By Eli Woodvine and Ricky Shoop
Our Lady of the Angels parish in Kenai, Alaska, served by the OMI, joined two other parishes from the Archdiocese of Anchorage (St. Patrick’s and St. Andrew’s) to make a difference in Kodiak, Alaska! Thirty young missionaries and seven “seasoned” adult missionaries from the three parishes traveled to St. Mary’s parish in Kodiak for a week long mission trip, June 7-13, 2015! Father Tom Rush, OMI, Deacon Kevin Woodvine, and John Barrientes, youth director at St. Patrick’s parish in Anchorage were among the adult volunteers that made this mission a success.
At the invitation of Father Frank Reitter from St. Mary’s Church, these young missionaries worked with other youth from the parish to hone their leadership skills each morning, and assist with building and painting projects each afternoon. Several service projects to help enhance the beauty of St. Mary’s parish and school kept us busy in the afternoon. One of the service projects this year was to paint the inside of St. Mary’s Thrift Store. Fr Frank challenged our young missionaries to paint the thrift store and to have it restocked in three days! The youth not only rose to the challenge but succeeded! Another service project was the upkeep and expansion of the spiritual garden the 2014 Mission Trip youth built. These young missionaries expanded the rosary path, added signs with messages on which to reflect, created “how to pray the Rosary” cards in three different languages (Spanish, English, and Tagalog), as well as painted the benches.
The rhythm of each day was paced by daily prayer and the Holy Mass. Time was spent in communal recitation of morning prayer, and each day ended with a guided examen meditation. Evenings were spent hiking the beautiful island of Kodiak, playing card games and enjoying the great company. Thursday evening was a time of special rejoicing as the parish set up a potluck dinner and dance for all the hard work put in by these teens.
After a week of rich bonding, the youth and their chaperones set off for home on the historical M/V Tustamena Ferry. Under the midnight sun, the group was accompanied home by dolphins, whales, otters and sea lions! During the ferry ride back to Homer, Deacon Kevin asked several youth what was one of the best experiences of their Mission Trip. Deacon Kevin said “They all responded with a similar answer ‘meeting and working with other Catholics their own age’.”
We are grateful for Fr. Frank and St. Mary’s hospitality, the work of the youth, and the adult chaperones: Karla Smith, Margaret Gilman, Ricky Shoop, John Barrientes, Fr. Tom Rush, OMI, Deacon Kevin Woodvine, and Eli Woodvine. We are especially fortunate and grateful to have Fr Tom Rush, OMI show us how to be truly missionaries! A special thank you to Matthew Beck for the Catholic Grown Logo! We wore it boldly!
Photo captions: Top right: (L-R) Madeline Michaud Yareth Santana , and Mark Aguilar, Top Left: Fr. Tom Rush, OMI, Bottom Center, Max Ditzler paints the “Spiritual Garden sign, Last; group Shot