WASHINGTON – After meeting a young homeless woman in her teens, Jay Davila was inspired to throw a pizza party in Franklin Square in downtown. He ordered a pile of boxes from Domino’s pizza along with water, snacks, and plates with the $200 he won — interestingly enough — through a Pizza Hut contest.
Davila, 25, took a video of the event and submitted it to the YouServe video contest, winning four tickets to see the pope celebrate Mass, along with a GoPro HERO4.
“It’s cool to get to go see the pope, but for me, I was more concerned with giving back and making a video that would touch people, I want people to be moved by the video and think more,” Davila said. “I’m all about getting people to think more.”
In anticipation of the Pope’s arrival here next week, the Archdiocese of Washington hosted YouServe, a contest that showcased acts of service paired with creativity in two minutes or less.
The three local winners were announced Tuesday, and each will receive four tickets to Wednesday’s papal Mass.
Becky Duncan of College Park, Md.; Davila of Alexandria, Va., and Monica Carranza of Silver Spring, Md., produced the three videos that came out on top. They will head to the lawn Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University of America with 25,000 others.
“I didn’t originally think of the video as a way of seeing the pope, because I didn’t expect to win,” Duncan, 60, a stay-at-home mom, said. “I only did it for reasons that would still be valid if we didn’t win, like the fun of being part of the collection of all the videos, that community. And then the video won, and that was just extra gravy.”
But Davila, who works for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, wasn’t as surprised to hear that he won.
“I already expected to win. I didn’t know how experienced other people are in making videos, but I’ve been making videos for two years,” Davila said.
The “Christ in the City” program that originated in Denver inspired Davila’s video. The program encourages people to acknowledge homeless people on the street with dignity, and as human beings.
“For me, it was more about giving back,” Davila said. “The pope is the head of the Catholic Church, and he has a great message and a lot of good things to say, but they are all things Jesus already said, things we can find in the scripture.”
Davila is now planning to feed homeless people at the end of every month when their food stamps are likely to run out, and he set up a GoFundMe account to raise money and garner support.
The third winner, Monica Carranza, 23, a student at University of Maryland College Park, submitted a video from a mission trip to El Salvador that she went on with youth ministry Tira La Red.
“We saw it online on Facebook, so we decided to enter,” Carranza said of her mission group. “I was actually really surprised. We didn’t really think we were going to win, but we were really surprised and really happy at the same time.”
Now that they’ve won the tickets, their main priority is getting to the Mass, which may be difficult with the expected traffic deadlock and overcrowded Metro.
“I’m trying to figure out how to get there,” Duncan said. “I think the Secret Service has gone insane. They are closing off things so tightly that even those of us who are supposed to get there can’t get in.”
Duncan’s approach to the video was to depict day-to-day life with small acts of service in display of one’s faith.
“I wanted to do very ordinary things and just make a point of them being part of the way an ordinary person lives out the love of God,” Duncan said.
She was surprised more videos didn’t follow a similar theme, but she also didn’t have the opportunity to see all of the more than 50 submissions as she thought she would.
“I thought they were going to put up all the videos,” Duncan said. “I thought by now there would be 50 up. I don’t know if they are eventually going to put them up.”
But for the winners, even more than winning tickets to see the pope and a choice of either an iPad Air 2 or a GoPro HERO4, was the sense of accomplishment, and the message they sent to others.
“My family and friends were all super proud,” Davila said. “A lot of people were like, ‘Wow, I almost got a little teary from the video.’ And I was like ‘good.’ I was trying to get people to cry.”
Reach reporter Heather Khalifa at [email protected] or 202-408-1488. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.