Sunday, March 29, 2009

Oh Project H2O Where Art Thou?

Watercan - Clean Water for All

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Pope in Africa

The Pope in Africa

Pope Benedict XVI completed his 6 day visit to Africa. He spoke and held Mass in Cameron and Angola. THe was well received. In Cameroon he held Mass for 60,000 people, in Angola there were over one million faithful for Mass.

This is not surprising. Catholicism and Christianity in general is growing in Africa. In some places it is exploding.
That is part of the challenge. The other religion of growth in this continent is Islam. That made the Holy Father’s visit to Cameron especially important. There he met with Islamic leaders. Cameron is a country with active Catholic and Muslim citizenry and a history of dialogue.

Catholicism has a long history in the area, as long as the Portuguese colonizers who were also instrumental in the international slave trade. This is now an area where churches can not contain their membership, they are bulging with too many members (nice problem!). This is an area were there are not enough priests simply because the number of faithful continue to grow. This growth despite the history of European colonialism reflects that the power of love is stronger than the injustices of man.

To be sure the world paid more attention to the Pope’s comments that condoms do not aid in stopping the spread of AIDS in Africa. However, the people on the ground appeared to be more interested in hearing and being with their leader.

The Pope’s last message before heading home to the Vatican was not about condoms, it was a call for justice, peace-making and a rejection of materialism.

Africa is one of the new centers of our Catholic faith. That is appropriate since Africa has given so much to the early Church. I have posted many times about violence, voter fraud and tyranny. It is encouraging to post about the power of love, of the Spirit touching Mother Africa.

Pope Benedict XVI Exhorts Africa to Peace

Emmaus Ministries, Uptown and the Spirit

I drove to Chicago on Friday right after my morning class. I had an interview with Emmaus Ministries. I am working on an M.A. in Theology and I need to do a graduate project. Emmaus Ministries is very appealing to me. It is ecumenical, started by a Catholic Permanent Deacon but includes workers of every denomination. It is an agency that has community, both folks who live in community and a social center for clients and staff to be in community. I like that a lot.

Emmaus Ministries is an urban ministry to homeless male prostitutes. The community center is a safe place for the guys to go to use laundry facilities, shower, get something to eat and talk with staff. There are also groups. Another service is the out reach program. Volunteers and staff go out in pairs from 10 PM to 3 AM and meet the guys on the street. They don’t try to stop them, arrest them or embarrass them. They simply make contact, inform them of the services available to them, they build relationships.

This is not some homophobic group. This is not some conditional group, “become hetro or we won’t help you.” This is a ministry that loves you where you are and if you don’t move, don’t change, you’re still loved and cared for.

I had two interviews and then I spent the afternoon and evening with the Kaio Community. These are the volunteers that live and work together. They have dedicated a year of service, community and prayer. I will be living with them and they are awesome.

The Community Center also has a chapel/group room. It is this large room with art and icons representing a multitude of Christian religious traditions. I can’t wait to be in there.

Emmaus Ministries is in Uptown on Wilson Avenue. It is two doors down from where I first began working in mental health. Across the street is an old nursing home that has been converted into a commune for Jesus People U.S.A., I know I will visit them. Down the street is the American Indian Center, it is a cultural and clinical program for urban Native Americans. I will also get a tour of their facility.

Uptown was an unusual place when I worked there. It was the drop off center for psychiatric hospitals. In an 8 mile radius there were 21,000 to 28,000 schizophrenics. The neighborhood had been the original Hollywood. When the industry moved to California the hotels went vacant. During the late 50s and 60s the hotels were turned into Intermediate Care Facilities. It was not unusual to see people talking to the clouds, praying in the middle of the street or wandering. Today the neighborhood has changed. Property value has gone up, the population has changed. When I was there it was mentally ill, Hmong, Appalachians, African-Americans and international students. Today there are more middle class folks and a lot more Africans. It is busy and exciting.

A cornerstone of the community remains the Uptown Baptist Church. When I worked at the Hazel-Wilson Home I worked with Jim Larson, he is my friend, along with his wife Judy, who minister to young girls in the sex slave trade in Thailand. Jim became the music minister of the Uptown Baptist Church before moving to Thailand. The church represents the neighborhood, it has services in multiple languages.

I spent the night at Emmaus staying with the folks that make up the Kaio community. I slept in the living room on a sofa. There was a giant Celtic Cross painted on the wall. I awoke in the middle of the night, looked up and realized I was at the foot of the Cross, I smiled and and thought, "I wonder if I should do this, if I only had a sign!" I plan on learning a lot, contributing and growing. I also plan on being a religious tourist, of going to as many diverse Churches as possible. I can’t wait.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Making Friends in Flat Gap KY

Holy Project H2O Batman!!!

Our fraternity of the Secular Franciscans as well as the Graduate Psychology Club of USF is participating in Project H2O during Lent. Check it out, you may want to consider it as a service project for your parish, school or club.

Jennifer Connelly in charity: water Clean Water Africa PSA

Good bye Workfest 2009, Hello Workfest 2010

So, what did we get out of Workfest 2009? We had a week of "faithing" together, of seeing love in action. We were servants and we were students. We joined with folks from around the nation and the world to help people in a particular region. We were open to those people changing us.

We got to know one another in a different way and in a different setting. We got to see our faiths in action and our Franciscan values at work. We got to participate in an ecumenical service in which we focused on those things that unite us as we were One Body.

We lived in such a way that others could “See We Were Christians By Our Love “and we celebrated, not tolerated, we celebrated those who were different from us.

We lived in creation while thanking the Creator. We prayed, we sang, we worked, we ate, we laughed, we occasionally were moved to tears and we danced.

So, now what? We take all of this with us, in us. We say "Goodbye Workfest 2009" and prepare to say "Hello Workfest 2010". Some of us will return in various capacities, the Circle is Unbroken.

Will The Circle Be Unbroken: Johnny Cash and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Workfest 2009: Day Six

Well, this was our last morning at Workfest 2009. Breakfast was not until 8:00, people got to sleep a little longer! I however, got up at 5:00, showered, packed my belongs in the van and had my last morning coffee and talk with the men by the fire. It was great.

We had a simple breakfast and a short devotion. Then each school was given cleaning assignments. We had the lodge with two other schools. We were done with our chores within 30 minutes. We packed the vans and then…one last snowball fight with the remaining schools. It was a great ending. Then it was on the road, quiet, tired but oh so pleased with what we had all accomplished and what we had all learned.

University of Saint Francis where are you, “Right here, right here!”

Last Morning at Camp Caleb and Workfest 2009

Workfest 2009: A Week in Prayer

Prayer was an integral part of Workfest. We prayed during morning and evening devotions, before meals, upon arriving at our work site. Our St. Francis team discussed prayer before we left Fort Wayne. We decided that since Nora was in our group and because she was Muslim we would be sensitive to make sure she felt part of our team. For that reason when we prayed together as the USF team our prayers were always offered up to the Father. We figured that was the part of the Triune God that a fellow monotheist, a Muslim could pray to. We also knew we had to be sensitive to Nora’s time for her own prayers. At no point did we feel we were diminishing our devotion as Christians in prayer since we knew we would be praying in the name of Jesus multiple times a day and asking for the blessing of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis as part of the larger Workfest team.

My daughter gave me a wonderful Franciscan rosary for my birthday. It was my intention to pray it daily in my cabin. Well, I had two roommates this year. I did not want to appear overly pious nor make them uncomfortable. So I always put the rosary away when they entered the cabin. That was unnecessary. William P. Monahan, the guy who was on the lower bunk was here with his wife from the University of Florida. They were very active in St. Augustine parish. His Catholicism permeated his being. The other roommate was David Mott, Father David Mott, Father David Mott the Dominican friar from American University. This was the priest that celebrated the Mass with us. I think it would have been OK to pray my rosary in public without making my roomies feel uncomfortable!

