Teens help out at local churches, food pantries

Teens from throughout North Jersey wash classroom desks at Sacred Heart Church in Bloomfield.

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Forty-three teens from throughout North Jersey devoted part of their summer vacation to completing a range of community service projects during the Archdiocese of Newark’s 10th Summer Service Week from Sunday, July 16, through Friday, July 21.

This year’s Summer Service Week — which was overseen by the archdiocesan Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry — saw the high school-aged teenagers volunteering at a variety of sites requiring assistance, including St. Michael Church in Cranford, St. Leo’s Church in Elmwood Park and Sacred Heart Church in Bloomfield.

The teenagers landscaped grounds, moved furniture, cleaned rooms, washed windows and mopped floors. They also sorted clothes and distributed food to people in need at the Father English Consumer Choice Food Pantry in Paterson and The Mercy Houses of Newark and Jersey City, according to a press release from the diocese.

The youths also created birdhouses for Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, which will display them to comfort mourners with God’s creatures.

Following each work day, the teens returned to the St. John Paul II Youth Retreat Center in Kearny to discuss their experiences. They also reflected on how they can live their Catholic faith daily through their actions and treatment of others. And on one occasion, Auxiliary Bishop Michael A. Saporito led them in an adoration, after which the teenagers participated in the Sacrament of Penance with archdiocesan priests.

“I hope this experience changes the teens’ perspectives and makes them appreciate what they have more,” said Rich Donovan, the archdiocesan Youth Office’s associate director for events and training. “And I hope they see that they don’t have to go far away on a mission trip to do service — there’s work to be done right here in their diocese. The Summer Service Week may be over, but their mission starts now. It’s up to them to take what they’ve learned back to their communities and make a difference.”

For more information about the Office for Youth & Young Adult Ministry, visit https://www.newarkoym.com/.

Photo Courtesy of the archdiocese of Newark