By ELI WOODVINE
More than 30 youth joined seven adults from three parishes in the Archdiocese of Anchorage for a trip to St. Mary Church on Kodiak Island for a week-long service mission trip in June.
Adults and youth from Our Lady of the Angels Church in Kenai, St. Patrick Church in Anchorage and St. Andrew Church in Eagle River joined forces with Father Frank Reitter and youth from St. Mary in Kodiak.
The annual trip consisted of leadership workshops in the morning and service projects in the afternoon, concluding with Mass in the evening. During Mass, youth assisted as altar servers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, lectors and musicians.
During workshops the youth learned about effective leadership traits. The week started with a presentation from a medic from the U.S. Navy SEALs who spoke about leadership skills such as teamwork and communication. Youth put those to the test in team activities such as the orienteering session conducted by a Coast Guard officer at Fort Abercrombie. Participants also took the Myers-Briggs personality test and learned how people of different personalities can best work together.
Several service projects aimed at enhancing the beauty of St. Mary parish and school kept the group busy in the afternoons. One task included painting the inside of St. Mary Thrift Store. Father Reitter challenged the youth to paint the thrift store and restock it in three days time. The workers rose to the challenge. Another service project entailed improving and expanding the spiritual garden which last year’s group built. Clad in “Catholic Grown” t-shirts, the work crew expanded the rosary path, added signs with messages on which to reflect, created “how to pray the rosary” cards in three different languages (Spanish, English and Tagalog), and painted the garden benches.
During the ferry ride back to Homer, Deacon Kevin Woodvine asked several youth to name their best experiences on the trip.
“They all responded with a similar answer: meeting and working with other Catholics their own age,” Deacon Woodvine recalled.