Students Repair Homes, Spread Kindness During Annual Appalachian Mission Trip
At the end of June, Campus Ministry took 40 Central Catholic students and 40 Oakland Catholic students to Webster Springs, W.Va. For one week.
Submitted by Jarrod Kinkley, Assistant Director of Lasallian Ministry
The mission of Central Catholic to form our students into young men of faith, scholarship, and service is not suspended for the summer. There are many Lasallian Ministry programs and events throughout the summer in which our students can further their formation to become the faith-filled servant leaders of tomorrow. An example of this was the third annual Appalachian service trip.
At the end of June, Campus Ministry took 40 Central Catholic students and 40 Oakland Catholic students to Webster Springs, W.Va. For one week. The community of students, teachers, and parents repaired homes, built retaining walls and explored the backroads of rural West Virginia.
More importantly, all participants were pushed to go beyond surface level acts of service. The pastor of the Methodist church, where the group stayed, welcomed everyone at the beginning of the week and said: “You’re going out to work on homes but really you’re going out to work on hearts.”
With that sentiment setting the tone for the week, the group not only repaired homes but also interacted with the homeowners and learned their stories. It is easy to build a retaining wall but it is more meaningful to build a bridge between two people of vastly different backgrounds, stories, and stations in life. The group strove to better understand the people of Webster Springs and their stories of how they got to be where they are. Many of the participants struggled with the stories they heard from the homeowners – stories of poverty, unemployment, death, and loneliness. But equally, students were often left in awe of the faith that the homeowners have – faith that things will be better, that God is with them, and faith in the goodness of others.
In the end, the group began to understand that while building a wheelchair ramp or repairing a roof are good things; the acts are not what really matters. What matters is that each person remain open to a sense of true compassion and a mentality of service.