August 5, 2005

Homeland Mission Project helps
youth see needs in archdiocese

By Brandon A. Evans

About 35 youth took a mission trip in July to serve the poor and those in need, but they didn’t really go far.

The youth spent a week taking part in the Homeland Mission Project, a first-time event for the archdiocesan Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

During each day, the young people took turns serving different Indianapolis agencies in small groups: the Cathedral Soup Kitchen, Miracle Place, Holy Trinity Adult Day Care Center, St. Augustine Home for the Aged, St. Elizabeth-Coleman Pregnancy and Adoption Center, and a day camp for Hispanic children operated by the Missionaries of Charity.

Then, following a day of service, the youth returned to their overnight facilities at Christ the King Parish and Bishop Chatard High School for Mass, prayer and free time.

Each evening, the young people also listened to various speakers, who discussed such things as service and the Eucharist, seeing Christ in others, service to the poor in the Scriptures, and making sense of poverty.

Father Robert Robeson, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, said that the idea for this event came out of a discussion with Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein.

Many youth, Father Robeson said, often travel outside the archdiocese for mission trips, so he wanted to help youth see the needs in their own backyard.

“In fact, there is an awful lot of work that needs to be done in our archdiocese,” he said.

Kelly Calwell, a junior at Bishop Chatard High School, heard about the week from her friend’s mother.

“I’ve wanted to go on a mission trip, so I wanted to come,” Kelly said.

She said that service gives her the opportunity to not just serve, but to learn from those who are served—and to get to know them.

One of her highlights was “the
communication that I have with the people that I’m helping.”

Anna Marie Miller, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis and sophomore at Bishop Chatard, said that her favorite part of the week was visiting the senior citizens who spend time at Holy Trinity Adult Day Care Center.

At that particular site, the service entailed by the youth was nothing more than to keep company with those at the center—to play games with them and talk with them.

But even things that seem simple can be a service.

Sean Winningham, a member of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis and a junior at Marian College in Indianapolis, was a site director for two of the locations. He said that seeing all the forms of service is part of the experience the youth were having.

“They’re seeing different kinds of ways to do service,” Winningham said. “You can do service for anybody, no matter where they’re at in their journey, young or old—people their own age as well.”

Billy Brandle, a member of St. John Parish in Daylight, Ind., in the Evansville Diocese and a junior at Marian College, helped to organize the weeklong mission.

He echoed Winningham’s remarks and said, regarding the youth, that “we want to show them the different service areas and different service opportunities.

“We don’t just want them doing the same thing all week—we’re doing different types of services.”

Some youth, he said, are not exposed much to the things that they spent the week doing.

The mission, Father Robeson said,
successfully communicated to the young people the needs of their own city.

“Many of them had the opportunity to see things that are being done, and see dimensions or areas of the city of Indianapolis that they would normally not encounter,” he said. “Many of the youth talked about how it had really affected them.”

Father Robeson said that he considers the event a success, and plans to continue it each year. He hopes that as many as 60 youth will sign up next year, though he added that they could easily accommodate up to 100 teenagers.

Eddie Fernandez, a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood and sophomore at Greenwood High School, said that the event was a chance to meet new people, and hopes that even more show up next year. †


Local site Links: