A group of Northwest Indiana teens will reach out and lend a helping hand to Sojourner Truth House, a resource center that serves homeless women and children in Gary.
Nearly 200 high school teens and 30 adult youth leaders from throughout northwest Indiana will experience and celebrate their Catholic faith at the 10th annual Catholic Youth Xperience beginning today through Sunday in Valparaiso.
More than 30 of them, all incoming high school seniors, will learn a hands-on lesson in Christian service. On Saturday, the teens will be bussed to Sojourner Truth House near downtown Gary to perform a variety of projects, including painting, landscaping, cleaning, and organizing donated supplies in the food and clothing pantries.
The teens are from urban, suburban and rural towns alike throughout the four-county diocese, including Hammond, Highland, Whiting, East Chicago, Griffith, Hobart, Crown Point, Lowell, Valparaiso, Chesterton, Kouts and Michigan City. They will be joined by a group of adult youth ministry leaders led by a former conference participant, Vicky Hathaway from St. Edward Church in Lowell.
Hathaway will prepare the teens for the service trip and process the experience with them. The goal , Hathaway said, is to teach the teens about serving their neighbors, and the rich tradition of Catholic social teaching.
"Instead of just sitting in a classroom and teaching them about service, we get to go out into the community and serve,” Hathaway said. "These teens want to serve their neighbor, and they’ll learn by doing."
Others at CYX are helping as well. All CYX participants and their families were asked to make a donation of household items for Sojourner Truth House clients.
Kevin Driscoll, director of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Gary, is most excited about assisting the diocese’s namesake community.
“Most of the teens will be from towns outside of Gary. They have negative impressions about the city of Gary and can easily identify its problems. This project is about finding positive solutions,” Driscoll said
The conference for teens is organized by the Diocese of Gary Office for Youth and Young Adults in conjunction with youth ministers and volunteers from many of the 70+ parishes in the diocese comprised of Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Starke counties.
For more information regarding the CSX, visit catholicyouthx.com.