Over the course of five days, the teens labored through more than two dozen different projects ranging from painting and cleaning to heavy-duty landscaping – all in an effort to give St. Nicholas some much-needed tender loving care. After an exhausting week, the crew trekked 12 blocks to Saint John’s University for the Steubenville NYC Catholic Conference where they spent the last three days of their trip. Steubenville is a vibrant youth conference mixing prolific speakers, Mass, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with an electric atmosphere of nearly 2,000 Catholic teens. It was a beautiful end to an amazing trip.

Below are reflections – diary entries – from our six high school seniors.

Day One: “The first day, we drove up, had fun, and were told how it would go down!  Even though I was familiar with most faces, I still met new ones.” – Brad Schaefer

Day Two: “Monday was so much fun, and it felt good to get the week started while getting to know the staff at St. Nicholas of Tolentine. It was a busy start with all of us doing different jobs and working hard!” – Kate Buzin

Day Three: “On Tuesday, we focused on completing our jobs which included painting, smashing cabinets, cleaning, and organizing different rooms. The big project of the day was painting a hallway, a bathroom and a full kitchen. After completing our morning/afternoon jobs we then put in a full team effort from 7pm to 12am to finish up the painting!” – Liam Galligan

Day Four: “We took a break from our work today, and went to New York City. We walked around Times Square, and went to a beautiful daily Mass at St Patrick's cathedral. After Mass, I lit a candle in my dad's honor and said a prayer by myself. After that, my group trekked 20 blocks down to Dylan's Candy Bar. We ate lunch at Johnny Rockets, and walked around Central Park.”  – Cara Grim

Day Five: “Thursday was our last work day at St. Nicholas of Tolentine. On the whole, we completed about 24 projects at the parish and made connections that will stay with us for years to come. I’m so thankful we could bring our teens to this beautiful place!” – Ryan Schwalm

Day Six: “On Friday, we headed down to St. John's University to get our Steubenville weekend started. At the arena our crew got the party started at the front of the stage singing and dancing. Once things settled down we were introduced to the weekend speakers, this year's host was Bob Rice and the theme was ‘Elevated’ based around Revelations, 21:5.”  – Rhianna Liriano

Day Seven: “Saturday was filled with inspiring talks and the final Adoration. The music, the emotions, and the palpable energy that radiated off the monstrance was moving and inspiring. Our group is so close with one another and it was beautiful to see everyone comforting each other.”– Maiya Kervinen

Day Eight: “Today was a bittersweet ending…sweet, in the sense that we spent a weekend with thousands of people who love Jesus just as much as we do. But also bitter because it's our last day and soon we'd be heading home. Regardless, I left with new brothers and sisters in Christ.” – Rhianna Liriano

Saint Elizabeth Parish coordinates and chaperones a summer mission trip for its High School Youth Group annually. To learn more, contact Youth Ministry Coordinator, Ryan Schwalm at 610-646-6534 x104 or rschwalm@stelizabethparish.org.

-Lisa Barbadora