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Youth ministry event mixes prayer, service, fun

On Good Friday, many of our students took part in one of two Food Fast/Shantytown experiences held at St. Mary’s of the Knobs and Holy Family. The events were planned by the parishes’ youth ministry and included an overnight experience of prayer, fasting, service and sleeping in cardboard boxes. At St. Mary of the Knobs, which included youth from St. Mary Navilleton and St. John Starlight, students kept a prayer vigil in the church, prayed the outdoor Stations of the Cross, prepared food to deliver to Louisville homeless people, and put candy in Easter eggs for the parish Easter egg hunt. At Holy Family, the youth helped clean the church in preparation for Easter and on Saturday, helped clean the grounds and outbuildings at Mount Saint Francis.

Youth from St. Mary of the Knobs, St. Mary Navilleton, and St. John Starlight built a shantytown from cardboard boxes in order to experience the plight of the homeless.

Junior Sam Kruer, sophomores Brigid Welch and Nadia Brooks, and freshman Maria Popson were among those who took part in the St. Mary of the Knobs event. They helped build the outdoor Shantytown out of cardboard boxes and took part in the prayer and service activities at the church. They took turns in groups of four praying for one hour before the Blessed Sacrament in church, and they rotated in groups of four praying for an hour at the outdoor Stations of the Cross. The youth also donated, prepared the ingredients and assembled more than 200 burritos, wrapped and labeled with a prayerful note, to be delivered the next morning to the homeless. They then rested in the outdoor Shantytown, experiencing the cold conditions many homeless people often face.

The students said it was a challenge to fast, including overcoming the temptation to eat or to be short-tempered as they grew hungrier, but it was a good way to feel solidarity with those who may regularly go without.

Nadia said she was happy to be able to make food for people who might otherwise go hungry. Sleeping in a box outside in the cold was difficult too, but it also made her more aware of others’ needs.
Maria said she enjoyed being able to share the experiences of prayer and service with her friends, even though it was cold outside, and sleeping on cold, hard concrete was difficult.

Brigid said she appreciated being able to pray in adoration after assembling burritos for the homeless because it gave her a chance to reflect on the act of mercy they had just performed. She also enjoyed being able to pray the outdoor stations at night.

“It was super eye opening,” Brigid said. “I was excited to go home to my warm bed afterward, but some people don’t have that.”

Sam said he decided to attend because he had heard about the event last year from his friends. He said it was challenging staying up all night, but he was glad he went. He was among the small group of students who stayed the next morning to ride bicycles to deliver the burritos to the homeless, a ministry known as the Burrito Riders, something he had done before.

Taking part in Shantytown was fun because he got to spend time with friends, he said, but he also enjoyed “meeting some of the homeless when we delivered the burritos.”

Holy Family event focuses on fellowship, service

Junior Alli Conrad and sophomores Max Holman and Carlie Miiller were among those who attended the Holy Family event. Alli, Max, and Carlie said they were eager to attend this year’s event after having participated last year. They said the event was a good mix of service and fellowship with friends, allowing them to meet new people and spend time with those they already knew.

Friday evening, the group cleaned the church and the parking lot in preparation for Easter services, and some helped with a project for the ministry In Heaven’s Eyes. Afterward, they took part in various activities and built their Shantytown in the gym. The next morning, they went to Mount St. Francis to patch potholes and cracks in the pavement and cleaned out a barn.

Max said he thought the event was well planned and appreciated the balance between ‘friendship building and work. It’s a really good way to help out and get service and a really good social thing.”
Alli said she had fun doing service for others with her friends and staying overnight in a box, even if doing without food was somewhat challenging.

“I enjoyed sleeping in the boxes the most because it reminds me of camping, and it is very fun to make the boxes,” Alli said. “I learned that I am very lucky to have a house, so I don’t have to sleep in a box every night.”

Carlie said the fasting was not very difficult because she is used to fasting on Fridays, but the experience of sleeping in the Shantytown, even if it was inside this year due to the cold, made her more aware of her blessings.

“I felt more grateful for what I have at my house and for my family,” Carlie said. “I realized everything I should be thankful for.”

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