Contact: Caroline Hopkinson
Network is the newly-redesigned teen group. Our main focus is to engage young people to take ownership of their faith through various service, liturgical, and social activities and to also work on becoming witnesses to Christ’s mission.Throughout the year, we offer many opportunities to get young people involved in the parish as well as the surrounding community.
Contact: Beshar Bahjat
The Young Adults Ministry nourishes and supports the spiritual growth and personal balance of people in their 20s and 30s (married or single) by fostering relationships, serving God and others, and exploring their faith journey. We meet once a month to enjoy food, fellowship, and faith.
Contact: Ken Kapst
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare boys who are between the ages of 11 to 18 to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime by instilling the values of the Scout Oath and law.
Contact: Josie Gramith
The mission of the Cub Scouts is to prepare boys who are between the ages of 6 to 11 to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime by instilling the values of the Scout Oath and law.
Contat: Karen Huber
Girl scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.
The purpose of the Athletic Board is to advise and assist the Athletic Director in setting policies and broad guidelines for inter-scholastic programs for students of our school and to assist the principal and the pastor in selecting the Athletic Director.
After a sing along filled, two day drive through the historic cities of Memphis Tennessee and Jackson Mississippi, we arrived in New Orleans. I have been to New Orleans on vacation but this time around I saw the city in a whole different light. I saw the true pain and suffering that remains twelve years after Hurricane Katrina. I saw firsthand the rampant poverty that infests the streets less than a mile away from the beautiful and historic French Quarter. Countless properties that were destroyed by the hurricane are still there. They look like huge sheets of metal, full with overgrown bushes, barely standing on termite invested support beams.
Every night we would come home from work and have devotions; a time to journal about what we did that day and then talk to each other about it. A friend of mine said something that resonated with me; “College has been the most selfish time of my life, not much of what I have done has been for anyone else except for me.” This is my experience of college and judging by the rest of our groups reaction it was theirs, too. The culture of college in the United States is one of studying and playing very hard, of comparison to see whose sorority can gain the most notoriety, who can put together the best resume. It is full of questions that stem from the question “am I good enough?” College students measure their lives every day and when you are measuring life, you are not living it. This Worktour gave me an opportunity I so desperately needed; to give of myself completely to serve the poor and needy, to give every waking second of my seven days to a cause so much greater than life itself. It was this week that I started to truly feel again. For one week, all of my selfish inhibitions and desires, my worries about not measuring up were gone. I felt truly at peace.
I went to give to New Orleans but ultimately New Orleans ended up giving more to me. Ralph Waldo Emerson believed, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” The strength, community, and faith the people of New Orleans have is more noticeable than any other community I have ever seen. The genuine kindness and compassion despite all that God has put them through makes me want to be more grateful and happy. God called me to go on this retreat, God spoke to me every day on this retreat, and God has shown me and continues to show me when I let go of my worldly worries and focus on serving him I will feel fulfilled, and I will truly find happiness. Serving the people of New Orleans, the people of New Orleans themselves and all of my friends on the trip reminded me of this. For them, I am forever grateful. Thank you and thank you to all who made this trip possible, God bless you all.
Anyone who has gone on a St. Paul service trip with Caroline knows how lucky they are to be able to experience such an incredible week. I was blessed enough this past summer to be able to go on two service trips. I’m not really sure if it had something to do with my fear of missing out, the lack of applicants for one of the trips, or Joe Cushing, but somehow there I was—begging for another week of work off and making arrangements so I could attend both trips to New Orleans with St. Bernard Project and Detroit with Motor City Blight Busters.
New Orleans approached quickly, barely a week after graduation, and of course, I was unsure. While all of my friends enjoyed their last summer together before college, was I really about to leave that for 7-hour work days in the heat of the south and a house with 25 other people and two bathrooms? Of course.
