More than 150 students—a record turnout—gathered in Querbes Hall for the start of the five-day camp. They included 43 current Saint Viator students who signed up as leaders, as well as recent alumni and more than 100 incoming students.
“We’re here because there’s pain in the world,” said Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, former president of the high school who started the unique camp in 2013. “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.”
The camp has two tracks. While most of the students participate in service, another group develops their experience in liturgical music. Working with Mr. Dan Walls, choral director, they learn liturgical music that opens and closes each day’s sessions.
This year’s service destinations include: Community Threads, Sisters of the Living Word, SALUTE, Inc., 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.
Mr. Brian Liedlich, president of Saint Viator High School, greeted campers on the opening day. He thanked them for coming and for making a commitment to service.
“Carrying out service is consistent with the gospel values and with our mission as a school,” Mr. Liedlich said. “It is my hope that service impacts your life, not only in your years here but for the rest of your life.”
This year’s leaders exemplified how service had impacted their lives.
“I first came as an eighth grader and I wanted to meet new people before freshman year,” said Nicole Durso ’19. “Now, as a leader, I hope to instill the same passion for service that I have.”
J.C. Thomas ’20 has attended two Service & Song camps before this year, and through his involvement, he says it has opened his eyes to serving the marginalized. He returned as a leader this year and said he hoped to influence younger students.
“It’s important that they know that people are in need and that we can help,” he said.
Before the campers departed for their first service trip, they reflected on the pain and suffering they see in the world. They each wrote one issue on a poster on that back wall, and their answers ran the gamut, from hunger, homelessness, and bullying, to human trafficking, deporting immigrants and gun violence.
While they may not be able to affect change in some of these areas, Fr. Corey said he wanted them to acknowledge the suffering they see in the world and that they can be agents of change.
“Our intention is to let students directly serve those most in need in the local community,” Fr. Corey said, “and learn why service is at the heart of a lived‐out Catholic faith.”