There was a buzz of excitement last week at Saint Viator High School, as more than 120 students—incoming freshmen, current students, and young alumni—gathered for the fourth annual Service & Song camp.
— Fr. Corey Brost (@svservice_song) July 18, 2016
Praise. Serve. Live! That’s the theme that drove the camp, which took place every afternoon during the week, under the leadership of Fr. Corey Brost, C.S.V., Mrs. Norma Garcia, music director, and Mr. John Paulik, religion teacher.
“As we go about this, there are people in the world who are hungry, lonely, and sick and alone,” Fr. Brost said on the opening day. “This week we’re going to feed the hungry and visit the lonely. We’ll be changing the lives of people by the work you do. You’ll be changing the world because you had the guts to come this week.”
Saint Viator senior Carolyn Bielawski returned for her fourth straight summer. When she first attended the camp, she was an incoming freshman not knowing anyone, but for the past two summers, she has served as a leader.
— Fr. Corey Brost (@svservice_song) July 19, 2016
“I really want to make sure the new campers feel welcomed and connected,” Carolyn says. “That’s the way I felt after my first year.”
One of the first time campers in her group was eighth grader, Logan Gryzlo. He followed his older brother, Matt, who had attended the camp.
“I was surprised it was so much fun,” Logan said.
Saint Viator junior Thomas Stanila returned this year with his violin to serve as a leader in the “song” track. Working with 20 student singers and musicians, they opened and closed each session with inspiring songs and also learned new liturgical music.
— Tom Ramsden (@tramsden21) July 22, 2016
“I didn’t know anyone the first year I came,” Thomas says, “but I started making connections with other participants and I saw how much unity there was in the music. That’s when I was hooked.”
Students like Logan participated in the “service” track, doing everything from light maintenance for local seniors to making lunches for the homeless and blankets for hospice patients, to sharing an afternoon with grandparents and listening to their wisdom.
— SV Campus Ministry (@CampusMinSVHS) July 20, 2016
One group spent a hot afternoon pulling weeds at the community garden, on the grounds of the Viatorian Province Center, which grows fresh vegetables for families served by local food pantries.
A highlight for Logan’s group was volunteering at the Feed My Starving Children facility in Schaumburg, where the entire camp worked in teams to pack specially formulated meals for malnourished children in Third World countries.
Their service week ended with campers following up in the surrounding neighborhoods, collecting nonperishable food for the Wheeling Township food pantry.
“Our intention was to let students directly serve those most in need in the local community,” Fr. Brost added, “and learn why service is at the heart of a lived‐out Catholic faith.”
Saint Viator officials were thrilled with this year’s response to the camp, which ultimately fulfilled 20 hours of service per student. A requirement of the school is for each student to complete 25 hours of service per year, as part of a goal of building lifelong spiritual growth—in a community inspired to serve.