Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

St. Maria Goretti Youth Group Takes Mission Trip

By Kate Bittner The Message Intern
Delaney Spindler, left, and Holly Bittner proudly display the fruits of their labor in the garden of Grow Appalachia, a local concern that sells produce to area families.


“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks. Compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands. Yours are the feet. Yours are the eyes. You are His body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”  – Prayer of St. Theresa of Avila.


With the assistance of six adults, 14 teenagers from the Saint Maria Goretti Youth Group were the hands, feet and eyes of Christ for the impoverished of David, Ky., an unincorporated coal-mining-related community in Floyd County – in the Appalachian Mountains of east-central Kentucky.


The youth group includes young people from Holy Cross Parish in Fort Branch, St. Bernard Parish in Snake Run, St. James Parish in Haubstadt, and Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Haubstadt. They heard about the possibility of making a mission trip to eastern Kentucky from the youth group at St. Joseph Parish in Princeton, which has made similar trips. The teens eagerly signed up for the mission trip, truly understanding the importance of serving those in need. For five days, the hardworking young people did everything asked of them without question or complaint.


They worked on many projects involving a home being built and another being remodeled. Their tasks included drywall mudding and sanding, painting, plumbing, laid down new linoleum floor, did new electrical work, made a holder for a sink out of wood from scratch, did roof work, cut and nailed on aluminum siding for the house, nailed boards around the outside windows, painted sealer on the roof, replaced rotted wood under refrigerator, put on new doorknobs, and cut, stained, and nailed on new baseboards around a room. Each day a smaller group woke up early to make breakfast and in the afternoons went back to the school and made the dinner meal.


“This year’s mission trip was a unique experience. I bonded with everyone who went, and I definitely learned a lot,” said Robert Buehner, a youth group member from St. Bernard Parish.


Service is worthless without the guidance of prayer. With that in mind, each morning of the trip began with a prayer session led by the youth. Every night closed with a scripture passage followed by a discussion of how God’s Word connected to that day.


The young people also made time for some fun and relaxation. After working an eight-hour day, they returned to the school where they stayed for supper, then some games – an intense Spoons card game, adults versus youth volleyball, adrenaline-pumping basketball, Texas Hold ‘Em and other card games. On their last night in Kentucky, the already-exhausted group played an extreme game of Ultimate Frisbee until midnight.


The Frisbee action followed a trip to the Red River Gorge. The group marveled at the beauty of God’s creation as they hiked up a mountain and walked across the natural bridge. It was a rainy day, but the weather couldn’t dampen their excitement for swimming in the river and jumping into the cool water.


Reflecting upon the trip, many youth were surprised by the poverty of the people in the area. It was almost like entering a different world – one they almost couldn’t fathom. Their minds stretched to imagine a life where it was uncommon to graduate from high school, and they found it shocking that many of the best jobs in the area were in coal mines and fast-food restaurants.


It broke their hearts to see a run-down mobile home on a lot next to a nice house with a late-model Mustang parked outside. The experience really opened their eyes and helped them to appreciate more fully the things that they have and the opportunities with which they have been blessed.


“Throughout our entire time together, I felt the grace and presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit filling us with a transformative love,” Bryan Macke, the youth minister for the Saint Maria Goretti Youth Group, said. “I think we were all changed a bit, encouraged to continue in the same Spirit as we return home, living each day a little more full in Christ.”