Chaminade students return from service trip to rural West Virginia

The Island Now
(Photo courtesy of Chaminade High School)

Six Chaminade High School students have completed a week of service in rural West Virginia.

(Photo courtesy of Chaminade High School)

Rising Chaminade seniors Aidan Creeron, of Garden City; Kristijan Barnjak, of Seaford; Patrick Golle, of Greenlawn; Charlie Gorton, of Long Beach; James Pham, of Ronkonkoma; Dylan Richardson, of Dix Hills; and Ryan Schmidt, of Garden City, spent a week at Nazareth Farm in Doddridge County, W. Va. – a Catholic retreat program intended to improve the lives of neighbors in the region and uplift the spirits of participants.

Nazareth Farm aims to awaken the Gospel message through community, simplicity, prayer, and service.  Retreatants address substandard living conditions in the local region by repairing homes and building friendships.  They are also asked to keep their mobile devices off and, instead, connect to the moments and the people with whom they worked.  

“People of all walks of life, when spending their week at Nazareth Farm, come to take those messages to heart,” Golle said.  “The experience impacted me in many ways.  Nazareth Farm can change the lives of so many people, not only in the Appalachian community it serves, but those of the volunteers, as well.”

(Photo courtesy of Chaminade High School)

Chaminade students work with others from California, Indiana, and Ohio who also traveled to West Virginia.

“God placed these volunteers in my life for a reason,” he said, “and they have shaped me into a very different person than I was first arriving at Nazareth Farm.”

Brothers Patrick Sarsfield, S.M. and Peter Sennert, S.M. served as trip moderators.  They were with students repairing roofs, painting, and at one home, constructing a wheelchair ramp.  Michael Black ’14 first traveled to Nazareth Farm last year and is now on the staff.

“There is a tendency to think of poverty as an abstraction or as something that exists in far off parts of the world,” Bro. Patrick said.  “A person can’t share a meal, hold hands and pray with them, or sit on their front porches and pass the time with them and ever view poverty the same way. Nazareth Farm helps our students recognize that we all share a common dignity as children of God, redeemed by Christ.”

Chaminade students first began traveling to Nazareth Farm in the summer of 2004.

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