PITTSBURG — Catholic youth will be serving their neighbors in southeast Kansas for the next two weeks.
The youth and their team leaders are part of Prayer and Action which is a group which takes “in-country” mission trips. It is made up of high school students and team leaders — including a few seminary students.
“It was important to have it here because it brings another diocese program,” Father Clay Kimbro said. “It's cool the kids in Wichita will see and meet other kids living their faith from pittsburg, its good for our schools to interact too.”
Kimbro said St. Mother Teresa had said Christians can find their own “mission territories” in their own backyard who are in need or are lonely.
“I think Prayer in Action is an effort to serve our people right in our backyard and teach our kids that although other people in another country need help too, we have people here at home that need help too,” he said. “They are putting in effect the main two commandments, Love of God and Love of Neighbor in an active way by doing this.”
Prayer and Action only selects two parishes within the diocese, and this year is the first time Our Lady of Lourdes in Pittsburg was picked. After the parish was selected, a form went out to parishioners and others to sign-up for painting, cleaning, yard work and minor repairs of their home.
Director of Prayer in Action Amy Bergkamp said 26 applications were received and they hope to get as many homes taken care of in two weeks. Many of the parishioners also helped by donating tools for the group to use.
Teams have been working since Monday, with two homes already completed.
The benefit of having their yard work complete was not the only thing they received. Bergkamp said loneliness is an issue for many of the applicants, such as elderly. These people will have an opportunity to share their stories with youth, who she said can in return learn from.
Kimbro — who knows this first-hand, as he too was once in Prayer and Action — agreed and said students can learn to be a steward.
“Being a steward of God's gift given to you, prayer, hospitality, service and formation, I think we are accomplishing all of those here … that’s the heart of what Prayer of Action is doing here is taking care of what everyone else has as brothers and sisters of Christ,” he said.
Recent St. Elizabeth Ann Seton high school graduate Alexandra Holmes said helping out the community was humbling.
“It helps me be humble and understand other people do have less than me and there are ways I can help people,” she said.
Outside of taking care of homes in southeast Kansas, the students also have prayer times, mass and a few games here and there.
“We are grateful that they allowed us to be part of this parish for a few weeks,” Bergkamp said.
Kimbro said the two week event also “fosters silence,” by bringing them away from the screens and reflecting within, along with building a community with other students.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.