I am teaching Marriage and Family counseling this term. We have covered Virginia Satir. I point out to my students her emphasis on becoming aware of your body in space and what your body is communicating to you. Well, we were a diverse group of people. We used space and our body in space differently as we prayed. Some held their hands together, some intertwined their fingers, and others bowed their heads while I saw others whose heads went back, their eyes skyward. Some raised their hands skyward and waved others raised both arms in praise and receptivity. Nora cupped her hands together, open to the sky, receptive to God’s blessing.

There are so many ways to be open, to be thankful to say “yes”. We prayed as large groups, small groups and as individuals. Occasionally I would bump into one of the schools that held their nightly reflections at the registration lodge. They were much more formal than us. They had readings, prayers, petitions and song. It was beautiful. I liked what they did, I like what we did.

It was a good week. It was a week that was anchored in prayer. It was a week of roots and branches and I have taken that home with me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Workfest 2009: The University of Saint Francis

I am most grateful for our wonderful University of Saint Francis team. We were diverse, talented, smart, funny and just a great team.

We had Wendy Clark from Nursing, Pam Lord from the Sciences and I am in Psychology. That was a strong and balanced faculty team.

Rachel DeKold, a peer minister was a whirl wind of activity. She was always laughing, singing and working. Best of all, she has decided to come back next year as a long-term volunteer for CAP. Siti Norazilah Mohd Said, or Nora worked, sang and taught us how to be faithful to one’s self. We also got to see America through her eyes and that was refreshing. Rosemary Morman was this tiny student who never stopped working. Her team leaders were amazed at her commitment. She also could not stop dancing! Bonny Swiderski is a nursing student, an Army vet and a musician. Best of all she was a great team member who shared her life and dreams with us.

Annette Wellman is a theology student. She was always smiling, processing, participating in devotions and working with her team. She was the kind of person others found easy to open up to. Sara Schlotterback was a vet of CAP. She was with us last year. She is full of energy, ideas and wit. I hope she keeps coming back, as a student and then as a volunteer. Jesse Underwood is our other graduate student. He and Nora are both in the Mental Health Counseling program. Everybody who came in contact with Jesse liked him. He took it all in, tried to experience everything there was to offer, except dancing to Blue Grass.

This was the A Team of School teams.

Workfest 2009: Jingle Contest

Workfest 2009: Dance Fever

Workfest 2009: Green Team 2 FOREVER

We had a great team. We had Anmarie Reed from St. Joseph’s College in Maine. She was a psychology major so of course you know she’s smart! She was smart, bubbly, a real worker and fun to be around. We had Mary Jo Stanton also from St. Joe. This was a nursing student who was dedicated to helping others. If she ever stopped smiling I never noticed.

There was Laura Teague from Aquinas College. She knew abut everything, I want her to be on my team when we play Trivial Pursuit. She was always working, problem-solving and soaking in the experiences of the week.

Victoria Glynn was from American University. She was a sophisticated young woman with a bright mind and a wonderful voice. I suspect we will all read about her in the coming years.

Kevin Liftig was from the University of Connecticut or UConn. He was always working, on a ladder, on the roof, with the saws. He also shared, laughed and sang. He had a great voice and a keen mind.

Erin Schlicher was from Michigan State. She was always smiling, helping, encouraging. She was always hammering something. You want your room paneled, call Erin!

Madeline Zecman from the University of Florida was a blast. She was an athlete, a dancer, a student and a worker. Best of all, she was just plain fun to be around.

Finally, there was Bonnie Swiderski from USF. She is a nursing student, an Army vet who served in Iraq and a singer working on cutting a CD. She was funny, serious, and a pilgrim on a journey.

I loved our team. Along with our leaders, Tony, Don, Mike, and Tiffany we clearly had the best team at Camp Caleb.

Green Team Two FOREVER!!!

Workfest 2009: Mentors of Servanthood

During our reflection members of USF announced the winner of our Tau Award. We started this last year. The Tau is one of two crosses associated with St. Francis of Assisi. This cross served as his personal signature. It is a primitive cross associated with the early Church, it is the cross worn by Franciscans today.

