A Mission Trip to Milwaukee: Alive In You
Last week, Fr. Bolek and 22 parishioners (mostly high school students) travelled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to serve those in need. The program was called “Alive In You,” and it is run as a Catholic Mission Trip. Here are few reflections from some of those who attended.
Greg Urbanc (incoming freshman in college)
My experience at Alive In You was a great one. Being a high school graduate among a bunch of youth, many of whom hadn’t even seen a glimpse of high school yet, concerned me. It had me worrying that I wouldn’t be able to get as much out of the camp because most of the material would be aimed at a younger age group. Contrary to my thoughts, the camp had so much material to learn from, even for someone my age. We had “Witness Talks” daily, and each one taught huge life lessons that were wrapped in life stories of young adults who struggled in their own ways. The camp also offered daily Adoration and Mass, and it was great to be able to pray in the presence of God to start each day. For our service, we worked at the Holy Hill Basilica. We did simple tasks such as painting, pulling weeds, and mulching and it was a blessing to be able to serve at a site with such a strong connection to the Catholic faith, and I truly enjoyed working there. By far, my favorite part of the experience was the Friday night session. We had confessions and the option to go talk to one of the camp staff members about anything we wanted to talk about. Before this, I was struggling in certain parts of my faith and some specific beliefs of the Catholic Church. The Holy Spirit guided me to a staff member who had been through a similar experience that I was going through, and he helped answer some of my questions and gave great advice. It was exactly what I was needing. God found a way to speak to me through Alive In You, and it was an unforgettable experience.
Margret Shane (incoming freshman in high school)
The Alive In You service camp that I went on this past week was an experience that I will never forget. Next year I will be a Freshman at Peoria Notre Dame High School, and as much as I am looking forward to it, and excited for the new adventure, I know that many things will be different from the small, familiar world and that I enjoyed in middle school at St. Jude. This camp and the memories and source of grace that it was for me is something that I hope will be a source of courage for me in the next four years. The entire camp was completely Christ-centered, and it was so inspiring to see teens my age on fire for Christ and for their Faith. The many talks and songs, and most importantly the opportunity for daily Mass and Adoration, enabled me focus on Jesus and the Trinity more than ever before.
The mission service that we did was centered around the people that we served. It was hard work, but I loved it all the same! Our leaders always made sure that we had fun, both at the work sites and at the school where we were staying during the week that we were there. The atmosphere throughout our time at camp was prayerful, yet at the same time so much fun. I enjoyed getting to know more teens and adults (our chaperones) from my own parish as well as St. Mark’s, who travelled with us to camp. Helping each other grow in our shared Catholic faith through developing friendships was beautiful and uplifting for me. I loved the fact that we all bonded and got to know each other in a Catholic environment! After my week at camp I realize on a deeper level that our faith is the center of everything, and saw that I share that with the 250 other teens who were at this camp, and the hundreds more that went to these camps all over the country.
This reflection doesn’t even begin to summarize the beauty and joy that I experienced at the Alive In You camp. The peace of heart I had at camp and when I returned home was amazing. My favorite part was bonding with my group from St. Jude and St. Mark’s through our work, prayer, and play. Going into high school next month, this was the perfect opportunity to refocus on and rededicate myself as a newly-Confirmed Catholic to Christ so that I don’t lose sight of Him in this next chapter of my life.
Joe Beaudry (adult chaperone)
The St. Jude teens were alive in Christ last week in Wisconsin. Drawing near to God in daily Mass and Adoration, the teens then went out to practice their faith in action. Their assigned work site was the beautiful Holy Hill Basilica, where they worked together cleaning in and around the church, landscaping the grounds, applying a much-needed shiny new black coat of paint to outside railings, pulling weeds, picking up trash, and various other tasks. Working with joyful spirits, many visitors stopped to ask the teens where they were from and to commend them on their service. They represented St. Jude and the Peoria diocese extremely well! Their energy seemed to be endless, as after long days of working they joined hundreds of other teens from states ranging from Arkansas to Michigan for games, competitions, praise, and fellowship led by the very talented Christian rock band. Drawing inspiration from the many witness talks given by the Alive In You staff, the teens wrapped up each day with personal reflection and time together as a parish group to build their relationships and share their thoughts with each other. It was a week of service, faith, fun, and friendship, and a week that will help fuel them on their journey with Christ.