Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Students from Pullman Newman Center spend spring break on a ‘journey of prayer and service’

by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff

(From the April 7, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

Left: On March 17, volunteers from the Newman Center at Washington State University, Pullman, transformed the recreation room at Morning Star Boys’ Ranch. From left: WSU student Steve Michael; Father Steve Werner, pastor of St. Thomas More Newman Center; and WSU student Phil Cappetto. (IR photo from Morning Star Boys’ Ranch)

Six students from St. Thomas More Newman Center at Washington State University, Pullman, trekked to Spokane to spend their spring break learning about the wider mission of the Catholic Church. They spent time each day performing community service, and met with officials from Catholic Charities, the Diocese of Spokane and Gonzaga University – learning about everything from Catholic social teaching to Catholic education.

Father Steve Werner, the pastor of the Newman Center, led the students throughout the week on a journey of prayer, service and education.

“I wanted them to get a bigger sense of Church,” he said. “This is about more than just social justice – it’s more far reaching. I want them to understand why the Church bothers will all this ‘extra’ stuff. I want them to see that the Gospel is about more than just a ‘me and Jesus’ relationship – it’s always outreaching.”

The “Alternative Spring Break” began with Mass on Monday, March 14, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, and concluded there with Mass the following Friday. In the meantime, the WSU students volunteered at St. Margaret Women and Children’s Shelter, St. Anne Children and Family Center, the House of Charity, L’Arche, Bernadette Place, and Morning Star Boys’ Ranch. They spent time walking downtown and looking at poverty and homelessness from a new and different perspective.

They met with Donna Hanson, Director of Catholic Charities, who explained to them Catholic social teaching and how Catholic Charities fits into that. She also discussed the challenges Catholic Charities faces on an ongoing basis – especially financially. She concluded by explaining to the students that despite the challenges, her work with Catholic Charities is immensely rewarding, and she reminded the students that though they would certainly be helping others throughout their week of service, that “It is you who will be transformed.”

Later in the week, they met with Dr. Duane Schafer, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, who talked about the importance of Catholic education. They also met with Jesuit Father George Morris, who explained the Jesuit mission and the importance of the Jesuit education system.

Though they worked hard during the day, the students were also given time to relax and enjoy their break from academic rigor. They spent their evenings and nights at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. There, they prayed together and reflected on their experiences, before relaxing and socializing together.

One of the benefits of the Alternative Spring Break that none of its participants expected was a greater sense of community. “We grew so much closer,” said Andrea Mendoza. “It was fun and it was neat to do it as a small faith community.”

And the goal was accomplished. Each of the student participants said they have a new awe and increased zeal for their Catholic faith.

“This has been a pretty amazing experience,” said Monica Krauss. “I learned a lot that I didn’t know about how involved the Church is in everything. I’m more proud to be Catholic.”

WSU Newman Center students Phil Cappetto and Monica Krauss prepare to serve lunch at the House of Charity in downtown Spokane. (IR photo by Jami LeBrun)

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