francis. Connecting the historical and religious exploration of Rome will be a penetrating look at the modern-day issues that face Rome and many parts of Europe.  Thus, students also engage in a volunteer project as part of this trip at the Christian Brother’s sponsored orphanage, Boy’s Town of Italy, and  at the Jesuit Refugee Service and the John Felice Rome Center sponsored by Caritas International.
     
  • Puerto Rico

    This BERSI trip allows CM faculty members and students an opportunity to explore the real Puerto Rico and to experience the island’s culture, music, cuisine, beaches, art and most importantly: its people. From Logan International Airport, the group flies into San Juan’s Isla Verde Airport before we travel south through the central mountains to La Parguera, a coastal village famous for its bioluminescent bay to explore this rare marine environment with the help of Dr. Sandra Moya of the University of Puerto Rico. The itinerary includes: visiting Hacienda Buena Vista, a coffee plantation on the outskirts of Ponce, meeting with a well-known advocate for human rights and Puerto Rican statehood, and exploring the caves of Camuy and the world’s third longest underground river.  Daytrips include visits to the radio telescopes in Arecibo, the oldest Carmelite monastery in the Americas and exploration of the forts, churches and catacombs of colonial San Juan. The group visits the El Yunque Rain Forest, and spends a day at a Puerto Rican high school: Academia Perpetuo Socorro
  • Montreal, Quebec

    Catholic Memorial students spend a week experiencing the French influence through food, language, and culture in Quebec.  For four days, we get to know Montreal on 
    guided tours of Old City and Montreal’s Underground City, as well as connecting with local students from the Royal West Academy whose Social Justice committee shed light on some of the issues that they address around town.  Experience four ecosystems at once inside the city’s Biodome, and visit Olympic Stadium, home to the 1976 Summer Games.  The last three days are spent in and around Quebec City, including rides along the Beaupre Coast and a stop at Montmorency Falls (at 270 ft, they stand 100 ft higher than Niagara Falls).  After a long day, dinner at the “Sugar Shack” allows our BERSI participants to feel like a French-Canadian logger, immersed in traditional feasting, songs, games, and dancing.

About Us

Catholic Memorial, the Christian Brothers School of Boston, prepares boys for college, manhood and a world full of unknown challenges, ambiguity and complex problems and the importance of relationships.

CATHOLIC MEMORIAL SCHOOL

235 Baker Street
West Roxbury, Massachusetts 02132
Phone: 617-469-8000
Fax: 617-325-0888