Teens participate in week of community service through Archdiocese of Newark camp

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NEWARK, NJ — Rather than hitting the beach or hanging out with friends, 45 teens from throughout North Jersey and Pennsylvania, including from Bloomfield and Newark, devoted part of their summer vacation to completing a range of community service projects for a unique camp offered by the Archdiocese of Newark’s Office for Youth & Young Adult Ministry during the last week of July.

This year’s Summer Service Week saw the high school–aged youth volunteering at different archdiocesan sites that required assistance, such as St. Rose of Lima Church in Newark, St. Leo’s School in Elmwood Park, St. Michael Convent in Newark and Sacred Heart Church in Bloomfield. At many of those locations, the teenagers swept floors, painted walls, landscaped yards, removed garbage and performed other much-needed upkeep. They also packed meals, inventoried food and sorted clothes for people in need at St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen in Newark and the Father English Consumer Choice Food Pantry in Paterson. Some even got the chance to create birdhouses for Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover, which will display them as a way of comforting mourners with God’s creatures.

After each day of work, the teens returned to the St. John Paul II Youth Retreat Center in Kearny to discuss their experiences. On two occasions, Auxiliary Bishops Gregory J. Studerus and Michael A. Saporito met the youth, leading them in prayer.

“We’re living in a world where it’s all about ‘me,’ but the Summer Service Week is the complete opposite of that,” said Rich Donovan, the youth office’s associate director for events and training, who pointed out that the experience was particularly eye-opening for this year’s participants because none had ever joined the camp before. “By helping others, these teens went on a journey that has made them view the world and themselves differently. They appreciate things more. Instead of going in the fridge and complaining that there’s nothing to eat, they’ll think about the people they made food for who really don’t have anything. And hopefully that will inspire them to look into how they can serve their own communities.”

Photos Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Newark