September 4, 2015

Youth volunteers mark 20 years of helping Brown County residents

Teenagers and youth ministry leaders from St. Agnes Parish in Nashville and parishes in Terre Haute spent four days in late July assisting people in need in Brown County. (Photo by Carol Nathan)

Teenagers and youth ministry leaders from St. Agnes Parish in Nashville and parishes in Terre Haute spent four days in late July assisting people in need in Brown County. (Photo by Carol Nathan)

By Carol Nathan (Special to The Criterion)

BROWN COUNTY—Each summer, teenagers from St. Agnes Parish in Nashville and young people from Terre Haute’s youth ministry program come together with adult leaders to help needy persons in Brown County. This summer, the Indiana Nazareth Farm Service camp celebrated 20 years of assisting its brothers and sisters in need in southern Indiana.

The annual service camp is sponsored by St. Agnes and five Terre Haute parishes which have combined their youth ministry efforts—St. Benedict, Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Patrick, St. Margaret Mary and St. Joseph University. The camp is based on four cornerstones—community, prayer, simplicity and service.

The outreach effort occurred on July 24-28 and included 20 teenagers, two young adults and 14 adults. The youth directors for the project included Adrianne Spahr from St. Agnes Parish, and Tom Gattuso and Augusta McMonigal, youth ministers for the Terre Haute area parishes.

The youths and their leaders reached out to the community of Brown County and provided their spiritual and physical strength to make the lives of some Brown County residents easier, and to help them manage their homes. Some of the work this year related to recent storm damage and flooding in Brown County.

The projects included weeding; laying down several pounds of mulch; woodcutting; hauling and stacking; packing boxes for a move; yardwork; painting; constructing a ramp and steps; and digging out a culvert.

Each teenager and adult leader averaged 36 hours of intensive hard labor in just four days, totaling 1,296 person hours. In addition, the youths and leaders shared prayers and reflections each day.

Since the camp was initiated 20 years ago, teenagers and their adult chaperones have provided more than 26,000 hours in service.

The original Nazareth Farm was formed as an association of the Catholic Church and is located in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston,W.Va. Its purpose is to provide volunteer service to the people of Appalachia.

The program was started in Brown County by Benedictine Sister Mildred Wannemuehler, then parish life coordinator at St. Agnes Parish, former youth ministry coordinator Janet Roth at St. Benedict and Sacred Heart of Jesus parishes in Terre Haute, and Mike Lewis, then youth ministry coordinator at St. Agnes Parish in Nashville. Dee and Gene Suding have been instrumental in the ongoing success of the project, providing space for the camp and continuing support of its mission. Paul and Kelli Suding continue their family’s tradition of providing camp space and support.

The appreciation of the people served by these outstanding youths and adult leaders is impressive and heartfelt, youth leaders said. They added the spirit of warmth and caring was so sincere that it was “vibrant and magnetic.”

The Nazareth Farm project is held each summer at the end of July

Brown County residents who need assistance are encouraged to keep this outreach in mind for themselves, or if they know of others who might benefit from the gift of service provided by these youths and their leaders.
 

(Carol Nathan is a member of St. Agnes Parish in Nashville. For more information about Nazareth Farms, contact Adrianne Spahr, youth ministry coordinator at St. Agnes Parish in Nashville, at spahr6@gmail.com.)

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