Newark, NJ – Forty-five teenagers from North Jersey and Pennsylvania have dedicated part of their summer vacation to completing a series of community service projects for a one-time camp offered by the Archdiocese Office of Newark for youth and young adult ministry during the last week of July.
This year’s Summer Service Week saw high school youth volunteering at different Archdiocesan sites that needed help, such as St. Rose of Lima Church in Newark, St. Leo School in Elmwood Park, St. Michael’s Convent in Newark and Sacred Heart Church in Bloomfield. In many of these places, the teenagers swept the floors, painted the walls, landscaped the yards, removed the trash and did other much-needed maintenance work. They also packed meals, inventoried food and sorted clothes for those in need at St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen in Newark and the Father English Consumer Choice Food Pantry in Paterson. Some have even had the good fortune to create birdhouses for Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover, which will display them as a way to comfort mourners with God’s creatures.
After each day of work, the teenagers returned to the St. John Paul II Youth Retreat Center in Kearny to discuss their experiences.
“We live in a world where it’s all about ‘me,’ but the summer service week is just the opposite,” said Rich Donovan, associate director of events and training for the Youth Bureau, who pointed out that the experience was particularly eye-opening for this year’s participants as none had ever joined the camp before. “By helping others, these teenagers embarked on a journey that made them see the world and themselves differently. They appreciate things more. Instead of going to the fridge and complaining that there’s nothing to eat, they’ll think about the people they made food for who really have nothing. And I hope it inspires them to look at how they can serve their own communities.
For more information on the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, visit https://www.newarkoym.com/.
Photos courtesy of the Archdiocese of Newark