Milford students travel to Rosebud S.D. to deepen
Catholic Globe report
Father Tom Flanagan, pastor, noted that this is the second year they have taken youth on the trip. The idea for organizing such a trip came from one of the adults who works with the parish youth. She had prior experience as a teacher at one of the Native American Reservations. Last year three students were accompanied by Teresa Goehring and Father Flanagan on that trip.
He had hopes that the students would gain four things from the trip: 1) learn about the life, culture and values of the Lakota people, 2) be reinforced in their commitment to serve the needs of others in whatever ways they could, 3) grow together in their youth group community and 4) take time away from their usual hectic lives to reflect on their own lives and their relationship with God.
“Our primary work was to paint the inside walls of a small building in Wood, SD that functioned both as a church for the small resident community and also as a catechetical center,” Father Flanagan said. “We painted those walls, we mowed and cleaned up the lawn, we removed metal security screens on the outside and scraped, primed and painted those as well. We also cleaned up a vacant lot near the catechetical center in Rosebud, SD. And we cleaned the catechetical center itself.”
On two evenings a young Lakota man who works at the nearby St. Francis Mission came and spent about an hour each evening telling the group about the Lakota life, culture and values. About 20 children joined them at the catechetical center to hear those presentations and to interact and play with the youth group members. Youth from St. Joseph’s found the experience to be valuable.
Ryan Clark said, “I learned a lot about God because I did a lot more Bible studying than I have in the past. It has allowed me to help others in a community and children that are not as well off as some of us are.”
Through the trip, he said he did get closer to God. Mass was celebrated about every other day and they participated in Bible studies.
“I enjoyed the entire time that I was over there,” Clark said. “I really enjoyed the time in the badlands. Having prayer time together there was really cool because it was out in the open air.”
Bo Rouch said he learned something about himself – that he can work well with little kids.
“The Lakota kids are quieter like me so it was easy to be with them,” he said. “My favorite thing about this trip was fitting in with the other youth group kids. They are very accepting of differences. A real highlight of the trip was our celebration of the Mass together in a small group. Everyone was really into it.”
Gabe Goehring pointed out that since their youth group has gotten bigger, it is hard to connect with everyone and trips build a deeper sense of community within the group.
“I like getting to know everyone on the trip better, in a way you can't during a regular youth group meeting. I liked working with the Lakota children. Kids have a simple faith that I admire. We all let life get too complicated. I feel closer to God when life is less busy," he said.
Grace Goehring said, "I liked how I knew that our service project of painting would make the Religious Education center nicer for the kids that we learned about, played with and prayed for. It feels right to share our time with others."
Alejandro Guerrero giving up some time to serve others is really something that you can feel good about.
“It led me close to God, of course, having the wonderful experience of playing with the kids and talking with some people, and sharing the Lakota culture,” he said. “It was incredible.”
He also learned the importance of working together as a team. He believes the work they did was great.
“The highlights of this trip were learning about the culture and sharing the same ideals. I enjoyed being with the others, playing with the kids and overall praying together with the youth,” Guerrero said.
“We had brought along some t-shirts and other new clothing articles; the kids each found something they liked and could wear,” he said. “Our youth group members also enjoyed the interaction with the Lakota children. Our youth group members were all positive about the experience from the very beginning and were all eager to participate in this service trip. They all worked hard and were just a good group to be with.”
The priest believes it is good for young people to have structured ways to serve others.
“It is good for them to learn firsthand what Jesus meant when he said, ‘the greatest among you is the one who serves the rest.’ Our society seems to place a lot of emphasis on individual success and accomplishment, particularly in sports events. Perhaps we need a counter weight to that which points out that success can also be measured in what I give to others, rather than just in what I get for myself,” Father Flanagan said. “It is in the giving that the participants also receive, perhaps in a new awareness of themselves as part of the larger body of Christ in which each member has a measure of responsibility for the other.”
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