Each summer, hundreds of Pennsylvania Catholic teens volunteer a portion of their summer to restoring homes, distributing food and spending time with those in need.
Teens gather from the Commonwealth and beyond to dedicate their time to service and prayer at Catholic HEART Workcamp (CHWC). Providing various ministries at approximately fifty worksites per city, campers have aided hundreds in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Oil City.
The goal of CHWC is best expressed by their mission statement: “To share the love of Christ as we serve the neglected, brokenhearted and the marginalized in any way needed. Equally, to inspire participants to live as disciples of Christ through serving others as a way of life; and to foster the Catholic faith of each participant through the sacraments, prayer, and involvement in social service.”
A significant portion of the campers’ work consists of rebuilding and remodeling homes. Elderly residents who are not physically or financially able to provide upkeep are tremendously grateful for friendly campers who willingly step in to do whatever needs to be done. Some campers spend hours in soup kitchens distributing food while others devote their time to playing with children at Boys and Girls Clubs. Not only is there a great deal of alleviation felt by those assisted, but a sense of genuine care and camaraderie.
After four years as a CHWC youth camper, Gina Galassi, a member of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Orefield and a senior at DeSales University, spent her fifth summer with CHWC as a staff member, traveling to four U.S. cities to serve.
“Once we experience the love of the Lord, it is so powerful that we cannot help but share it,” said Galassi, “Through our relationship with the Lord, we are able to be healed and extend this healing love to others.”
At the end of each camp, those who have been served are invited to an evening program to share stories about their experience with the campers. “In Philadelphia, there were so many residents who came to give testimony that they had ‘the best group’ and that the campers came with smiles on their faces each and every day renewed their sense of hope and joy for life,” said Galassi.
Catholic HEART Workcamp is just one example of the countless service projects conducted by Catholics in the Commonwealth every year. Through this service, Mother Teresa’s words are exemplified: “Prayer in action is love, and love in action is service.”
For more information about Catholic HEART Workcamp, visit http://heartworkcamp.com.
By Jennifer Southerton, PCC Intern and Student at DeSales University