This summer, youth in Provincial ministries are living out the Franciscan value of service to the poor. Instead of reveling in a summer of leisure, they are using their many talents to aid those less fortunate at locations throughout the country and the world.
Members of the youth ministry at St. Mary’s Church in Pompton Lakes, whereFrank Sevola, OFM, is pastor, have been on two service trips so far this summer.
The first was a weekend trip to the Father English Community Center in Paterson, from July 18 to 21. Each day, four teenaged volunteers served as assistant counselors at the center’s summer camp for elementary school-aged children. A few also assisted at Bob and Carol’s Clothing Boutique and Food Pantry, which serves more than 2,900 families a month, according to the center’s website.
In addition, seven teens and two adult chaperones served at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia from July 25 to 29. The inn has been serving the impoverished of the Kensington neighborhood for more than 30 years. The volunteers from St. Mary’s helped to cook and serve meals and to run the St. Benedict Thrift Shop. John Darcey, director of senior high ministry at St. Mary’s, called the week at the inn “a life-changing experience.”
Later this month, a group of teenagers will be spending a week of service at Nazareth Farm in Doddridge County, W.Va.
Christ the King Preparatory School in Newark, where Gregory Gebbia, OFM, is associate principal, and Robert Sandoz, OFM, is president, offered its first-ever mission trip in July. A group of 12 students and two chaperones traveled to the Mustard Seed Community in Diriamba, Nicaragua, which provides housing and medical care to disabled children.
In addition to playing with the children, whose ages range from six months to 16 years, the Christ the King students made significant progress in building a new playground. According to the school’s website, one student, when urged to take a break from the hard labor, replied, “I’m not breaking until these children have a playground of their own.”
As the youth group at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, where Daniel McLellan, OFM, is pastor, demonstrates, one doesn’t have to travel far to find service opportunities. Its annual Mission Week Durham, held from July 18 to 22, focused on five agencies in the local community.
The teens met at the church at 8:30 every morning to carpool to a different location. Despite the early hours, at least 16 volunteers showed up every day, and a total of 21 participated throughout the week. Their projects included cleaning and organizing donations at Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army store, and the Bargain Center for Durham Rescue Mission, washing donated cars at Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, and visiting with the elderly at Spring Arbor Assisted Living Community.
The recent Immaculate Conception parish bulletin called the week “a great success.”
At nearby St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh, where Mark Reamer, OFM, is pastor, members of the youth delegation volunteered at St. Francis Inn from June 27 to July 1. This was the group’s first visit to the inn since 2006.
In a recent post on the Raleigh parish’s blog, Trevor Thompson, director of pastoral ministries, said that the most rewarding aspect of the trip for the youth volunteers was talking with the guests at the inn and listening to their incredible stories: “We all left with a feeling that we received as much as we gave.”
— Vicky Wolak is a summer intern in the Province’s Communications Office.
Editor’s note: The Communications Office welcomes news of youth ministry activities throughout the Province.