September 1, 2017

St. Agnes youths, adults touch lives through volunteer effort

Youths, adult workers, members of the St. Agnes Ladies Guild, and several other adults who helped with the Nazareth Farm project are pictured inside St. Agnes Church in Nashville before taking part in a prayer service on July 23. (Submitted photo)

Youths, adult workers, members of the St. Agnes Ladies Guild, and several other adults who helped with the Nazareth Farm project are pictured inside St. Agnes Church in Nashville before taking part in a prayer service on July 23. (Submitted photo)

Special to The Criterion

BROWN COUNTY—The comments from the youths spoke volumes about how much their days of volunteer work had touched their lives.

“We will remember this experience forever,” one commented. A returning participant said, “I am back again because this project brings some of the best memories.”

Another youth, reflecting on the hot summer days and the bugs that accompanied them, said with a touch of humor, “I think I swallowed at least 100 gnats!” Another added, “We sure accomplished a lot!”

From July 21-25, 12 youths and nine adults—ranging in age from the early 20’s to the mid-80’s—from St. Agnes Parish in Nashville took part in the annual Nazareth Farm service camp to Brown County residents.

The outreach, which aims to improve the homes of elderly residents, is based on four cornerstones: community, prayer, simplicity and service. Since 1995, team members have provided more than 27,000 hours of service to Brown County.

This year’s project involved 15 project sites across central and northern Brown County. As part of the process, Adrianne Spahr, youth ministry coordinator for St. Agnes Parish, and her husband Paul, responded to requests for service from individuals and organizations.

The projects included splitting and stacking tons of wood, weeding overgrown gardens and yards, laying mulch, cleaning out garages and removing debris, cleaning a pond, moving large rocks, washing windows, staining decks, moving furniture, building staging on pallets to store items, sorting out scrap, recyclables and litter, and monitoring huge bonfires of burnable materials.

Many of the elderly expressed their gratitude for the energetic efforts of the Nazareth Farm team members, who dedicated 828 hours of labor during the four-day blitz, laboring through the 94-degree temperatures.

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.

In 1995, the program was started in Brown County by Benedictine Sister Mildred Wannemuehler, then-parish life coordinator of St. Agnes Parish; former youth ministry coordinator Janet Roth of St. Benedict and Sacred Heart of Jesus parishes in Terre Haute; and Mike Lewis, then-youth ministry coordinator of St. Agnes Parish in Nashville. Dee and Gene Suding were instrumental in the ongoing success of the project, providing space on their farm for the camp and continuing support of the mission. Thanks to Paul and Kelli Suding, that tradition continues.

For years, St. Agnes parishioners Patty and Eric Lindley have offered swimming and dinner at their home for one night of the camp. This year, Debbie and Gary Havely also opened their home to weary team members one night for swimming and a picnic.

Sunday night dinner is always a bountiful feast provided by the ladies of the St. Agnes Guild. Joining in the dinner this year were also some of the property owners, who enjoyed visiting with team members and talking about the projects.

The rest of the meals are sparse, with lunch consisting of peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. To offset the expenses, including materials for some of the projects, the youths each pay $70 to take part in the program.

St. Agnes parishioners can be proud of the work and dedication this project provides to Brown County, and the work done by the young people and their chaperones.
 

(For more information about Nazareth Farms, which will take place again next July, contact Adrianne Spahr, youth ministry coordinator at St. Agnes Parish in Nashville, at 812-327-9470 or spahr6@gmail.com.)

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