Whether they stocked shelves, did some gardening, made repairs or prepared meals, the main goal for the young people who participated in Mission: Jersey 2023 was to do something to help make someone else’s life a little easier and more comfortable.
“I love doing community service,” Catherine Prioli of St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson, said of her July 27 experience at Seeds of Service in Brick, an organization that assists the needy of the area with an array of services including food, clothing and household items, as well as providing educational opportunities.
PHOTO ALBUM: Mission: Jersey Freehold
PHOTO ALBUM: Mission: Jersey Brick
An effort such as Mission: Jersey is important because it’s a way for “helping young people to grow closer to Jesus,” she said.
This year’s Mission: Jersey was angled differently than in past years in that it had the young people traveling to sites to perform community service, whereas in previous years, the work was done on parish campuses.
For the teens from Ocean County on July 27 and the teens from Mercer County on Aug. 1, the day began with them meeting in Visitation Parish, Brick, for prayer and overview about what to expect during the day before heading to work in nearby Seeds of Service. The schedule for Monmouth County on Aug. 3 began with teens gathering in St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold, before heading to two area food pantries.
A Mission: Jersey participant stocks shelves during his July 27 visit to Seeds of Service in Brick. Mike Ehrmann photo
Mission: Jersey, said Dan Waddington, director of the diocesan Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, “is about creating opportunities for young people to put their faith into action in a way they would normally not have.
“It’s also not just about doing the work but about helping to connect young people with the people they are serving,” he said, and most important, “it’s about why we as Catholics and they as young Catholics are called to do this kind of work.
“Mission: Jersey,” Waddington added, “exposes the teens to local service opportunities that are not far from their homes and helps them to see that they don’t have to go to a far away place to do God’s work.”
Reflecting on her first time participating in Mission: Jersey, Ashley Elias, a rising sophomore in Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River, said she was reminded about “appreciating what I have” and witnessing firsthand the ways in which people are in need of help.
Evan Abreu, a senior in Notre Dame High Parish, Hamilton, appreciated the impact his hands-on service could have on someone in need of help much more so “than just making a donation.”