We had one criterion, to give a Tau to the worker who most exemplified being a Servant mentor.

Now our Taus are special. It comes from Assisi, from approximately five blocks from where Francis lived, four blocks from where he was baptized, four blocks from his renunciation and eight blocks from where his body is buried. The cross is blessed by a priest in Assisi. Our team chose its winner and then Jesse Underwood made it complicated, he advocated for another worker he felt strongly about. He got additional votes and said he would search for more votes, he was a passionate advocate.

Luckily I had one more Tau. This one came from our mother house in Mishawaka Indiana. The St. Francis Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are responsible for founding 13 hospitals and the University of Saint Francis. This cross was blessed by Father John Stecher of USF.
So, we were honor to present the Tau from Assisi to Don Miller and the Tau from Indiana to Jerry Paulding. These are compassionate, faith filled men who spend their time working and teaching young people to be servants. Francis would approved and so did the crowd.

Workfest 2009: The Jingle That Should Have Won!

The incomparable Lady Victoria with a little help from Queen Madeline and the G-2s

The jingles were all creative. Some groups did Broadway musicals, others hip hop. The team that won won only because they had talent and the most creative skit. I hate when life is fair! Anyway, here's Green Two, remember, all of the ,mothers of the members of Green Two think this is wonderful!

The Bride of Project H2O

Our fraternity of the Secular Franciscans as well as the Graduate Psychology Club of USF is participating in Project H2O during Lent. Check it out, you may want to consider it as a service project for your parish, school or club.

Good:Drinking Water

Workfest 2009: Why I Keep Coming Back

This is Jim Z, a retired firefighter and a chaplain for Nascar talking about why he keeps coming back. He is an exceptional team leader and we are happy he keeps coming back!

Workfest 2009: A Little Clogging

This was not a planned part of the evening. Instead, we were all blessed to see some authntic clogging and then hear some mountain singing.


For the students from Florida this was a big deal, a HUGE deal! It was pretty cool for the rest of of as well.

Workfest 2009: Day Five

Well, this was it. Our last full day of work. Actually it was great. All the teams got a lot done. We spent time with our families. We were blessed, all our families were very likeable and hopefully they can say the same about us. It is not important, we are there to be of service, but it sure is nice!

After we got back to Camp Caleb and cleaned up we all shared in Family Night. It sat for dinner with our work teams, not our school teams. Our families were the guest of honor. The meal was a thanksgiving supper, turkey, cranberries, yams, potatoes, gravy the whole nine yards. It was great.

As we ate, talked and laughed I looked around the room and thought how could this possibly be more perfect, and then it was. Students from Florida came running in the lodge yelling, “It’s snowing” and it truly was. Not some little dandruff type snow but wet, wit, heavy, great packing stuff. It was like the final scene of the movie White Christmas, it was wonderful.

After dinner we had our jingle contest. However, before that started one of the local ladies did some clogging for us and another sang. It was great.

The jingles were about working with our families. They were clever, funny and touching.

This was followed by a time of sharing. This took a long time, we all had a lot to talk about and we did.

Finally it was over, folks met with their schools for reflection, others hiked or went to bed. At midnight I realized that with the moon out and the snow falling so heavy I had to go back outside and just walk. The students from Florida were out making snowmen, snow angels, and having snowball fights. It was a great night.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Water, Water, Everywhere?

Our fraternity of the Secular Franciscans as well as the Graduate Psychology Club of USF is participating in Project H2O during Lent. Check it out, you may want to consider it as a service project for your parish, school or club.

World Water Day Video from charity: water

Monday, March 23, 2009

Workfest 2009: Harold and CAP

Harold Underwood and Workfest

Workfest 2009: Why I'm Here

Why I Come Here

Workfest 2009: Git r Done

Son of Project H2O

Our fraternity of the Secular Franciscans as well as the Graduate Psychology Club of USF is participating in Project H2O during Lent. Check it out, you may want to consider it as a service project for your parish, school or club.

Crocodile Mile

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Workfest: Looking Toward the Hills and the Hearts

Sacramental living: CAP is an ecumenical social service organization. That being said it is hard for me to experience CAP without experiencing it sacramentally. I know a theologian who says sacraments (small “s”) are those things that make what is always present, noticed. He says that when something always is, we become habituated to it, sacraments are concrete ways of breaking through that natural numbing.

Francis believed almost everything we encounter was a sacrament if we had eyes, ears or hands. Almost everything was a reminder, a pointer, to the generosity of the Creator. Well that is how I feel about Workfest.

We experience our world and make sense out of it through our body, through our senses. That is why for us Catholics it is important to have a church look like a Catholic Church, it reminds us of oh so much. It reminds us of the Triune God, of the Incarnation and the Passion, of the Mother, the saints and the mystical body. We are reminded through our eyes with statues, windows, sacramentals, we are reminded through our noses with incense and flowers, through our taste with wine for THE SACRAMENT, we are reminded.

That is why some churches have crucifixes and others crosses, it reminds them of the Passion and/or the Resurrection. Some churches are ornate, others simple, either one bears witness to the fact it is saying something to our senses.

Well CAP reminds me continually of the generosity of a loving Creator. The earth, the hills, the trees remind me. The food, the wonderful meals remind me. The people, the people we work for and the people we work and worship with remind me. My eyes take in the visions of natural beauty and the faces we touch and that touch us. My ears take in the sounds of worship, singing, laughing, and praying, of roosters, birds and dogs. My nose takes in the scents of the hills and my hands take in the feel of a roof, a hammer, a firm handshake.

Appalachia, northeast Kentucky and CAP demand that we pay attention to the here and now, that we bear witness to a generous God. For me going to Workfest is to live sacramentally and to find myself immersed in a week of thanksgiving.

Workfest 2009: Anita Ringer: CAP

Project H2O, the Saga Continues

Our fraternity of the Secular Franciscans as well as the Graduate Psychology Club of USF is participating in Project H2O during Lent. Check it out, you may want to consider it as a service project for your parish, school or club.

So, the choice is clear, take the Project H2O pledge or hit the showers!

Project H2O the Dirty Version

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Workfest 2009: OUI!

The Frenchman

Faces of Workfest 2009

Be a CAP Volunteer

Amy Schill, Volunteer recruiter CAP

Workfest 2009: Day Four

Workfest 2009: Day Four, this was a day of concentrated work. We all wanted to get as much done as possible. Everybody's dream was to get the entire job done before our week was over. This was not a realistic dream but it sure was motivating.

Today was special for a number of different reasons. First, every devotion is better than the last, it is great. Also, after dinner and devotions we had Mass. Many chose to use their free time to visit the area but the Catholics among us, and there were many, went to Mass. It was beautiful and for me, none too soon. I really like worshiping with everyone else but I also miss the real presence, so tonight was great. After Mass there was a bonfire. This was classic, crisp air, a sky full of stars and guitar music and singing.

However, there was one other reason tonight was so special, we had vegetables, oh did we have vegetables

Gone is the time that worrying about the earth was someone else’s problems. Christians are not leaving the care of the earth for the end times. Instead, there is a growing conviction that to not care for creation would be to insult a generous Creator. So, Workfest is making the appropriate changes and in the process making sure they are using less, recycling more and not using what they don’t need to use. Francis would be proud!

That means we all carry our water bottle with us and we fill it up each day. That means the amount of trash has dramatically and visually been reduced. That also means that one day a week is “Vegetarian Day”. This is really a learning/teaching tool. It is to teach us about how much more fuel and hence pollution it takes to produce meat products than vegetables. The goal is not to turn us into vegetarians but rather to have us all consider reducing our meat intake.

The supper was great, stuffed baked potatoes, ravioli, three vegetable soups, salads and desert. Some of the leaders complained but the kitchen staff was proud of their selections and the students loved it. I don’t know if Vegetarian Day will survive but I know attempting it was the right thing to do, a camp full of college students should not be afraid to educate! Go Veggies!

Vegetarian Night

Workfest 2009: Just Because You’re Over 30 Doesn't Mean You Can't Sing!

Oh, people who have lived in the world singing. These are the folks that on campus would be referred to as “non traditional” students, in other words, over 30. And here they are singing and doing a pretty good job of it. The couple is William and Mary. William was my roommate, his wife lived over the hill in the woman’s area. They are from the University of Florida Gainesville. They are active, very active, in the St. Augustine parish. Jim is a retired firefighter from Wisconsin who is currently a chaplain for NASCAR, that is cool. The other woman with all of the enthusiasm is Anna Wright from Aquinas College. Anyway, just because we appreciate a little fiber in our diet doesn’t mean we can’t sing and move our booty!

Seniors Singing, William and Mary, Jim Z. and Anna Wright

Workfest 2009: USF Singers

USF Singers: Rachel DeKolb and Rosie Morman

During an evening of dancing, knee-slapping and singing this was my favorite. The two female singers are from USF. The brunette is Rachel DeKold and the blonde is Rosie Morman. Now there is only one thing to do, make sure their peers back on campus see them singing!

Workfest 2009: Five Miles From Nowhere

OK, let's be clear here. I am not a photo journalist. When the music started I was not in the room, the lens was on the camera and then when I finally got the lens open I did not know how to use "automatic focus"! So, why upload this clip then? Because once you get past the first few seconds it is fun to see how quickly the students get involved. They sang, they danced up front, they got everyone else to dance. It was terrific.

Besides, by setting the standards so low this year (see, this was my plan all along!) I will look terrific next year. I am sure that next year, out of a class of one, I will be the most improved movie maker at Workfest!

Five Miles From Nowhere (remember, you have to listen to this one for a number of seconds before the picture shows up!)

Workfest 2009: Getting Ready to Kick Up Our Heels

Guys Cabins at Camp Caleb

This is just a short clip of walking to the lodge and getting ready for an evening of fun. The cabins may be cramped and a wee bit cold but the two lodges are great. The camp is divided into male and female areas. There is a neutral zone for bonfires. There is a lake and all over there are hills and trees. The sky night is full of stars. Yep, its official, I want to go back, now.

Workfest 2009 Day Three

Workfest 2009: Day Three

This was a great day. We lead the morning devotions. We all worked hard at our sites. The weather was great, 78 degrees and blue skies! We came home tired and hungry. The supper was great, the evening devotions even better and then...Five Miles from Nowhere. The bluegrass band was so much fun. Students danced, they sang and they got into the spirit of the evening immediately. This was a hootenanny! The most moving part of the evening was when the band put down their instruments and lead us all in singing Amazing Grace. This was a memorable evening.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Workfest 2009: A Different Type of Devotion

I am a Muslim

Workfest 2009 Day Three: This morning USF lead the devotion. I loved our service. Our group was a little different from the other schools. We had Nora with us. Nora is a student from Malaysia. She is Muslim. She had mixed feelings about participating in Workfest because it is a project of the Christian Appalachian Project.

Nora wanted to see Kentucky. She wanted to help, she wanted to learn. She also is a proud Muslim woman who did not want to feel pressured to be something she is not or to apologize for who she is. Boy am I glad she decided to join us. I

Our service started with Brandon Heath’s Give Me Your Eyes. We then read the Beatitudes with focus on “Blessed are the Peace-makers”. Next there was a brief biography of Saint Francis. Then we told the story of Francis and the Sultan. For those of you unfamiliar with this it is the story of Francis crossing the battle line in Egypt during the Fourth Crusade. His object was not to fight but to meet with the Sultan and convert him.

This was a big deal. At that time Christians and Muslims were very good at killing each other, they were not so good at just talking. Francis was taken prisoner, he finally met the Sultan and for a number of days they talked. Neither converted the other. Both ended up with a profound respect for one another. Francis was then allowed to leave. He traveled to the Holy Land and visited the sacred sites. Because of this tradition of respect Franciscans were given the responsibility of caring for the Christian Holy Sites.

We than told the schools how important it was in today’s world that this tradition of bridge-building and peace-making continue. We expressed our gratitude that Nora, our Muslim sister was with us. Next Nora read a Muslim story about cooperation and how we (humans) are like dominoes. We can all stand together or we will all fall apart. She thanked Allah and then we ended with a prayer.

This was a great devotional service. It spoke to respect, reaching out, celebrating one another. People expressed their appreciation of our service all week.

I am Free

Workfest 2009: Day Two

Workfest: Day Two. This was our first full day of work. It began with a great breakfast, biscuits and gravy, hot apple sauce, granola. I start the day off a little earlier than the rest of our team. I get up at 5 AM, shower and then join the men at the lodge. We sit near the fire place, drink coffee, talk and tell lame jokes. I love it.

We had our first morning devotion. I love that each school is in charge of devotion, the variety is interesting and it is a great way to begin and end each day.

We had our safety orientation, it consisted of a rather entertaining video on “safety fashion” and it appeared to keep everyone’s interest. It was a vast improvement over last years important but dry presentation.

We then went to our various sites. I was on the Green Two Team, clearly the best team at Camp Caleb! Each team had a lot of work cut out for them. Some drove 30 minutes, others an hour and a half to get to their worksite. Some worked in towns, others hollers or hills. Our families were with us and getting to know the people we were working for was the best part of the week.

Some teams tore houses down and rebuilt almost totally new homes, others replaced floors, roofs, doors and walls. We put up a metal roof, put in new windows and doors and paneled the living room.

We begin each day with gathering in a circle and praying at the site. We pray again at lunch time and that is also a time of sharing. For many teams this is one of the best times of the work day.

We have a great team. We are from Indiana, Michigan. Connecticut, Maine, Washington D.C. and Florida. The members are all very different. However, they are also all easy to get along with, interesting, hard-workers and funny.

When we get home we are tired. We clean up and then go to the lodge to eat. After dinner and devotion we have two presentations to listen to. One on Appalachian history and culture and the other on “Perspective on Poverty.” After the lectures it was free time. We had our USF reflections and then most of us went to bed, we were tired! All and all, it was a very good day.

The H2O Project

I am a Secular Franciscan, well almost. My final profession is in two months. Anyway, our fraternity is participating in The H2o Project. We are working with Franciscan Youth USA.

I brought the project to our Graduate Psychology Club, they are now participating in the H2o Project. A number of my undergrads are also taking the pledge, only drinking tap water and thinking about people they may never know but whom they are determined to help.

So, like last year I am thinking about and desiring pop, lattes, malts, merlot, mead even soy milk! Why, because I am only drinking water. Why? So my very mild discomfort will remind me of those who suffer daily. The moneys we would have all spent on drinks during a two week period will now be used to build wells.

This is a great project. To learn more about The H2O Project and how you can participate watch the video below.

Peace and all Good,

The H2O Project

So, How BIG is Workfest 2009?

So, how big is Workfest 2009? Well, the program is based out of two camps, Camp A.J. and Camp Caleb. It spans four weeks. There are 42 participating schools. Most schools have between 10-12 participants and few have 15 volunteers. That is a lot of free labor. That is a lot of opportunities to serve, to network, to make new friends and a huge opportunity to have fun.

42 schools from the Eastern seaboard, the Midwest and the South result in a lot of ripples. This is significant impact. 42 schools results in a lot of folks going back home touched by Appalachia, touched by servanthood and touched by Christian sister and brotherhood.

Below are a list of the participating schools. We attended during week two and I highlighted the schools that made up Camp Caleb. We were awesome!

