NEWARK, NJ – Rather than hitting the beach or hanging out with friends, 45 teenagers from Pennsylvania and North Jersey, including Cranford and Westfield, have dedicated part of their summer vacation to completing a range of community service projects for a camp offered by the Office of the Archdiocese 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 various 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 created birdhouses for the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover, which will display the birdhouses as a way to comfort mourners.
After each day of work, the teenagers returned to the St. John Paul II Youth Retreat Center in Kearny to discuss their experiences. Twice, Auxiliary Bishops Gregory J. Studerus and Michael A. Saporito met with the youth, leading them in prayer.
“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 the youth office for events and training, 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 is no nothing to eat, they’ll think about the people they’ve made food for who really have nothing, and hopefully that will inspire them to look at how they can serve their own communities.
Photos courtesy of the Archdiocese of Newark