Summer cleaning: Visiting youths help with projects

Published 4:46 am Saturday, July 28, 2018

Groups of Catholic young people from across the country have been travelling to Washington Parish and the Northshore region during the month of July. They haven’t been coming just to see the sights, however, as they have been spending their time working on projects for local citizens in need.

The groups have been affiliated with Catholic Mission Trips (CMT), who has been utilizing Catholic Charities of the Northshore to find Louisianans who are in need. Some of the homeowners are even still making repairs to damages sustained during the March 2016 flood.

Locally, ESM United Methodist Church has been providing “base camp” support by offering a variety of needs including lodging and tools.

“The Rev. Bill Moon has been involved with our mission trips for many years here and across the U.S. over the years,” said Mykelle Laws, site coordinator for Baton Rouge/New Orleans CMT. “He has been invaluable to our teams.”

The Rev. Father Danielle Brouillette and Annunciation Catholic Church have also been assisting the visiting youth teams. He has offered weekly Eucharistic adoration and penance, and has counseled the young people through homilies and storytelling. The men’s group at the church, the Knights of Columbus, has been providing meals for the visiting youths.

“The Knights’ families have told much-needed stories of the 2016 (flood) disaster and traditions of the local area,” Laws said. “The teens now have an introduction into the life of rural Louisiana.”

The groups that visited the area included: July 8-14 — St. Anthony Padua of Las Vegas, Nev., St. Katharine Drexel of Ramsey, Minn., and St. Henry High School of Erlanger, Ky. (metro Cincinnati, Ohio); July 15-21 — Korean Martyrs Catholic Church of Hurst, Texas; July 22-28 — St. Francis de Sales of Lake Geneva, Wis., and St. Benedict’s Church of Fontana-on-Geneva-Lake, Wis.

On Thursday, a group of six youths and one adult were working at the Avenue C home of Yvonne Brice. The group stained and installed a new ceiling in several rooms of Brice’s house, and also replaced some floors, window trims and baseboards.

Chris Hicks, an English teacher, served as the adult leader at the Avenue C work site.

“I feel like service to others brings me closer to God,” he said.

Hicks explained that the Wisconsin churches brought 28 students and six adults to Louisiana last week, and the volunteers were split into five work sites. Two teams helped Bogalusa residents, two worked at Franklinton homes, and one team worked in Angie.

The youngsters ranged in age from rising ninth graders to rising college freshmen. Several have made multiple mission trips in the past.

“It’s a fun time and we get to build things, which is great,” said Brenna O’Brien, who was making her sixth mission trip but her first visit to Louisiana. “It’s also nice to spend the week away and with people your own age.

“It’s not just listening to priests preach at you, it’s a chance to get out in public and show Christian love to people and help them.”

The week wasn’t all about work, however. Hicks said that the group planned to visit New Orleans on Friday as their “free day” and would make a special stop at Café Du Monde to try beignets.