It was a joy to have our Confirmandi students present at the Sunday 10 am Mass on August 1st, as they were beginning their week-long “ServiceWorX” program. For the next five days, they were bused to different locations for experiencing a variety of community services. They went to various sites such as CAC Somerset County in New Brunswick, Middlesex County Conservation area, Grow a Row at Milford Farm, Raritan Valley YMCA and Ronald Mc Donald House in New Brunswick.
Each day they would return and process their experiences in the light of the Social Teachings of the church based on the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. Here’s one of the emails we received after our students did a day of harvesting corn at the Milford farm (an hour by bus from here):
“Hello Awesome Volunteers,
I want to thank you again for joining us at our Milford farm this morning to harvest corn. In the couple of hours you spent in the fields, your team harvested more than 8,000 pounds of corn. This will provide nearly 32,000 servings of fresh produce for so many of our neighbors struggling with food insecurity. We couldn’t have done it without all your help! We hope you had a great time and we look forward to seeing you back in the fields.”
This is the kind of immersion experiences that our students had, followed by reflection on them each day for a whole week. It was supervised by Dee Nann, our Parish Faith Formation Director, and conducted by leaders and volunteers from the Center for Faith Justice (CFJ), with whom St. Matthias has a long-standing partnership. I am very grateful to Arien Yeddanapally, a parishioner and SMS alumnus and sophomore at Seton Hall University working with CFJ for the summer, Liam Myers from Milwaukee area and an M. Div candidate at Union Theological Seminary in NY, Lauren Borowick, a staff at CFJ, and Liz, a recent graduate of Sacred Heart University, also with CFJ for the summer.
On their concluding day, the students and the organizers came to our church, and conducted a prayer service. Eight of our youth shared their experiences. It was a testimony that touched me as well as the parents of the Confirmandi who too were present. Their testimony showed me clearly that real life experience and processing that experience are vital for forming one’s faith. I am very grateful to the parents who supported and willingly paid for the expenses for this project which was partially subsidized by the parish.
I have asked our young people to write down their testimonies so that the rest of our parishioners can read about what they gained and feel happy and confident that these vibrant youth will carry forward our precious Faith and Tradition here at St. Matthias.
Happy Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal