DSC_0021A tradition of immersing incoming students into Saint Viator’s commitment to service continues this week at the fourth annual Service & Song Camp.

More than 130 students turned out for the five day camp, its largest group ever. They include junior high students and incoming freshmen as well as current Saint Viator students and young alumni serving as leaders.

On the first day, senior Ann Haubenreiser’s group spread out through the local neighborhood to deliver pamphlets about their food collection at the end of the week.

DSC_0019“We’re spreading awareness,” Ann said. “It’s our call to help feed the hungry.”

In fact, feeding the hungry was one of the driving forces which led Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, to start the unique camp, back in 2013.

“As we go about this, there are people in the world who are hungry, lonely, 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.”

This year’s destinations include: Community Threads, Sisters of the Living Word, WINGS, the Wheeling Township Food Pantry and the Viatorian Community Garden, all in Arlington Heights; Journey Care in Barrington; Catholic Charities in Des Plaines; St. Joseph Home for the Elderly and Journeys: The Road Home, both in Palatine; and Feed My Starving Children in Schaumburg. They also will help out at homes of area senior citizens.

Students divided into 10 teams, which grouped junior high and incoming students with teen leaders from Saint Viator. Each afternoon starts out with a reflection on their service and people they impact, as well as a song led by student musicians and choral members.

“It’s neat to see that we’re making a contribution,” said sophomore Bryce McDonnell of Arlington Heights, after his first day of working with his team at the vegetable garden tended by the Sisters of the Living Word. “It was cool to work with Sr. Barbara.”

Senior Richard Rinka of Mount Prospect described the impact of his group’s delivery of sandwiches they had made to clients served by Catholic Charities.

“We as a community can be a light of hope for people,” he said. “Making sandwiches may not have seemed like much, but we are truly feeding the hungry.”

At St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in Palatine, camp members entertained residents with an impromptu luau, complete with presenting leis to the group and the boys even performed their version of a hula dance.

“It was so fun,” said Anne Sheehan ’69, whose 93-year old mother, Dorothea Caffrey, lives at the home. “It made my mother’s day and that of all the other people there. Their visit just meant so much to the residents.”

The second day of the camp also drew President Brian Liedlich and Principal Karen Love to drop in and observe the enthusiasm.

“As a school, we’re not only committed to rigorous academics,” Mr. Liedlich said, “but to carrying out the gospel values and serving others.”

Seeing so many students engaged in service impressed Mrs. Love, in only her second week on the job.

“Thank you for carrying out the good work that you do, through service,” Mrs. Love said. “I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you.”

Br. Peter Lamick, CSV ’07, is co-directing the camp this year with Fr. Brost and he offers a reflection each day before groups head out to their work sites.

“Try to see Jesus in the people we’re serving,” he told students. “When we talk about taking up our cross, we’re talking about responding to people who are in need.”