During the last week of June, a group of about 80 students and their chaperones headed on a long bus journey to South Carolina to serve with the Catholic HEART Workcamp (CHWC). The camps have been around for nearly 30 years, with students from across the country serving on weeklong mission trips during the summer months.
Mike Young is the Director of Christian Formation/Theology at Quincy Notre Dame and the CHWC liaison for the school. He says the mission of the CHWC experience is twofold.
“One, it’s about living out our faith through service and genuinely helping people who need it,” he says. “Secondly, it’s about growing and deepening our relationship with Jesus, and growing as disciples with Christ.”
The students had the opportunity to partake in various service projects throughout their week, depending upon their personal preferences and what was available to them. Some of these might include childcare, yard work, and painting.
There were also formation sessions and activities in the evening to support the students’ own faith journeys. These included various faith-building experiences, including Eucharistic Adoration and Reconciliation on one of the nights.
“It really is interesting how many times the night of adoration at CHWC is a turning point or deepening of their faith,” Mike says. “That’s a big night.”
Throughout the week, the students were given the chance to help others in practical ways, supporting the community in need. As a way of showing the students their own impact, community members joined them for the evening program to share how the work has helped their lives. Mike says this is one of the most significant moments each year for the students.
“That is very powerful,” he says. “There are lots of tears, lots of joy. It’s very important for the students to hear how they’ve impacted the community that week. It’s very powerful.”
A group of students from Quincy Notre Dame has been participating in this program for more than 20 years, going all the way back to the late ‘90s. The impact is also felt in the parish community as students return home, touched by their experiences and having grown spiritually.
“When you have students who have the opportunity to fall more deeply in love with our Lord, they’ll come back with a fire that is contagious and can spread to the parish and school community,” Mike says. “It can be very edifying for adults to see some young people really on fire for their faith, it gives them hope for the future. To see young people do that and come back excited, again, it’s very impactful — living out the faith with enthusiasm.”