People often argue that “home” doesn’t necessarily describe a place. “Home” could be a feeling of comfort or a sense of bliss. And even though New Orleans is 942 miles from Park Ridge, this feeling was no stranger. The late night reflections, spontaneous trips to Popeye’s, and endless jam sessions in the vans could only be described as home. Not many people would enjoy making, molding, and cleaning up mortar in 98-degree weather for an entire day, but when you’re with the right people, it’s painless. But what it’s really about is the people we are helping. I commemorate Ms. Velma, who recently received her doctrine degree, but was almost forced out of her home. When Hurricane Katrina struck, a FEMA trailer was temporarily placed on her front lawn while the family’s house was reconstructed. When the trailer was removed, Ms. Velma’s mosaic sidewalk was cracked, broken, and left there for 11 years. When the landlord threatened to kick her out, St. Bernard Project stepped in and sent us to fix it. Although the job was challenging on our inexperienced bodies, we managed to leave the mosaic completed as if Van Gogh had come back to do the work himself. After one of the best weeks in my life in New Orleans, I was second guessing my decision to apply for Detroit. With a whole new cast of volunteers and a city that couldn’t even compare to New Orleans, I was seriously considering to withdraw my spot on the next trip. But, for some reason, God wanted me to go, and that is a request that I could not turn down.
With teens ranging from 14 to 19, let me be the first person to tell you that Detroit consisted of an unusual group of people. My uncertainties proved themselves within the first few days when we all spent our entire day together and still weren’t best friends like we were in New Orleans. But looking back on it now, I can’t believe we lingered in that awkward phase for so long. Somewhere around Tuesday or Wednesday at probably 4 in the morning, someone flipped a switch, and we were suddenly inseparable. But flipside of the trip wasn’t as easy. In a city less than 6 hours from Park Ridge, the poverty and emptiness of Detroit were unbelievable. And on the worksite, our tasks weren’t exactly desirable. From picking collard greens to singing at a local Vacation Bible School to cleaning up literal dirt, we got through the rough work day together. The rest of the week moved by scary fast and as we sang 80’s rock for about 2 hours on Friday night, I could see in all 20 people’s eyes that they didn’t want to leave.
My worktour trips, in quantity, have only been a slight part of my life. But in quality, they have been immense. In all honesty, I don’t want to know who I would be without my three trips. The work and the change in culture had a significant impact on my life, but nothing as big as the people and community that I experience these powerful trips.
My experience with Habitat for Humanity was amazing. I got to make so many new friends, and meet a lot of interesting and inspiring people. On the first six hour van ride out to North Carolina, I was lucky that I was put in a van with some of the most outgoing and sweetest people that were so welcoming. We all introduced each other and created a strong bond throughout the trip after. After we got to North Carolina I was so excited to work, it didn’t really matter what I would be doing, I just wanted to be doing something that would make a difference either in one person’s life or a whole families’. I loved working with different people every day and being given different tasks. The first work day me and my group landscaped a house’s yard, the next we hammered foam into the wall, lifted wooden planks into a truck, and hammered screws onto the wood boards. After each day I was so happy that I was with such a nice group of people and what we were able to accomplish together. After the week flew by, I could not believe that it was already over; I made so many new friendships and helped build part of a home. Every time I think back to that time, it reminds me of the time I made a significant impact on someone else’s life and got to see the genuine caring side of others.
My week in North Carolina was fun, difficult, and fulfilling. I have never been so tired, yet had so much fun simultaneously in my life, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I certainly faced difficulties on the trip. However, what really made the trip all worth it was our last day of work. On Friday, we installed the first floor of the Everett House and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Knowing that I helped build a house for the family and they would have meals on the floor that we constructed was the most incredible feelings in the world. Our time in Winston-Salem was one of the highlights of my summer and I will cherish it forever.
This was far and away the most engaging, friendly, kind, and polite group of H.S. students I have ever hosted. And, I host 2 groups of H.S. students every year – for the past 5 years! And, the “ginger” leader was really a sweet heart as well! I really hope we see another group from St. Paul of the Cross – but, that’s not why I’m writing. As a mother, I just needed to share this and hope you will share with th