Week 1 March 1-6, 2009
• Marywood University
• Bellarmine University
• Saint Xavier University
• Fairfield University
• DeSales University
• Indiana University of PA
• California University of PA
• Valparaiso University

Week 2 March 8-13, 2009
• St Cloud State University
University of Florida--Gainesville
• University of Notre Dame
• UNC Chapel Hill
• Univ of Connecticut St Thomas Aquinas
University of Saint Francis
•College of St Scholastica
Aquinas College
American University
Saint Joseph College of Maine
College of Mount St. Joseph
• UNC Wilmington
• St Richard Parish
Michigan State University

Week 3 March 15-20, 2009
• University Wisconsin-Stevens Point
• Saint Peter's College
• Canisius College
• Caldwell College
• Macomb Community College
• St Norbert College
• Ripon College
• College of Mt Saint Vincent
• Saint Michael's College
• Eastern Illinois University
• University of MN-Duluth
• Millikin University
• Western Illinois University
• University of Scranton

Week 4 March 22-27
• University of Illinois-Chicago
• University of Cincinnati
• University of Missouri-Columbia
• University of Chicago
• University of Oregon
• Ohio State Univ--Lima/Rhodes

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Workfest 2009: Day One

Day one: We all arrive at the University of Saint Francis at 6:00 A.M. Since the time change was only a few hours prior to this we are really arriving at what feels like 5:00 A.M. It is rainy and the 12 of us, 9 students and 3 faculty members load up our two vans and we are on the way to Workfest 2009.

We drive all day with only a lunch break and a couple of pit stops. However, an hour and a half from camp we stop at Natural Bridge State Park. We all take a hike. We walk up and up and up and….up to a natural rock bridge. We climb, we look, we take photos and we ponder. It is a great break. The valleys, vistas, and the lodge we stop at our stunning. Then it is back to our road trip.

By now the roads are curving, going through hills, the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. We drive past hollers, rivers, farms and towns.

And then we arrive.. We are at Camp Caleb. We register and go to our cabins. Afterwards we have our first dinner, meet with the other six schools and then have orientation.

During the orientation USF leads the lodge in singing Happy Birthday to me. That was cool, I was surpised. It felt good that we were already participating in a full-team activity! There was a sense of "us". It was also great to see friends from last year. No doubt about it, this is going to be a great week.

I am trying to use our video cam. Alfred Hitchcock I am not. I am not focused, the camera is not always focused or even has it lens open all the time! Still, my goal is to record some of the people and events this week and that is an exciting addition to the trip.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Workfest 2009: We're Back!

We're back! The University of Saint Francis Fort Wayne team just returned from our mission trip to Eastern Kentucky. We were part of Workfest 2009. We were sponsored by Campus Ministry. Workfest is one of many programs that are part of Christian Appalachian Project. We stayed at Camp Caleb which is right outside Flat Gap Kentucky.

We had a great experience. There were students from seven different colleges and universities. They came from Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Connecticut, Maine and Washington D.C. The students made up a diverse group including students from Malaysia and France.

We worked on homes from all over the area. Workfest is a time of intense free labor, a time of fixing up the homes of “in need” home owners in the Eastern Kentucky part of Appalachia. Our jobs are to be servants and to learn from the families we work with. The students were broken up into various teams that reflected ability not school of origin. The students worked in the hills, hollers and towns. Some of us replaced windows, doors and roofs others demolished homes and rebuilt them.

We prayed together, ate together, danced together and sang together. Mostly, we laughed together and sometimes we shed a tear. It was a time of intense labor but also a time of intense emotion and focus.

We experienced so much over a short period of time. The weather began with rain, changed to a sunny 78 degrees and ended in a beautiful snow fall. Our Saint Francis team bonded. We were a diverse and wonderful group of people, I like us very much! We thought about USF often and were grateful to Campus Ministry and especially Jan Paterson our director for making this trip a reality. Over the next couple of weeks I will be writing about Workfest 2009. I will have photos of the trip and hopefully some video clips. I will also welcome contributions (articles/journal entries/musings) from fellow Workfest attendees.

So, as we say, after breakfast and morning devotions, “GO WORKFEST”