By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
While many students were having fun in the sun or simply taking a needed break from the rigors of academic life, numerous students in the Archdiocese of Louisville dedicated their spring break to assisting people in need.
For the third consecutive year, St. Michael Church in Jeffersontown partnered with Meade County Catholic Youth Ministries to serve people in the hills of Appalachia.
Twenty-three high school students and adults from St. Michael and four parishes in Meade County — St. John the Apostle in Brandenburg, Ky., St. Martin of Tours in Flaherty, Ky., St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi in Payneville, Ky., and St. Theresa in Rhodelia, Ky. — worked at the Father Beiting Appalachian Mission Center in Louisa, Ky., April 6-11.
The group spent the week rebuilding homes and attending daily Mass, Aaron Frazita, coordinator of youth ministry at St. Michael, said in a phone interview.
Teams of students worked at three work sites. One group installed new interior doors in a home that had been flooded.
Another group constructed front and back porches with steps on a home. The steps will help future groups gain entry to complete the interior work on the home. The final group installed subflooring in a trailer where the flooring was rotting, Frazita said.
The group of young people and adults also visited with clients of the Appalachian Mission Center on April 8.
Frazita said the group spent a lot of time discussing how to respond to people living in poverty.
“A lot of times relationships are just as important as the home repairs,” he said. “A lot (of the participants) saw it as a week to live out our faith and that we are called to help serve other people.”
This experience was shared by a team of 30 students and adults from St. Paul, Incarnation and St. Lawrence churches in Southwest Louisville. They traveled to Milwaukee, Wis., April 6 to 11 to work with the Capuchin Franciscans and Catholic Charities of Milwaukee.
The group of youth and adults worked with two ministries supported by the Capuchin Franciscans — House of Peace and St. Ben’s Community Meal.
At House of Peace, the group organized the food pantry and clothing donation centers.
At St. Ben’s Community Meal, a soup kitchen that serves dinner six nights a week, the youth and adults dined with the other guests.
Ryan Ecken, coordinator of youth ministry at St. Lawrence, noted that the theme of the trip came from the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew which says: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
“The theme was ‘being Christ for others, seeing Christ in others.’ They latched on to that Scripture passage and it really had an effect on them. They remembered it,” Ecken said in a phone interview.
Ecken noted that the three youth groups, composed of students from eighth- to 12th-grade, were able to step outside of themselves to serve others.
“By the end of the trip, it wasn’t three parishes, but one large group searching for Christ and being Christ for others,” he said.
Fifteen students from Presentation Academy also participated in a service trip during their spring break. The students, along with six adults, traveled to Auxier, Ky., April 5-8 to work with Hand in Hand Ministries.
Teams of students served at four different sites removing and replacing flooring, ceiling tiles and drywall, securing soffits and other work, a news release from the school said.
They also replaced a porch and added a 38-foot ramp, painted various rooms and repaired roofing, the release said.
On April 6, the Presentation group visited the Van Lear Hollow Historical Society to learn more about the area. The following day, representatives from Hand in Hand Ministries, including Julie Haynes, the Auxier Center’s assistant director and Lisa Francis, a 2003 Presentation graduate, spoke about Hand in Hand’s ministry in Auxier, the release said.
Four other schools — St. Gabriel School, Sacred Heart Academy, Assumption High School and St. Agnes School — also volunteered with Hand in Hand Ministries to serve others on their spring break, according to Hand in Hand.